This topic really hits close to home as I was diagnosed Grand Mal Epilepsy almost six years ago to date. In fact, I had a near-death experience on the 24th of May 2018, when I experienced my first gran Mal seizure, then my second and then the third – it was the most terrifying 24 hours of my life.
By the third seizure, my airways had closed up causing a lack of oxygen to my brain. As a result, my body started to become limp, my brain started to shut down and my skin turned icy blue in colour. My heart was sedated immediately and I was admitted into the ICU for observation and testing. I have absolutely no recollection of that day but I think about it all the time.
Fortunately, I was found by a loved one who knew of my medical condition and how to handle it in a safe way whilst having all the information he needed to ensure I didn’t go brain dead.
Here is everything you need to know about Epilepsy and the seizures that come with it:
What is Epilepsy and what are Seizures?
Epilepsy is a a neurological condition marked by sudden episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This means that the brains chemicals aren’t balanced and it isn’t able to function and process things, such as lights, in the way that an average person does.
A seizure can be describe as a sudden attack of an illness, stoke or epileptic fit, causing the body and various limbs to shake uncontrollably causing the person to loose control over his or her body.
What causes Epilepsy?
A person can be classified as an epileptic for a number of reasons that can vary according to age. Some people my attract epilepsy genetically whilst others may become an epileptic as a result of a head injury or a change in the brain’s chemical balance.
Who can ‘get’ Epilepsy?
Anyone, regardless of age, height, ethnicity and gender. It can be passed down genetically or you can be diagnosed with Epilepsy after a trauma.
Seizures by age
What causes seizures in Newborns?
- Brain malformation
- Maternal drug use
- A lack of oxygen to the brain and body during birth
- Low levels of blood sugar
- Low levels of blood calcium and any other electrolyte issues
What causes seizures in infants and children?
- Brain tremor
What causes seizures in children and adults?
- Conditions such as Down’s Syndrome
- Trauma to the head (As mentioned before)
- Brain disease (Vary rare)
- Genetic factors
What causes seizures in the elderly?
- If they have experience a physical or emotional trauma
- If they have had a stroke
- If they have Alzheimer’s disease
What happens to someone when they have a seizure?
Leading up to a seizure, everyone experiences different symptoms: some may experience a hot flush, some may feel nauseous, lost, unaware of their surroundings, some may vomit and some may even have an upset tummy and loss of vision in the process.
During this time, try and be as supportive as possible. Having epilepsy and dealing with it on a daily basis is no easy task.
Other symptoms can include:
- Temporary confusion
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety or deja vu
- A staring spell
- Unusual smells, tastes, or feelings
- Periods of forgetfulness or memory lapses
- Tingling, numbness, or feelings of electricity in part of the body
- Daydreaming episodes
- Feeling spacey, fuzzy, or confused
- Unexplained confusion, sleepiness, weakness
- Losing control of urine or stool unexpectedly
- Huge urge to want to vomit
- Light headedness
- Urge to want to pass-out
- Blurred vision
How to help someone having a seizure
You have to immediately create a stress free environment. Someone who is an epileptic undergoes a lot of physical stress and the last thing they need is to be surrounded by more pressure and anxiety.
- Always be informed – it is important to ask your friend to explain their type of epilepsy to you so that you can ensure that the both of you are kept safe at all times
- Remember to breath – this is a stressful and traumatic experience for most – it is important to remain calm and take control of the situation rather than letting the situation take control of you.
- Reassure the person (without being over the top) that you are there for them and that they are safe. This will help relax the epileptic as this is a very stressful time for them. Let them know that should they blackout, that you will look after them and get them access to professional medical care
- Do a test run – set up a scenario with your friend or partner to get a better understanding of the medical condition. This way you can discuss your plane with your partner and what you need them to do for you. It creates a sense of purpose and direction
- Lie then on their side and place a soft object like a pillow, jersey, t shirt or blanket to protect the head from constant blows
- Make sure their airway is 200% clear
- Do not put anything in their mouth and ensure they haven’t swallowed their tongue.
- Do not splash an epileptic with water or put them in a bath as a shock treatment (This becomes very dangerous)
- Keep them safe while they have their seizure and offer them water after they have come around. Their mouth will be very dry, their body sore and tired.
- If they don’t stop seizing, take them straight to the emergency
Your duty as an Epileptic
As an Epileptic, you have to be responsible for your safety as well as for the safety of those around you. Epilepsy is can be detrimental and therefore, it requires you to be responsible and aware at all times.
As an Epileptic you need to:
- Make sure you take your medication as per your script
- Get enough rest to ensure your levels don’t drop during the day
- You need to make sure that you don’t spend too much time in front of technology. If you do, be sure to take regular breaks as Epileptics struggle with over stimulation
- Make sure you eat regularly – low sugar levels could invite a seizure or minor epileptic fit
- Inform you loved ones and those around you that you are epileptic and run them through the safety procedures and what they need to do to keep you safe. Remember, someone won’t be able to help you if they aren’t aware of your medical condition.
Good luck and I hope you never need to use it!