Epilepsy Awareness Month.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. It's not something I really talk about on my blog but seen as the idea of this month is to raise awareness I decided that over November I will dedicate a few posts to this illness and how it affects us as a family.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes seizures that start in the brain. It currently affects more than half a million people in England and more than two million in America. There are many different types and variations of Epilepsy which causes different seizures, and there are lots of underlying factors that can cause it. Epilepsy can start at any age and isn't always genetic. There are three main causes -

Symptomatic epilepsy

This is where there is a known cause for a person’s epilepsy, such as a head injury, infections like meningitis, the brain not developing properly, a stroke, a scar or a tumour. A scan, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), may show the cause.
Some symptomatic epilepsies may happen because of a genetic condition such as Tuberous Sclerosis, which causes structural abnormalities in the brain and other organs.

Idiopathic epilepsy

This is when the epilepsy is likely to be due to a genetic tendency, that could have been inherited from one or both parents, or it may be from a change that happens in the person's genes before they are born. 
Part of a genetic tendency to have seizures is called a seizure threshold.

Cryptogenic epilepsy

This is when the cause for a person's epilepsy has not yet been found, despite investigations.

Epilepsy didn't affect my family until 2006. I'm not going to go into massive detail because it is Anthony's medial condition and it's not fair on him for me to broadcast it on here for the world to see but I think this month is important in raising awareness so he has given me permission to talk in general about his particular condition. 

Anthony received an head injury whilst deployed with the British Army which led to him developing Epilepsy. Until then he was fit and healthy. He suffers with Tonic Clonic seizures which are formerly known as grand mal seizures, this particular type affects the entire brain and is the most common type associated with Epilepsy. During this type of seizure he will loose consciousnesses and experience contracting of the muscles.  

Anthony is lucky in that his epilepsy is not photo sensitive, meaning that flashing lights do not aggravate his illness. Like a lot of Epileptics though he has triggers that we have come to learn. The triggers vary from person to person but with Anthony lack of food and lack of sleep seem to be his two biggest. 

He tries not to let it interfere in his daily life, which I admire him for. A lot of people dealing with this would feel sorry for themselves but he refuses to let it get him down. There are a lot of things that he is unable to do, such as drive a car, go in a swimming pool, or climb a ladder. He has had to loose some of his independence, he cannot have the bathroom door locked or be on his own with James for long periods of time, but instead of moaning about it he just gets on with it. I think sometimes I have a harder time dealing with it than he does! Watching someone that you love experiencing a seizure is scary. There is nothing you can do and feeling that powerless is not a nice feeling but I have to tell myself that it is worse for him. 

It's not just during the seizure that can be scary. When Anthony regains consciousness after a seizure he is very disorientated. He barely remembers who he is, let alone who I am. Normally he cannot remember what has happened. Because his muscles tense during a seizure, afterwards he is very sore and stiff so walking becomes a big problem. 

One of the biggest problems that I have found since we started dealing with this is that because it is not an illness you can see from the outside it is misunderstood a lot. If I had a pound for every time someone said to me. "well he looks healthy".. well, lets just say I'd be a very rich woman. Yes, from the outside he does look healthy but these people do not see how it affects daily life. Sometimes, not in a massive way but we have had to make subtle changes since he was diagnosed. 

That is the biggest reason why I think this month is so important and why I want to do these post over the next few weeks. If you were to meet someone with Epilepsy you wouldn't know unless they chose to tell you. Walking down the street you cannot tell an epileptic sufferer from a non epileptic. 
Would you know how to help if you saw someone having a seizure? I know that before 2006 I wouldn't have. Hopefully by the end of this month and over the course of the few posts that I have planned I will have helped to raise awareness just that little bit. 

1 comment

  1. Thanks for putting this info out there girl.
    I'm sure many struggling with it, appreciate it.


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