Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Women succeeding with epilepsy

As some of you know, our oldest son Chris has epilepsy. When he was in the third grade, Chris had a grand mal seizure early one morning. Mike actually witnessed most of the seizure, and he urgently called me upstairs. I raced up to Chris' bedroom and Mike went to call 911. But as soon as I saw Chris at the tail end of his seizure, completely unresponsive, I passed out. So while Mike's on the phone with the emergency dispatch people, reporting what was going on, he then said "my wife's just fainted!" I've always thought of myself as good in a crisis--so much for that theory. In this situation, I think it was post-traumatic stress kicking in--all I could think about was how much he went through early in life, and I was worried he was dying. It was terrifying.

The good news about Chris is that he came to when the paramedics were here and was cogent enough to be excited about riding in an ambulance to the hospital. Later when he began seeing a neurologist and we began reflecting on the past, we realized that Chris had probably been having some partial seizures before that. His epilepsy is controlled with anti-seizure meds, and he's had only a few small seizures since then (usually when he has missed a dosage or doesn't get enough sleep). We realize that Chris is extremely fortunate that his epilepsy can be controlled with meds. In many cases, people with epilepsy struggle to find effective medication or other treatment.

HealthyWomen.org has some great tips on its web site about living with epilepsy or helping loved ones with epilepsy. The video series, "Women Succeeding with Epilepsy," features interviews with women either managing the illness themselves or caring for children with epilepsy.

Historically, epileptics were cast out as witches or viewed as possessing sacred powers. Even now, discrimination exists--many epileptics are reluctant to reveal their condition to their employers.

(I remember a few years ago, when we filled out an application [with medical info] for Chris to attend vacation bible school, the woman running the program was highly reluctant to admit him because of his epilepsy. Even though he hardly ever had seizures, and he'd never had one in school. I can only imagine how parents of a child with less-controlled epilepsy might feel.)

I knew little about the disease before Chris was diagnosed. With the advances in medication, most people with epilepsy can live normal, productive lives.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of HealthyWomen’s “Women Succeeding with Epilepsy” sponsored by UCB, Inc. and received a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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