Saturday, June 9, 2012

Epilepsy, Part 2

Guys, I know there’ are conspiracy theories to recount, but I need to add one more thing to last week’s post, and that’s first aid for the epileptic. Doing the right thing at the right time can make the difference between life and death for a person having a seizure, and at the very least prevent injury.

There are two different types of seizure activity. Tonic-clonic seizures are more commonly called “grand-mal) (French meaning: “Big Bad”). They show up as violent, uncontrollable jerks and body convulsions. As the seizure begins, the victim seems to space out and their eyes glaze over (a phenomenon called an aura). Within seconds, they lose consciousness and fall to the ground, and the muscle convulsions begin. They can last up to a minute (in rare cases, longer). The victim is at risk for injury from slamming into furniture, or from biting their mouth and tongue. Often they can throw up, and the risk is great that they can inhale vomit into their lungs.

What you do in this case is:

1.       NOT to panic. Stay cool and do the right things, and they’ll make it through.
2.       Don’t try to restrain them. Just clear the area, and make sure they don’t hit something that can hurt them.
3.       DO NOT put anything in their mouth. You may have heard you need to keep them from biting their tongue. Once again, don’t try to pry their mouth open or put anything between their teeth. All you’ll accomplish is getting something broken, if you manage to keep all your fingers in the process.
4.       Speak to them in a calm, quiet voice. I have an uncle who we can talk down from a seizure that way. The external stimulus can (not always) help them fight out of it.
5.       After the convulsions end, roll them over onto their side. Bend their top leg and bring that knee forward so they can stay there. Bring the bottom arm up under their head. That’s called “The Recovery Position.” It means they are in a position that takes no effort to remain in, and if they throw up, they can get rid of it rather than backing it up into their lungs.
6.       Call 9-1-1

The other type of seizure is called “petit-mal” (“little bad”) or complex partial seizure. These are much less dramatic than the  tonic-clonic seizures discussed above, but no less dangerous to the patient. The aura mentioned above precedes this type as well. The person may get intense feelings of déjà vu or vertigo, or become disoriented. My younger sister would often simply lose track of who she was or where she was, and at least once she simply wandered off from our group. She wouldn’t respond to speech or touch, and I ended up just following her around Wal-Mart until she came around again. If she grabbed at anything, I just let her handle it until she put it down.

Once again, talk to them. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t get in their way unless they are heading toward a dangerous situation. Then, just get between them and the hazard. See if you can get them to sit down until they can interact with you on a reasonable level. Stay with them until family or other help can come and take them home. DO NOT let someone drive who’s recovering from such a seizure. They can remain disoriented for some time afterward.

Some of these steps may be stupid-simple for some of you fine folks, but maybe someone picked up something new. In that case, my job is done. I hope you understand a little more than you did before.

Next week, we resume our previous insanity. Look for it.

1 comment:

  1. I know I can count myself VERY fortunate that I have never experienced anything like this in my life, not in private, nor in public. So I've never felt the need to research the subject. However, there's no reason why I can't be armed with information. Now, if I'm ever in a situation where I see something similar to what you've described, (whether I know that person or not), at least I'd have an idea what to do... or what NOT to do. Thank you for taking the time to educate people, such as myself, about Epilepsy! If you hadn't given the heads up about this blog entry on Facebook, I probably would have never giving the subject a second thought. But it's always good to learn something new, especially something potentially lifesaving, like this. ~Em