Things You Can't Do with a Seizure Disorder
People living with some kind of health disorder do not live normal lives. Living with the conditions of their disorder becomes the new normal, and it can be limiting in ways they may not have anticipated. Because we live in fear of the unknown, people without these disorders do not understand and fear developing one or being around those that have them; those with them cannot believe their bad luck. Some people feel sorry for them, while others do not, so they are justified in feeling sorry for themselves. For people who have a seizure disorder like I do, here’s a list of things I have been told by doctors that we cannot do.
1) Go swimming. It doesn’t take much water to drown someone. Even a two-second seizure may be disastrous. This activity may be permitted if you use the buddy system and have someone watching you (and only you) at all times.
2) Go climbing. The same restrictions that apply to swimming also apply here. However, this particular danger involves falling from some kind of height rather than drowning. Be careful even when using a stepstool.
3) Operate heavy machinery. Most people don’t want you on the road if you are prone to seizures. It’s dangerous for public safety as well as your own. In at least two cases that have made the news, children have had to take the wheel from adult drivers who have had a seizure while driving and guide the vehicle safely to a stop on the side of the road. In addition, the medication for seizure disorder can make you drowsy. While it is possible for people with seizure disorders to obtain their driver's license and remain on the road, they have to have a doctor's note ensuring that their condition is stabilized and that the medication does not make them drowsy enough to impair their ability to function.
4) Reproduce. In addition to passing on a genetic predisposition for seizures (although tests are still being done), women with seizure disorders cannot bear children. The medication is not safe for the unborn child, and being off the medication is dangerous to the survival of either one.
5) Be exposed to rapidly pulsating lights. Strobe lights can be fun, but they can also mess up your brain. This is why they tell you not to watch television in the dark, but movie theaters are just as bad; the special effects can trigger a seizure or make a seizure-prone person sick. In Japan, people who watched the Porygon episode of the first season of Pokemon had seizures and were hospitalized (the strobe effect had been Pikachu’s fault, but Porygon got the blame and did not appear in any future episodes). Also, if a famous person has a seizure disorder, being followed by the paparazzi could be his or her worst nightmare in more ways than one. All those flashbulbs in his or her face could bring on a seizure, and the sad thing is that the paparazzi would probably keep snapping photos after a seizure has brought the celebrity down.
6) Take most kinds of antihistamines. These medications may lower the seizure threshold. The only safe countermeasure against a stuffed-up nose may very well be nasal spray. To prevent yourself from getting sick before it's too late, drink plenty of fluids and take vitamins; vitamin D2 is also recommended, as seizure medication also decreases these levels in otherwise healthy patients. People with seizure disorder may also be prone to migraines and should be advised of what remedies they should use.
7) Survive without health insurance or free clinics. Sadly, those with seizure disorders and other conditions may be classified as liabilities. It certainly doesn’t help if it comes up during a job interview, even if you have it under control. As we have seen, it can still happen at any time even if you can afford to take care of yourself the right way. Judging by cases that have made the news, it has become apparent that some people are willing to commit petty crimes just to get arrested so that they can have access to the care that they need.
Having a seizure is not just about swallowing your tongue. It is an electrical storm in the brain causing the functions to temporarily shut down. For instance, my heart stops beating and I can’t breathe, causing me to lose consciousness. The attacks have ranged in duration from two seconds to two minutes. When I come out of it, I am dizzy and tired and may feel the need to vomit. I consider myself lucky to be alive because others never wake up. How long I will be able to say that I don’t know, but whatever will happen will happen.
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