Even today, the subject of epilepsy is one we tread around uncomfortably. For too many years, epilepsy evoked grotesque images of a person losing consciousness, seemingly unaware of what's going on. His or her body is thrashing and jerking around, convulsing in uncontrollable seizures, while foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. Although this more likely represents the made-for-TV-movie version, it isn't too far away from what can happen, and frightening to witnesses, nevertheless.
Before going any further, it is important to distinguish epilepsy from the more general term, seizure disorder, and be aware they are not the same thing. While epilepsy, a condition of the nervous system, is considered a seizure disorder, not all seizure disorders are a result of epilepsy.
[...] Since Lia despised swallowing pills, many drugs were in liquid form, and all looked alike. The medications that only came in pill form had to be crushed and mixed in food, but Lia was stubborn and usually spit them out (Fadiman 45). In this very sad situation, the parents could neither read nor understand the many prescriptions labels. They couldn't read or write instructions or even the markings on measuring spoons or medicine droppers. MCMC had no interpreters on staff and at times no Hmong-speaking employees of any capacity were present in the hospital (Fadiman 25). [...]
[...] As stated above, seizures are not always caused by epilepsy and in the right circumstances, can be triggered in almost anyone. A high fever in a young child often produces a febrile or nonepileptic seizure. However, when an individual experiences repeated seizures, with no identifiable cause, he or she is said to have epilepsy (Dowshen). Doctors classify epileptic seizures into two categories, either partial or generalized, depending on the extent and part of the brain affected. Partial seizures start in one part of the brain, and may or may not move to other parts. [...]
[...] For the 10 to 20 percent of people with epilepsy who do not respond well to drug therapy, several other treatments are available. Surgery may be recommended if the area of the brain causing the seizures is confined to a very small area that doesn't interfere with other functions. A device called a vagus nerve stimulator can reduce seizures by electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve, which is implanted underneath the skin, similar to a pacemaker. It delivers short bursts of electrical energy to the brain, reducing seizures up to 40 percent (Epilepsy). [...]
[...] An eyewitness account of the incident is extremely valuable, since the person having the seizure usually cannot remember all details. In addition to specific details about the seizure itself, doctors will want to know how the episode started, how long it lasted, if there was any premonition or warning and how quickly the person recovered (Adamolekun). Once it's been established seizures have taken place, in addition to performing a full physical exam and getting a person's medical history, the doctor will likely perform a battery of tests. [...]
[...] Your doctor or hospital may know of support groups in your area, but if not your local Epilepsy Foundation should be able to help. However, if, for whatever reason, a suitable support group is not available, the next best thing may be participating in online discussions or forums. They provide many of the same benefits a face-to-face group has to offer, plus links to countless additional resources. Some to try are, The Epilepsy Foundation, Epilepsy Advocate, Epilepsy.com, DailyStrength.org, Healingwell.com and Epilepsytalk (Schachter). [...]
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