Otherwise entitled “DO NOT CALL 911 Unless… “
Watching someone have a seizure is a scary thing. Or so they tell me. I myself have never witnessed one.
To be quite honest, the idea of watching someone have one freaks me out. I believe this to be a common reaction. There is a certain innate aversion to things that we cannot control or understand, especially those that we perceive to be associated with death.
The reality is that if I continue to have “big” seizures, some of my friends and family will likely confront this unsettling situation. How do I best equip them to do so?
I’ve always believed that knowledge fights fear. When my family moved to Minnesota from Illinois, I knew there were ticks in Minnesota. I was afraid of them. It kept me up for most of the night for the first week we were in our new home. Finally on the fourth or fifth night, I got up and went to the computer upstairs. I researched ticks. I looked at pictures of them. I read about what kinds of diseases they could cause. I read statistics on how many Minnesotans were infected with these diseases each year. And the picture that I came away with was one I could accept and deal with. A much less scary picture than the one my imagination had been painting every night.
I’ve found the same to be true of seizures. Visually, I’m sure they’re scary to watch. And five weeks ago I knew next to nothing about them. But I know a lot about them now and the picture painted by this knowledge is actually a relatively tame one in most cases.
So here is my short list of handy guidelines on what to do if you’re with me when I’m having a seizure. Quick caveat: this applies to me and my wishes. I’m not a doctor. If you see someone else having a seizure, it’s never bad to err on the side of caution and call 911.
Kate’s Seizure Guidelines:
- Don’t let me hit my head on anything, if you can. It’s easier to do this by clearing the area of stuff than by trying to stop my convulsing. If I hit my head hard or seem to have otherwise injured myself on the way down, call 911 so the paramedics can check me out when I come around, just to be on the safe side.
- Check your watch. If I seize for more than three minutes, call 911.
- Other than points 1 or 2 above, it’s pretty much a waiting game. I should stop seizing in less than 3 minutes. I might not be breathing for a minute after that but I should start again pretty quickly. Your call on CPR, but my understanding is that this is pretty much unnecessary in most instances.
- Wait for me to come around. Let me know that I had a seizure and tell me to relax. It’ll take me a while to actually get up to speed, mentally, so don’t expect great answers to questions for a good 10-15 minutes. I won’t remember those first 5-15 minutes anyway, so if there’s anything you’ve just been dying to confess to me, this is the time to do it.
- If I come out of one seizure and go into another one within 5-15 minutes, call 911.
- That’s it. Good job!