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Seizure Diaries: Epilepsy, Up Close & Personal

Have you ever tried to explain what it is like to go through a Grand Mal Seizure to someone who knows little or nothing about them? I have explained what it is like from an epileptic’s point of view, but I have often side-stepped what it is like for everyone else in the area.

Perhaps explaining a small bit of how people react around someone who has epilepsy could help. Walk side-by-side then, as if you were seeing someone you knew, say a neighbor, like me, who was having a seizure …

Epilepsy

Some friends, whom we casually knew, were with us in a local park one day. At that point, they had seen me experience Focal Seizures and some Petit Mals, but they had never seen in going through a Grand Mal. The hefty husband of the couple said that he was made of pretty tough stuff and he “could handle it.” That day in the park, as he was watching me fall to the ground and shake uncontrollably, he panicked, freaked out, and instinctively ran way. In his defense he said, “I was both looking for help and terrified at the same time. I had never witnessed anything like that before. My first thought was to get out of there. It was like you were possessed.”

When a person has a seizure, they draw a crowd. If the crowd were on camera, the images of their faces would appear odd, distorted and disoriented. It is an out-of-body experience for nearly everyone involved. If you have ever had a pet or child go through seizures, you know the helplessness and trauma that I mean.

Someone Call a Doctor?

And not just the general public is unaware of seizures. Sadly, many medical professionals are equally ignorant. One time I was sitting in the waiting room outside a family physician office. I had a serious episode. The receptionist called for the doctor. His immediate reaction was to seek outside help. “Someone Call 911! he shouted.” My wife, Steph, was there with me and she commanded in an equally loud voice for the staff to STOP. She explained that this was a doctor’s office and that the staff had everything they needed to handle any issues that might arise. She took care of me and kindly got the help she needed to protect me and teach the staff for the next seizure of patients in their care.

If Steph had not been there, in all likelihood, I would have been shipped off via ambulance to the local emergency room and handed a whopper of an ER bill.

Also recently, a Dentist refused to see me after he was told that I had a seizure on the previous day. He did not feel qualified to help, if I had a seizure while seated in a chair in his care. It seems to me as if seizure training ought to be required practice for a DDS or DMD.

Steph & Charlie Hooper

Just yesterday, Steph and I were across the street talking with a couple of neighbors and I began to have a Grand Mal. Quickly and gracefully, Steph asked the neighbor to follow her instructions exactly. They both helped me to the ground, Steph protected my head, while the neighbor held my backside. A second neighbor stepped in and held my chest and front. Counting the time from start to finish, Steph reported that I was in the epileptic seizure for five minutes. Finally out of the seizure I thanked each of the neighbors and Steph for their help! It took me a while to fully recuperate from it.

Not very many people take the initiative to assist someone in a seizure. For the most part they just don’t understand what to do and they are profoundly scared! I offer them some sound advice: go to the website for the Epilepsy Foundation. It is a great resource for all seizing mammals. The website gives people pointers that can help the general public to understand the steps of how to assist someone having a seizure.