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Having a Seizure

Having a seizure is a very uncomfortable experience. It's confusing, upsetting, inconvenient, frustrating, embarrassing, and can result in injury.

There isn't a lot that can be said that is positive about experiencing a seizure, except that you soon find out who cares for you. Those people soon become accessible and helpful.

 

Having not had a seizure for around ten years you become almost forgetful that epilepsy actually exists within you. There are reminders, of course. Like every evening when you pop your tablets out of their foil. Or when the helpful, and informative, Epilepsy News drops through the letter box. But essentially, it does drift into the background of everyday life becoming less important by the day.

And then with a rabid snarl the epileptic within you attacks with a vengeance. How dare you forget I exist! How dare you take risks with your life and others by driving. Don't you know a car is a killing machine in the wrong hands?

But of course these questions come to bare after the seizure. For when the seizure hits, for me, the lights simply go out. That is the only description I have. I'm sorry if you want something more lurid or exciting. But I haven't got anything more for the taste of the modern voyeur. All the excitement is experienced by others.

And then, like a dimmer switch, some minutes later, the light begins to resume - slowly. The ”dimmer switch” is a good description because as you would turn a light up slowly, that is, but without such control, how I come to understand what has happened. The text book words I often hear are:”you’re OK”. When I first hear these words I haven’t got a clue as to why I’m ”OK”, why someone would feel the need to tell me that, or even where I am.

With a groggy head and a body that really has no control of itself, I am generally manoeuvred into an ambulance. Now there are more people telling me I’m ”OK”. Even I’m getting the message now!

I’ve never had the compunction to argue at this stage. I don’t really think I care, to be honest. If anyone was to tell me I’m ”OK” while lifting my wallet I sense now that would be something I wouldn’t argue about. So putting me in an ambulance with a cheery smile and a very cheesy joke that only ambulance staff can get away with isn't going to be a problem.

What is a problem, and you can only see this on reflection, is that sometimes you are going to be in some very tricky places when a seizure occurs. My first experience was when I was sat down. Sounds fine doesn't it? If you're going to have a seizure at least be relaxing on the sofa. Only don't have a hot cup of coffee in your hand and don't be at work. One burns and the others raises questions about whether you can fulfil your role and retain your valued place in society.

I’ve also experienced a seizure in the shower, trapping myself behind the door. Not a good place for friends to come to your aid. Also very embarrassing when you realise you were stark naked when someone you’ve known for years was trying to save your life! And the most dangerous of places; driving a car. Thankfully, someone was able to take control of the situation and subsequently averting the worst of fates for us and innocent bystanders. So falling down on the carpet does on the whole seem preferable!

The upshot of these periods in life, generally, is a visit to the local hospital, plus to your GP for a chat about medication and lifestyle. You do tend to visit these places more than most other people you know; it's a given once you come to terms with your condition.

Of course, there are other implications to your unintended position. Giving your driving licence back for example. Thus relinquishing your freedom of movement. A bus pass can alleviate slightly, but it's no replacement for the sheer joy of being able to jump into the car to visit your grandchildren. To use public transport takes time and planning beyond anything needed when you own a car.

There’s also work. There is a sick period to negotiate. When will you be ready to return, especially if the seizure occurred at work? It takes time for the fuzziness to clear; the last time at least a week and a half for me. But what happens if your employer raises concerns about your fitness to complete tasks that before were seen as ordinary? What do you do then? The last thing you want is to be seen as either a burden or as a skiver! You just want to be able to return as normal. But oddly, you find yourself talking and explaining, justifying.

In reality you know you can’t talk it away. You can’t explain it. And you know there’s not much point trying to justify it. However you came by your condition, you now have it and it isn’t going to go away. It will always be there lurking in the back of your mind, waiting to explode! Regardless of the medication you take, it will ride roughshod over your life. It doesn't care where you are or who you are with. It is the devil within you!

But with all that that is your past experience and all that what is to come, it is important to fight the temptation to dwell on your epilepsy. You have to queue up for the bus in the rain. You have to reorganise your work and recognise adjustments might have to be made. It's important to fight for what is essentially a normal life even if the style you're accustomed to has to be modified.

Whatever the epilepsy thinks about you, you are still you! You still like the same tv program, the same music, the same holiday destination. You still love the same people and more importantly, the same people still love you. You will always be the winner because you have family and friends who support you and a strength within you to succeed as an individual.

Comments  

 
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+2 #3 Aaron David 2012-03-23 21:11
Wonderful! Witty and moving in equal measure. Thank you for allowing us this insight. You deal with the liitle devil with courage, dignity, patience and above all humour. ;-)
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