Friday, November 9, 2012


Like I said in my last post, over two million Americans struggle with epilepsy.  The problem is that most people wouldn't know what to do if they came in contact with somebody having a full blown tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure.  It's a scary thing that I haven't personally experienced and I honestly hope I never do.  But, because of my sons condition, I have to be prepared for the worst case scenario and so should you.  And once you are prepared, not only could you help a person who is having a seizure, I can also add you to my babysitting list.  It's pretty short, at this point, for this very reason, and I wouldn't mind having a nice long date with my honey.

With that, I want to share with you what I know about seizures.  My seizure knowledge is actually pretty basic.  I watched a couple of videos about seizures before Levi was released from the hospital in July and other than a couple of questions to Dr.Q. that's all the training I got.  But, it's really all I needed.  So, I'm going to share that with you.

Seizure Basics

There are several kinds of seizures that each present differently.  I stole the following chart off of WebMD.

Generalized Seizures
(Produced by the entire brain)
1.Tonic-Clonic "Grand Mal"Unconsciousness, convulsions, muscle rigidity
2. AbsenceBrief loss of awareness, can include fidgeting
3. MyoclonicSporadic (isolated), jerking movements
4. ClonicRepetitive, jerking movements
5. TonicMuscle stiffness, rigidity
6. AtonicLoss of muscle tone

Partial Seizures
(Produced by a small area of the brain)
1. Simple(awareness is retained)
a. Simple Motor
b. Simple Sensory
c. Simple Psychological
a. Jerking, muscle rigidity, spasms, head-turning
b. Unusual sensations affecting either the vision, hearing, smell taste, or touch
c. Memory or emotional disturbances
2. Complex
(Impairment of awareness)
Automatisms such as lip smacking, chewing, fidgeting, walking and other repetitive, involuntary but coordinated movements
3. Partial seizure with secondary generalizationSymptoms that are initially associated with a preservation of consciousness that then evolves into a loss of consciousness and convulsions.

So, as you see, there are ALL KINDS of seizures.  I honestly don't completely understand how everything is categorized, but the way I understand it is that seizures can cause three basic categories of physical reactions and it's the reactions that we need to be aware of, not the fancy names or what exactly is happening in the brain.  So here they are, in my own words:

1.  Loss of Awareness/Consciousness - A person suddenly interrupts an activity and stares blankly.  This may or may not be accompanied with fidgeting, like playing with fingers or buttons or lip smacking or chewing.  This can also cause strange sensations like smells or tastes.

2.  Partial Body Convulsions/Involuntary Movement - Only part or one side of the body convulses or jerks, often rhythmically.  Sometimes they may collapse due to the kind of movement caused by the seizure.

3. Full Body Convulsions/Involuntary Movment - The entire body is convulsing or jerking.  The most obvious kind being Tonic Clonic (Grand Mal), which is a constant convulsion of the entire body. I'm pretty sure that Levi's seizures fit in this category. They were not tonic clonic as he was not constantly convulsing.  But, although it looked like only his head and arms were moving, when I held him I could actually feel his entire body jerking with each seizure.

A person's seizures can present in just one of these ways or in multiple ways.  For instance, it is not uncommon for a focal (staring) seizure to be followed by a tonic clonic seizure.

So, there you go.  That's everything I know about seizures and what happens if somebody is having one.  And, no, I didn't share what you should do if somebody is having a seizure.  This post is getting to be pretty long so I guess you'll just have to stay tuned!

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