Epilepsy has changed my life drastically. Since my diagnosis, I’ve gone through a full range of emotions, from sadness, to anger, and finally acceptance. This has prompted me to broaden my knowledge on the topic. It’s really alarming to know that millions of people are being diagnosed with epilepsy each year. What’s even more alarming are the millions that know so little, about a disease that affects so many. It’s time to change that. There are six different types of seizures that a person can have, but for the purpose of this essay I am going to focus on grand mal seizures, and simple partial seizures.
When people think about epilepsy, they usually visualize a person flopping around on the ground like a fish out of water. Well, in the case of grand-mal seizures, at times that can be the case. In this specific type of seizure, the person loses consciousness and often collapses. According to WebMD, “The loss of consciousness is followed by generalized body stiffening (called the “tonic” phase of the seizure) for 30 to 60 seconds, then by violent jerking (the “clonic” phase) for 30 to 60 seconds, after which the patient goes into a deep sleep (the “postictal” or after-seizure phase).
During grand-mal seizures, injuries and accidents may occur, such as tongue biting and urinary incontinence” (Par. 3). I suffered from a grand mal seizure in the eighth grade, however, I decided out of fear to not tell an adult. It was at a party with my friends and it was very embarrassing. It wasn’t until 2012 that I officially diagnosed with epilepsy. I had suffered another seizure, while out to dinner at Chili’s with my family. This time I called a neurologist the following day. He scheduled me for a sleep deprived EEG which stands for Electroencephalography.
This is where they measure your brain waves by placing little electrodes all over your scalp, and expose you to different stimuli and record how your brain responds. They exposed me to several sequences of flashing strobe lights, and had me hyperventilate, then they had me try and fall asleep by playing some soothing music. It turned out that my test came back abnormal, the abnormal part was on the left side of my brain or in the temporal lobe. Because of that, they wanted me to have a brain MRI, just to make sure that I didn’t have a tumor causing my seizures.
This was a scary precautionary measure, thank goodness everything in the MRI was clear. However, they did find some inconsistencies but it’s only something to keep an eye on for the moment. My neurologist diagnosed me with temporal lobe epilepsy, with my description of the events that took place, he thought the seizure that I had in Chili’s sounded like a simple partial seizure. Simple partial seizures are more complicated and harder to detect than grand-mal seizures. One of the main reasons is they aren’t as dramatic, and the person typically retains consciousness.
Another reason that they are trickier is that there are four different symptom types, or categories of simple partial seizures. There are motor symptom types which causes the person’s body to stiffen and causes their muscles to twitch and jerk. Sensory symptoms can cause the person to have a seizure by being affected by any one of the five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell). Autonomic symptom types affect the autonomic nervous system, and according to WebMD, “the group of nerves that control the functions of our organs, like the heart, stomach, bladder, intestines.
Therefore autonomic symptoms are things like racing heartbeat, stomach upset, diarrhea, loss of bladder control. The only common autonomic symptom is a peculiar sensation in the stomach that is experienced by some patients with a type of epilepsy called temporal lobe epilepsy” (par. 8). Lastly, psychological symptom types experience overwhelming sensations of either fear or pleasure, also innumerable memory related sensations (i. e. Deja-vu). So what can you do if you see someone having a seizure?
First and foremost always remain calm. If they have fallen to the floor, move any items that they could potentially injure themselves on. Call rescue if you don’t know this individual and their health history. “If you can, help the patient to lie on his or her side. That way, if the patient begins vomiting the substance will come out the mouth and not back into the lung. ” (Lundy, Par. 6). If you have a soft item like a sweatshirt or a coat to place under their head, do so at this time.
Talk to the person in a reassuring manor. Don’t ever try and restrain a person having a seizure, or put your hands or fingers in their mouth. “People do bite their tongues, but it’s rare that anybody needs stitches in their tongues as a result of that,” he said. “It’s much better to have them have the bruise from the bite on the tongue than have them lose their airway because you pushed something in there. ” (Lundy, Par. 12) Epilepsy is such a complex disease and a broad topic of interest.
There are so many dynamics to it, between actual epilepsy diagnosis and seizure types, to what kinds of medications to treat it with. If you know a person with epilepsy I encourage you to educate yourself on the topic, I am still educating myself on the disease, and I wish I had so sooner. Helping someone may seem very frightening at the time, but something as simple as turning them on their side so they don’t choke on their vomit while seizing could save their life, you could be their lifelong hero. Works Cited.
“Epilepsy Seizure Types and Symptoms. ” WebMD Epilepsy Health Center. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research. “, 12 May 2012. Web. 19 Feb 2014. . Lundy, John. “How can you help someone who’s having a seizure?. ” Duluth News-Tribune (MN) 16 Dec. 2013: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. “Types of Epilepsy. ” WebMD Epilepsy Health Center. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: “Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research. “, 22 May 2012. Web. 19 Feb 2014. .