The first time I heard of Epilepsy, was in a first aid class I helped organize for a group of pro-life students in 2003 when I was in college. And of course it rarely concerns you until it hits home… You will read a lot of the seizures, the types, and one thing you will realize is, most common child seizures are caused by fever. Of course there are those that just happen, and doctors brand them atypical, but in simple terms, that is just epilepsy. Your child has a seizure whose cause cannot be explained, then they have epilepsy. It is a big and scary word. And traumatizing. But it is actually scarier to watch your child convulse. Having witnessed 2 in a span of 6 months, I am no expert, but I have a tip or two to share if you ever find yourself in my shoes. This may not be limited to children, but if you ever be in a place where one is having a seizure, the procedure of what you need to do more or less remains the same.
A typical -grand mal- seizure more or less takes place in the same way or follows the same pattern. The casualty stretches out, goes rigid and falls, then jerking movements, then often but not always grinding of teeth, then sleep. Each phase takes different lenth of time. One seizure may not necessarily take as long s the one before, or one stage may take longer or shorter time than the previous one. Here is waht you do:-
- Thou shall not panic:- As a parent watching your child going through all that , the first instinct is, scream, pick up the child and run to hospital. I did that and when I got to hospital, I was asked questions I could not answer. So as a parent or observer, it is your time to be most sane. Everything that you are going to observe in the next few seconds to a few minutes counts in terms of what diagnosis and tests will be given to your child. Don’t panic, no matter how hard it sounds.
- Get a soft landing:- By this I mean, remove the danger from the casualty or remove the casualty from danger, whichever is easier. If it is a child, place them on a soft bed or couch or put something soft under them. This will ensure that when they jerk they do not injure themselves further. If the casualty is an adult, break the fall. Hold them as they fall, ensure the ground around them is free of stones, sharp object etc. Do not try to wedge the child’s mouth open or place an object between the teeth, and do not attempt to restrain movements (seizurekids.com). This should also apply to adults as well.
- Take note of what happens while the person is in the fit:- One thing you will sure be asked when you get to hospital is “Describe the seizure”. How will you describe if you did not observe? Take note of the times of each phase. How long did the casualty stretch or was stiff, how long did the jerking movements take, how were the jerks, just the hands or both hands and feet, how long did they sleep immediately after the seizure? Most importantly, check for fever.
- When they fall asleep,now do what you were to do in the panic state:- After seizure, the casualty sleeps. Now you can panic. Run to your room, get your wallet and baby bag, call a cab, run out of the door and call the neighbor. Get to hospital. Whatever you do, make sure you get you child to hospital especially if it is the first seizure. As soon as possible. After all the 3 above are done. If it is a subsequent one, you probably already have a neurologist, call them, inform them, schedule a check up with them.
- Be ready for the checks:- While you are riding to hospital, prepare yourself psychologically for the check ups. Once you get to the hospital, you will answer on what you noted on the above. Was the child on medication, remember the names of the medication he was on. Is there a history of epilepsy in your family? If it is the first convulsion, and there was no fever, and the above checks out as okay according to the doctor seeing you, they will do a lot of blood checks. They check for infections, blood sugar among many other things. If that comes out negative, they will do a head scan to check for trauma (read injuries to the head). They will actually tell you to hold the child as he goes into that machine. Its a tough journey. If that comes out normal, they will admit the child and monitor. when they rule out the possibility of a second seizure, you will be advised to go home and of course return if a second seizure does occur for a brain activity test called EEG. After this they will put the child on medication until their 6th birthday.
I am not writing this as a medic.Just as a parent trying to help a another parent who is going to go through the same or going through the same. It may sound tough that you have to act and seem like you have no feelings for your child, but the information you relay to the doctor is so crucial to your child’s well being and diagnosis. Trust God to see you through the desperate times, be strong for your child and be there for them when they do not seem to be fathoming what is happening in their tender lives. Perhaps my next big challenge next will be when he goes to school. I am not afraid, it is well in Christ. It always is…
Finally, you will realize I have used the word casualty when describing what you need to do. It is not because they cease to be your child when it happens, but because you must disassociate yourself with the mushy feelings of motherhood, you must choose to act as opposed to weep or scream, you must choose to be sane as opposed to emotional. Mushiness may cloud your judgment. Panic will prevent you from noting what needs to be noted. Detaching yourself may work, if only for that short while when your sanity is so called for.