Sharing Some Insight On Living With Epilepsy

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Besides the ever-famous “No Shave November,” November is also the month that promotes epilepsy awareness.

My name is Tyler McMinimy and I myself have epilepsy.

I would like to share my story and information about epilepsy in support of epilepsy awareness.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2007, the beginning of my eighth-grade year. My life would be forever changed. I would end up going through 13 grand mal (full body with convulsions) seizures in a span of just six months.

After a while, my neurologist found the right dose of medication to reduce my seizures. But seeing as I was still young, he started to wean me off the meds. It worked for about two and a half years until the beginning of my senior year of high school (2011). Then my seizures came back.

I had two more before we found the right dose of medication, and now I must take medication for the rest of my life to help prevent me from having any more seizures.

But I am not the only one in America with epilepsy.

One in every 100 people receives a diagnosis of epilepsy each year. The three primary causes for epilepsy are genetics, head injuries, and the one that scares everyone — the doctor comes in to tell you that he does not have any idea why you have it, you just do! There are hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of seizures, ranging from full body convulsions to just minor twitches that you may not even notice. Along with all these different kinds of seizures, come a ton of misconceptions about epilepsy. Here are some of the common misconceptions:

Epilepsy is contagious.

  • This is completely false! One cannot contract epilepsy from simply being around or touching someone.

When someone is having a seizure, they can swallow their tongue.

  • One word: WRONG!! Your tongue is attached to you, thus you cannot swallow it. However, it can block your airways and prevent breathing.

All epileptic people are mentally challenged.

  • This is a very rough and rude stereotype. Not all people who are diagnosed with epilepsy are mentally challenged. In fact, there are some famous people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy: singer/performer Prince, Alan Faneca, Harriet Tubman, Julius Caesar, and many more.

Now, some people know about epilepsy, but they do not know what to do in the event of a seizure. Here are some things that you can do in the event of a grand mal (full body) seizure:

Stay calm. It will be so much easier to assess any situation if you stay calm and stay level-headed.

Roll the person on their side. This will help their airways clear up. This is probably one of the most important things you can do and be the difference between life and death.

Put something soft under their head. Nobody likes having their head bashed into the ground, so putting something under their head will minimize any possible injuries to their skull/brain.

Time the seizure. Though electronic devices telling time dominate this world, you can still use something modern or a watch to time the seizure. This will be crucial information to give to the paramedics so they can pass it on to the neurologist. (Note: If a seizure lasts longer than four minutes, immediately call 9-1-1!)

Speak calmly and stay with the person until they come to. This is kind of self-explanatory. After a seizure, people will usually be disoriented and out of it. Talk to them and stay with them until they are coherent or the paramedics arrive.

Calling the paramedics. It is not mandatory to call the paramedics. It does not hurt to call though. Basically this step is up to your judgment.

Well those are a few things that you should know about epilepsy as a whole. One last thing — we have our very own Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona.

I have personal experience with working alongside the Foundation as a camp counselor for their summer camp (Camp Candlelight), a member of their Youth Leadership Council, and a member of the Tucson Epilepsy Walk Committee. And those are just a few things that the Foundation does. They do walks, camp, golf tournament for Armed Forces, and much, much more! To find out what else they do, simply Google “Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona.”

One last message: The color for epilepsy awareness is purple. I strongly encourage each and every one of you to wear purple, not just to show your support for your Longhorns, but for epilepsy awareness. And if you have a Facebook account, go and “like” the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona’s page. Thank you.

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