Ever witnessed a person having a seizure or an epileptic fit as some call it? It can be quite alarming and uncomfortable to watch.
It is no surprise then that people tend to shy away from the subject and often those suffering with this neurological disorder are excluded from society in one way or another. In the past some religious institutions have labelled them as being possessed by the devil and up until the 1960’s people with epilepsy were subjected to mental institutions. A person has a seizure in public and passers-by look on or crossover to the other side. Others can’t wait to capture the incidence on their phones. How would you feel if you found a video of your loved one having a seizure on you tube or Facebook?
Yes, the educated few would do the right thing and protect them from the harshness received from the rest of the world. Perhaps if there was more awareness, sufferers of epilepsy would not have to shy away from the public so much.
Epilepsy is the result of abnormal electrical activity within the brain.The causes are mainly genetic in nature, with over 200 identified errors in the genes responsible for controlling levels of electrical activity within the brain. Where there are no genetic mutations, patients may experience epileptic seizures as a side effect of tumours, strokes, head injuries or conditions such as meningitis. There are also cases of age related epilepsy where the patient will outgrow their epilepsy episodes. This is most likely due to inherent healing mechanisms within the brain which compensates for the errors which normally lead to epilepsy.
Epilepsy can be managed with appropriate daily medication or in extreme cases surgery. This can be to either implant a neurostimulator/vagal nerve stimulator which will use electrical signals to prevent the abnormal electrical activity or to to remove the part of the brain which serves as the trigger causing the abnormal activity. As for first aid measures, it is advised to have a patient suffering from a seizure to lie on their side, this will avoid them choking. Other than that, stay close while they run the course of the episode.
How many of us rely on our cars to go about our daily routines. A high percentage of those reading this drive to work and back daily. So imagine what life would be for you if you woke up one morning going about your usual routine and by the end of the day you find yourself in a hospital bed and told you can no longer drive? Imagine a school teacher/ university lecturer who drops down in shakes half way through a lesson/lecture in front of the pupils/students. What if every time you were out with your mates you had an epileptic episode or knocked your head on the conference table in the middle of a meeting? How would a parent feel if he/she could not hold the child in his/her arms for fear of losing control? And what about sports? Could you play alongside your team if you constantly had seizures before the end of a game?
Most adults who develop epilepsy had a perfectly normal healthy life style prior to the diagnosis. Gradually they start losing this life style they’ve lived for so long. Teachers could probably no longer teach for the safety of the pupils, the pilot can no longer fly a plane for the safety of the passengers, the medic can no longer practise for the safety of the patients nor can the driver continue to drive for the safety of the passengers. Friends start to shy away out of embarrassment, relationships fall apart from the strain of uncertainty. Anyone who had to experience any of these and more would inevitably start to lose their confidence and to shy away from society with time. A few have the courage to fight on and to stand up to the ignorant. But would you get in a car or flight if you knew the driver or pilot suffered from epilepsy? probably not.
Epilepsy, just like diabetes or cancer deserves recognition and the victims deserve your support. It’s not contagious nor is it caused by a demon possession; so share the love next time you come in contact with a person having a seizure.
Visit http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/ for more information on epilepsy.