Tonic–clonic seizure

Happy Anniversary: Carpe Diem

Mrs Fringe is 2 years old.  I could write a fun post, a retrospective of the highlights, discuss how very much this blog and all of my followers mean to me, but in true fractured Fringeland style, I’m not going to do any of those today.  No silliness, no photos. Instead, I’m writing a PSA post, asking you all to please read and remember.

I’ve written epilepsy awareness posts before, I usually post one in November, but I’m writing another one today.

On the train this morning I got a phone call from Man Child telling me he was on his way to the ER, and when I arrived at the beach it was raining.  Ok, life.

After the rain stopped and the clouds moved off, someone several towels down had a tonic clonic seizure.  Tonic clinics are what used to be called grand mal seizures.  I went over, as did several other people.  Really nice to see so many willing to get involved and see if they could help, lifeguards were hailed, police were flagged down, 911 was called.

I was umm, happy?  I don’t think happy is the right word, to see the person was on their side, and they were on a towel on the sand, away from the water, nothing to be injured on.  This is probably the safest scenario for a seizure when someone is alone and outside.

But I was quickly upset, and I’m still upset now.

The problem.  One woman pushed through, trying to turn the person onto their back, saying they needed to be held down. NO. There is no reason to restrain someone having a seizure, and doing so risks injuring them.  No less than two people stepped forward ready to grab the jaw and force the mouth open, yelling that they were going to choke on their tongue.  NO.  NEVER, EVER PUT ANYTHING IN THE MOUTH OF SOMEONE HAVING A SEIZURE.  It is physically impossible for someone to choke on their tongue.  It is, however, possible for the tongue to block the airway, which is why lying on their side is the safest position for someone having a seizure.  One woman tried to hold their head, saying she was going to put her finger in their mouth to swipe away the saliva.  NO.  Nothing in the mouth includes fingers, it’s a good way to a) have your finger injured, possibly bitten off, b) break the jaw of the person having the seizure, c) trying to force anything into the mouth when someone is seizing can result in chipping their teeth.

Yes, I spoke up.

But, why, oh why, is there not more seizure awareness?  Seizures aren’t rare.  1 in 100 people can expect to have a seizure in their lifetime.  Anyone can have a seizure.  Epilepsy is generally defined as 2 or more unprovoked seizures.  Epilepsy can develop in any person at any time.  It is the fourth most common neurological disorder.

So how come, as the person was coming out of the seizure, the only question asked was if they had taken anything or been drinking?  These are valid, important, sensible questions.  But they weren’t asked if they had epilepsy.

Most seizures are self limiting, — end on their own.  Without anything else going on (injury, illness) they are usually not considered medical emergencies.  But they can be.  People can and do die– from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy), status epilepticus (prolonged seizures), and injuries sustained during seizures (head injury, drowning, etc).  These events are not common, but they can and do happen.

Please.  Know what to do in case someone around you has a seizure (and tonic clinics are just one of many types).