Seizures have been an important part of my life since I was 3 ½ years old. At birth, it was believe that the forceps were responsible for lesions in the brain. At the tender age of three, I fell down the stairs, hitting the top of my head three times before my dad could catch me. This event was the major event that triggered it all. A week later, I was diagnosed with tonic clonic Epilepsy also known as "Grand Mal".
Seizures and brain damage
My mother told me that my longest period of seizures lasted approximately 1 ½ hour. It is quite alarming as any neurologist will tell you that brain damage occurs following a period of seizures lasting 30 minutes or more.
Treatments of seizures
In these days, Epilepsy treatments were quite new which explains the rather basic care and methods. For example, the medication that I was taking was not monitored until I reached 10 years of age. It was then changed as my new neurologist realized that the medication that I had been using was too strong for an adult, never mind a child. It also explained that the first 10 years of my life are a blur with few memories. My family is actually the one filling me in mostly about what happened in my life during this decade.
EEG (Electro Encephalogram) was also basic and closer to an instrument of torture than actually a significant medical tool to detect unusual brain activity or damages. Then, they used small needles to directly connect the wires to the machines while now, miniature rubber connectors are glued to your scalp which are pain free.
Seizures and the social aspect related to them
There was also the social aspect of the seizures. You see, in the 1960's and 1970's, people did not know much about seizures disorders such as Epilepsy. So instead of acknowledging their lack of information concerning this disorder of the brain, they used to make up their own conclusions such as: possession by the devil, being mentally challenged or handicapped and so on. My own grandmother convinced my mother to make me pray every night say that I suffered from seizures because I was paying for my parents' sins. My own father still considers this subject taboo as he feels responsible for not catching me right away when I fell down the stairs. Later on, because of my hormonal changes at puberty, I "grew out of it" and was able to live without any medication.
Later on, I developed pseudo seizures which was caused by extreme stress endured at work where I was professionally and sexually abused. What are pseudo seizures? It is basically are reaction to stress by your body but it is not related to brain damage and does not need any medical attention besides learning how to cope with stress, sometimes by seeing a psychologist or a counselor of some sort.
Autism and seizures
Then later on, my worst nightmare became reality. My five years old son, who is suffering from Autism just like his little sister, was diagnosed with Epilepsy. I have learned a lot about seizures through experience but witnessing your child having seizures, is the worst thing you can ever go through. When he had his first seizures, about eleven months ago, he was diagnosed at first with febrile seizures since his trigger happens to be sudden high fevers and do not cause brain damage. Following an EEG during the last summer, the results revealed that his brain displayed unusual activity in certain areas of the brain. Also, having Autism and given my history, the neurologist told me that he had 50% chances of suffering from Epilepsy. She also said that as high as 30% of children with Autism also are affected by a seizures disorder.
Possible causes of seizures
Since then, I did a lot of research and I discovered other sources that may cause someone to suffer from seizures. For example, Diabetes, stress, shock, an accident, brain injury, Epilepsy can be the guilty parties.
What can you do when someone has seizures ?
What should you do if you witness someone having seizures? First, ask someone to call for help. Make sure that people stay away to allow you to give the proper care to the person. Loosen clothing items such as shirts, belts, etc. Do not put anything in the person's mouth, especially your fingers. Make sure that the person can not fall or hit something in the area and move all potentially dangerous objects. Do not restrain the person during the seizures as both of you could be hurt in the process. Time each seizure and write it down if possible.
When the person is calm, put him in the recovery position which is basically on the side with the arms and legs that are opposite to the floor on the ground to prevent the person of either rolling on his back or his stomach. This position will allow the person to breathe more easily of vomit in certain cases. Monitored the breathing and check the pulse. Notice any details such as the color of the skin especially around the mouth, frothing, as it will be relevant and helpful to the emergency staff as well as in the hospital. Never leave the person unattended even to reach a phone as anything could happen.
Seizures affect so many people's lives. Doing some research about them allowed me to understand them more and see them as they are instead of focusing on how scary they can appear to be to people. When treated, anyone suffering from a seizures disorder can have a normal life so instead of seeing only the problem; why not focus on the possible solutions?