PSA - November Is Epilepsy Awareness Month

WSD note - This was written by James Beattie, a Barstool fan who's epileptic. We exchanged a few DM's where he asked for help on how to help promote epilepsy awareness, since November is around the corner and also Epilepsy Awareness Month. Figured this was the easiest way to get eyeballs on the topic. If one person reads this blog and it comes in handy in an unfortunate situation where someone is having a seizure, then posting this blog was worth it. This isn't a typical blog you'd find on Barstool, but felt the contents of James' story was well worth sharing


From James:  

I’ve probably had north of 40 grand mal seizures over the course of my life, some sounding crazier than the last. 

From having a seizure while driving, having one on a plane, in an arena watching hockey, while jogging on Thanksgiving Day in Phoenix, one being left behind at an airport in Italy, or just at home and subsequently having to clean up my own vomit once I gain consciousness, I always get the same question over and over again:

What should I do in case you have a seizure?

I usually say something stupid like, “Grab something to drink, something to eat and enjoy the show.”

If I can’t laugh at myself after 35+ years of life, most of which has been diagnosed with epilepsy, I’d probably be dead. 

This does however, bring up an important question with Epilepsy Awareness Month coming up in November (no disrespect to the Movember people): WHAT DO YOU DO IN CASE YOU HAVE A SEIZURE?!

First of all, there’s different types of seizures. Did you know that? Some of you did, but I bet a lot of you didn’t either. Here are the three basic types:

  • Grand mal (tonic-clonic)
  • Partial complex 
  • Absence

For these purposes, we’ll stick to what to do in the event of a grand mal/tonic clonic seizure (yes, the kind you might see in popular culture or think of when you think “seizure”).

The folks at Johns Hopkins Medicine, who last checked were pretty good at medicine, breaks down what to do in the event of a seizure:

 [From the Hopkins Article]

Witnessing a person having a tonic-clonic seizure can be upsetting, but it’s important to remember that most seizures resolve on their own after one to three minutes. To offer assistance:

  • Protect the person from injury by helping them to the floor and clearing away furniture or other items. Do not attempt to hold the person still.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. It is physically impossible to swallow one’s tongue, and putting things in the mouth may lead to injury.
  • Time the seizure.
  • A seizure lasting more than 5 minutes is an emergency. Call 911.
  • Calm reassurance can be helpful to a person who is recovering from a seizure.

 [/From the Hopkins Article/]

The UK group Epilepsy Action gives a nifty demonstration on these details:

I don’t think that lady really had a seizure in the video, but if she did I hope she raked it in.

Now a seizure doesn’t have any long lasting impacts to the brain, but more severe seizures can cause one to find it harder to concentrate and have medical difficulties.

As noted by MedicalNewsToday, those with epilepsy have a higher risk of developing depression. About 30 percent of adults diagnosed with epilepsy have depression. 10 percent have bipolar disorder. 

There is of course a higher risk of anxiety which requires additional medication and/or therapy.

The MedicalNewsToday folks also note that people with epilepsy are also more prone to the following conditions:

  • Heart and breathing disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Bone Fractures

Finally, yes you can die from a tonic-clonic seizure by way of a fall or drowning while having said seizure. I’ve had many a fall (and car crash) but by the grace of God have managed to survive.

There is also SUDEP, or Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC, I’m sure you’ve heard of them by now right?!) estimates this can happen to about 1-1000 people with epilepsy each year.

The Author: James Beattie has been diagnosed with epilepsy since he was age 8 and has been dealing with it for better or for worse ever since and is simply trying to spread the word about seizures and epilepsy. He is trying to not be a bum as he was tossed out from his last place of employment a couple of months after his seizure in July. James’ last seizure as of publishing was on Friday, October 22.

For anyone looking to donate to any epilepsy foundations, the ones below are courtesy of James: