Hello everyone! If you had read either of my first two blogs you would know that I have had epilepsy most of my adult life. I was first diagnosed with Epilepsy in 1972, when I was eight years old. My seizures were controlled later that year and I was seizure free for thirteen years. They returned in 1985 when I was twenty-one and they were controlled again later that year. My seizures returned again in 1992. I was twenty-eight and have had break through seizures, with varied frequency and intensity, ever since.
As Andrea Segedi at the Epilepsy Association and I were brainstorming (pun intended) about what I should write about next, she suggested I should write about having seizures in public. I have had more seizures in public than I can count. In the past my seizures came out of nowhere were very explosive and lasted about twenty to forty seconds with a period of confusion afterwards. Thankfully, the frequency of these intense seizures has decreased.
I have had seizures just about anywhere you can imagine including during Church. I have always been very open about my epilepsy. When I meet someone, it is not long after I introduce myself that I tell let them know that I have epilepsy. I try to let people know what to do, when and if, I have a seizure. This helps take the stress out the situation.
My friends and colleagues all know that I have epilepsy and know what to do. They respect me and treat me like any other person in my profession. When I fly, I always let the flight attendants know that it is unlikely but that I may have a seizure and what they need to do. If I am by myself and have a seizure in public, when I come out of the seizure I immediately let everyone know what has happened. I also always wear a medic alert necklace.
Although most people react in a positive way and want to help, there are people out there who don’t understand or recognize what is happening. When I was in college, I would often swear and talk out of context during my seizures. I did this during a seizure when my friends and I were at the movie theatre. As we were leaving a woman said “That’s some way for an adult to act in the movie theater.” I have only had this happen a few times during the many seizures I have had in public. You just have to keep a positive attitude understand that some people just don’t get it.
I believe that the key to dealing with seizures in public is to let people know that you have epilepsy and what to do if you have a seizure. Also, understand that there are some people who just won’t get it. I suggest keeping a positive attitude and a good sense of humor. I have done a lot of crazy things in my life and during a lot of them, I never was aware of what was happening.