March 26 is International Purple Day. Purple Day is dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy. People in countries around the world are invited to wear purple to help spread awareness. Why purple? Seizures are usually caused by abnormal electrical impulses in the brain and an approach to treat them is to relax the brain and nervous system. Lavender,which is the color purple,is known to have a relaxing effect on people.
My daughter has autism, anxiety, attention deficit disorder and epilepsy. If I could take away any of these disabilities it would be epilepsy. Epilepsy is devastating. I remember each and every seizure she has had and there have been many. There is no indication of when and where one might happen. As a mother it is very hard to send your child off every morning not knowing if they will have a seizure. The scariest part is wondering if people will know what to do when one does happen.
There are different types of seizures. They range from repetitive movements such as blinking your eyes or smacking your lips to losing consciousness and falling to the ground. My daughter has grand mal seizures. This means she falls to the ground, her eyes go off to the side and her body makes jerking movements. To anyone that has never seen someone having a seizure before it is very frightening to watch. To us, it is second nature. When she has a seizure we automatically go into seizure mode and know what to do. We are fortunate however that her seizures have become very controlled and don’t happen too often anymore.
It has been nearly a year since her last seizure. We were in line at the zoo waiting to see her favorite Disney princesses, Elsa and Anna. Without any warning she fell to the ground and had a seizure. She doesn’t remember anything. I remember a bunch of people pulling out their phones to call 911 and a very kind man in front of us took off his coat and put it under her head so she wasn’t laying in the dirt. He stayed there with us until she came to and was able to sit up. After she had come out of the seizure the staff at the zoo had Elsa and Anna come over to her. It was definitely not how we had envisioned meeting them that day.
After she has a seizure we all get a little depressed. She has a massive headache and is very tired. It is so hard to watch your child laying in bed knowing that they are in a lot of pain. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a parent when their child has seizures everyday, sometimes several a day. The stress must be unbearable.
So what do you do if you witness someone having a seizure? If they are having a seizure that doesn’t cause them to fall, stay with them until it is over and make sure they are safe. These seizures usually only last 15 to 20 seconds. If someone is having a seizure that causes them to lose consciousness, make sure the area is clear of anything that could hurt them and try and roll them on their side if they are on the ground. Next loosen any tight fitting clothing near their neck. It is very important not to put anything in their mouth. If the person doesn’t come to after a few minutes and starts to turn blue call 911.
There are 3.4 million people nationwide that have epilepsy. It is devastating to live with and devastating to watch. Wear something purple on March 26 to help bring awareness to epilepsy and those living everyday with the uncertainty of not knowing when their next seizure will be. Take a few minutes to learn about seizures and how you can help in an emergency.