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When I Experience an Epileptic Seizure in Public

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“Do you know where you are?”

“Can you tell me who the President is?”

These are examples of questions I have been asked when I find myself uncomfortably lying on the floor in a public area. My brain is still trying to piece itself back together like a scattered puzzle. My vision is semi-blurred and I give all the strength I have in my weakened body to blink away the daze. My brain begins to understand the answers to the questions but my ability to speak has yet to verbalize them. My head feels like someone hit me with a brick and I just want to go to sleep, but then I realize — I’m in a public place.

I have lived with epilepsy for a decade. I have no control of when or where I will have a seizure. Even after all this time, I say a small prayer that I can make a trip to where I’m going seizure-free.

I have had more seizures in public than I can count, both large and small. Sometimes I will have to pause and hold onto a sturdy surface until it passes. I look up and at times see a passerby gaze at me as if perhaps I’m drunk. Perhaps I’m on drugs. Perhaps I’m experiencing a medical issue, but they move along regardless.

Sometimes I awake disoriented on the floor after experiencing a seizure with strangers staring heavily and flooding me with questions I can’t yet answer. As I’m waiting for my brain to stabilize, they ask, “Can you tell me your name?” “Do you know what day it is?” “Do you know where you are?”

I have had public seizures where you could hear a pin drop, with no one there to lend a helping hand. Other times, kind individuals stay with me until my loving husband comes to my side and explains the situation for me until I can speak. Sometimes paramedics swarm in and stick a needle in my arm and strap me to a gurney, prepared to take me to the hospital. I’m thankful for those who thought enough to call for help, and yet can’t help laugh a bit inside when explaining to paramedics that I have epilepsy and I’ll be fine.

Where I go, I go with my husband, family or friends. When living with epilepsy, especially if it’s not under control, it’s always better to take precautions should anything happen. Never make assumptions, even if you’re feeling top-notch. When having a seizure in public, it’s nice to know that in most cases, you can have confidence that people will do the right thing.

What should you take when going out in public?

  • A family member or friend
  • Epilepsy ID bracelet
  • I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) card
  • Epilepsy medication
  • Cell phone
  • Water

Should a seizure occur, which of course is not what we want, take that situation and turn it into education for anyone who may be present.

Don’t allow epilepsy to prevent you from living your best life. Yes, it’s vital to take precautions when out in public, but step out in confidence knowing you are prepared no matter what.

Getty image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz.

Originally published: June 5, 2019
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