SEIZURES/ EPILEPSY IN THE FAMILY
- Definitions and Descriptions
- What causes or triggers seizure?
- Effects of Epilepsy on the individual and the family
- Control, treatment and cure for Epilepsy
For the purpose of this post and to make for a clear understanding of the subject, let me simply define seizure as a disorder of the nervous system which manifests by the person falling to the ground with complete loss of consciousness and violent jerking and stiffening of the entire body muscles, the whole episode usually lasting just less than one minute. Epilepsy is simply defined as repeated episodes of seizures. On all occasions, the sufferer experiences some difficulty breathing and may bite his tongue or urinate involuntarily while the seizure is on. In most cases also, the patient utters a pathetic loud cry or groan that precedes the seizure. He also experiences a very high body temperature but begins to sweat profusely immediately after the seizure ends. Also immediately after each session of seizure, the person usually falls into a very deep sleep that can last between some minutes and about three hours. There are actually various types of seizure depending on which part of the brain that the seizure is coming from but that is not my priority here now.
CAUSES OF EPILEPSY
Despite extensive knowledge and research in medical sciences over a long period of time and up to this moment, scientists are yet to be very sure of the very reason why some cells in the body decide to be disobedient and eventually lead to cancer. This is exactly the same with the case of epilepsy and seizures. In this case, experts are still researching to unravel what in the first place would make the neurons and neurotransmitters to discharge abnormal electrical signals into the central nervous system that eventually lead to seizures. However, it is known that there are things or conditions that can trigger off seizures, some of which are:
- MSG: Monosodium glutamate (or msg) is the major active ingredient contained in most food sweeteners or additives. High consumption of this food item has really been proven to instigate seizures as it is considered to be a neurotoxin on its own.
- Consistent consumption of processed white flour products over a long period can also trigger seizure in some people.
- Also, when normal physiological processes are not allowed to take place, this can initiate an onset of seizure. For example, when one does not get enough sleep. Remember that especially for a very young person, anxiety and boisterousness are part of his life and naturally lead to sleeplessness. With certainty, lack of adequate sleep is a major culprit in the onset of seizure. Any form of internal or physiological pressure also encourages seizure. By this, I mean that if the bowels are under pressure for the patient to visit the toilet and is prevented from doing so, seizure can set in. In the same manner, if the urinary bladder is under pressure and needs to be evacuated but is prevented from doing so, this may be an invitation for seizure. And so, don’t keep feces in the bowels and don’t keep urine in the bladder.
- Exposure to extreme temperatures ( that is, very cold weather or very hot weather) can also trigger seizure.
- Being dehydrated is also a major trigger. Remember that anti epileptic drugs ( AEDs) usually tend to dehydrate the body as most of them are diuretic by action, that is, they cause the patient to urinate frequently.
- Total restraint: The person may like to do certain things that please him even though such things may not necessarily be beneficial to him or may even harm him. Frequently preventing him from freely doing what he wants to do could easily trigger seizures.
- Naturally, the owner of an epilepsy patient will always not feel comfortable leaving him to go out to the public for fear of the seizure striking at any time, as it usually occurs without the person being ready. Unfortunately, this confinement, just like 6 above, is known to cause some psychological upset that can eventually trigger off seizure.
- Noise of any type is never a friend of the brain, especially a very sudden and loud sound. Also, exposure to a continuous noise persistently in a confined environment for a long time is a sure seizure trigger.
There could be other triggers that this post may not go into now. Having said all these, you can now go ahead to see what are the effects of epilepsy in the family.
EFFECTS OF EPILEPSY ON BOTH THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE FAMILY
Remember that this website is dedicated to the good of every family across the world with Africa as the focal point. Just like my book ‘How To Enjoy Happy Family’ was written based on the experience gained from my personal interactions with so many families with so many different backgrounds that spanned over ten years, I am also writing this post not as a medical expert but from the experience gained from having a family member as well as other people who suffered epilepsy, for over five years. Before I go on, let me first point out some beliefs about seizure and epilepsy among various peoples of the world, whether these beliefs are true or not.
- Surely, epilepsy is one of the oldest health conditions that has lived with mankind for a very long time now.
- It had, and has, been associated with spiritual or evil forces which led one notable Italian Catholic Bishop in early twentieth century to give some rings and other materials to sufferers to wear in order to ward off the evil spirits. In present day Africa including Nigeria and parts of East and Central Africa, some people still believe that through witchcraft, both the male and female agama lizard, monitor lizard or wall gecko can be conjured and placed into a person’s stomach such that whenever they fight in that person’s stomach, the person will be down with epilepsy. Sounds funny! We shall see something later. Just read on.
- Epilepsy is never infectious or contagious. As I mentioned earlier, it is true that medical experts have not yet been able to pin-point the exact cause of seizures, yet, the vast knowledge on the subject gathered so far clearly indicates that seizure or epilepsy is never contagious. There is definitely nothing to be afraid of as far as the saliva or foam from the mouth of seizure patient is concerned. You can do so many things together without any fear. Indeed, you can sleep together, eat together, play together, bath together, live in the same room, hug and shake hands, etc.
- Epilepsy is never a health condition just for the poor peoples of the world, but a disease of the ignorant. In a Nigerian language ( Igbo), there is this popular adage, ‘Ihe onye amaghi kariri ya’ (what you don’t know is lord or master over you). And as a matter of fact, about eighteen million Americans that suffer from epilepsy do so not because they cannot afford the cost of AEDs but simply because they are not well-informed about the disease. The same thing applies to some other people in other parts of the world.
Now, about the effects of epilepsy on the particular sufferer as well as other members of the family, there are both social and economic considerations. The negative social effect of having an epilepsy patient as a family member can really be weighty. devastating and damaging. Out of ignorance, some people still ascribe epilepsy to evil spirit affair. And for this reason, many people avoid having to associate with not only the sufferer but all members of his family. In the same vein, some people deliberately avoid both the sufferer and his family members on their belief that associating with them will lead to them being infected with epilepsy. Specifically, I know of a man who carried his goods to church with the intention to market them to his church members after the service. But alas!, the seizure struck him while the service was still on. After the service, he sold nothing because virtually nobody patronized him, having witnessed what happened to him barely an hour ago. What a huge disappointment! Sometimes, the stigmatization and humiliation are unbearable because instead of referring you by your name, people may choose to refer to you as that man or woman whose son or daughter has epilepsy. In my own case, it was really more than humiliating because on two occasions, two different schools rejected my son on the basis that other parents would withdraw their children for the fear (out of ignorance) that they would be infected with the disease. And for one woman, her self pity and frustration came to a peak when after her child had experienced epilepsy for consecutive three days, the child started putting up behavior like a mentally sick person. Such behaviors are really not quite out of place because remember that each bout of seizure comes with distortion of normal mental functioning and motor co-ordination.
It is for this reason that children who suffered epilepsy for a long time also take quite a long time before being able to cope well with academic work. What makes the whole thing even more disturbing to family members is that the epileptic person on most occasions does not even know that he undergoes those episodes of seizures. So, we can now see that even though only one person may be suffering from epilepsy in the family, yet all the members of the family are affected negatively. Now the economic burden placed on the family because of a member suffering from epilepsy is quite enormous. Anti epileptic drugs are quite expensive. Option of surgery is not cheap either, and is just a fifty per center. Also, for the child to repeat a class or two is a colossal waste of time and money. Also, choosing a Ketogenic diet as a method of treatment is both costly and time consuming. Some people are also known to have lost their jobs because of suffering from epilepsy as the management of such organization could not keep an unproductive staff. Despite all the despair and gloom as painted above, hope is not totally lost as regards restoring an epileptic family member to a normal, happy and productive life. And how can this be achieved? Just read the following paragraphs and you will be amazed.
CONTROL, TREATMENT AND CURE FOR EPILEPSY
Despite a tremendous advancement in medical research and development that has seen the world spend over one trillion dollars on health matters over the last century, some diseases have defied all efforts to cure or eradicate then from mankind. They include cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, leprosy, Down’s syndrome, epilepsy, etc. However, for epilepsy, bringing it down to near zero or total cure is something that looks like a mission impossible based on previous experiences by practitioners.
The first step towards getting a positive treatment result is to disregard that false belief that epilepsy is an infliction by evil spirits because all the modern treatments deployed by experts have nothing to do with the spirits, at least everything is made public. Five basic methods are to be considered when managing epilepsy and include surgery, chemotherapy, nutrition/diet, psychotherapy and, what I call, the final option.
Records are available to indicate that neurosurgeons have successfully treated epilepsy by surgery, reducing it to a significantly low level. However, the success rate is very small and the survival rate of the patient is said to be less than fifty percent. From all these indications and more, we can affirm that surgical operation may really not be the best option to treat epilepsy, considering the high cost of treatment also.
A second option of treatment is chemotherapy that is use of drugs for treatment. Though this may not be as expensive as neurosurgery, anti epileptic drugs are relatively expensive and available through prescriptions by experts only. However, experts have consistently warned against potential harm AEDs have on both the kidneys and liver after a prolonged usage. These various side effects seem to diminish the joy derived from the efficacy offered by these drugs. Another problem with anti epileptic drugs is that some of them are really not applicable across board. For example, the World Health Organization recommends phenobarbitone, or phenobarb for short as a good AED for people suffering seizures in developing countries. But while it is good for some people, it also acts as a trigger in some people. Because of this challenge, it may take some doctors some months or even years before they will be able to come up with a suitable drug combination for each particular patient. And so, this makes the option of chemotherapy not a perfect way to handle epilepsy.
A third option to manage epilepsy is through the appropriate nutrition or diet. Ketogenic diet is obviously the most popular choice in this method. The major drawback here is that it is always very difficult to maintain or keep to the specifics as outlined by the dietitian or nutritionist. Also, it consumes a lot of time. However, patients who patiently and dutifully keep to the rules are known to have received a very positive result.
A fourth option is psychotherapy. By this, I don’t mean employing the services of a professional psychotherapist, no. Having spent a couple of years with a family member who suffers epilepsy, I believe you will be in a good position to predict what he can do on certain occasions or circumstances that may not be good for him. Then you move fast to prevent him. But do not rigidly restrict him. Apply wisdom and moderation. Most importantly, please always remember that with each session or episode of seizure, the reasoning capacity and ability of the brain of the patient is badly affected, taking his brain’s smartness some steps backwards. And so, always be patient with him and shout less at him. Just come down to his level of intelligence. It is really not easy or comfortable managing such a person but the good news is that when the epilepsy is gone, he will gradually return to normal life, even though it may take a long time. Again, ensure that at all times, do not allow the patient to be under any physiological pressure as I explained earlier. For the sake of repetition, what I mean is this, once the person is pressed either to urinate or defecate, let him be encouraged to do so immediately, as a delay can trigger seizure.
Now, here is what I call ‘the final option’. In essence, some experts can call it Anthroposophy when combined with the fourth option above. A major step towards freedom from epilepsy is taking one’s normal balanced diet. In this regard, laboratory tests should be conducted to determine the vitamin and mineral levels of the patient. This is very important because AEDs usually tend to deplete these two classes of food in the body. Technically speaking therefore, it means that one may be having balanced diet but is not really getting the full complements of the required nutrients. Any shortfall detected through the tests should be taken care of, and this is followed by a gradual withdrawal of the AEDs and replacing them with supplements of vitamins and minerals, in addition to taking some quantity of a mixture of boiled ginger/ Holy Basil (just less than half a cup). Holy Basil is the common name for the popular Nigerian vegetable, nchu-anwu, or scent leaf in English
With this simple recipe, you will be amazed that epilepsy will permanently depart from your beloved family member. Yes, this sounds unbelievable that an illness which has consumed so much time and caused so much financial distress, shame, agony and discomfort to the family for many years just has to disappear in such a simple fashion. This is really something that must push serious medical researchers into doing more research on the real nature of this disease. I just liken it to young David with a simple sling killing much older Goliath that was heavily armed and protected. But the very question to ask now is, what really happened and how did it really happen? While I leave the answers to come from medical experts on neurology, I can only offer to explain that after reading up some bits of pharmocodynamics and pharmacokinetics, I am inclined to declare that epilepsy is primarily a vitamin/mineral deficiency disease. Just fill up the deficit and drink moderate amounts of boiled ginger/ nchu-anwu, just about half a cup. Both ginger and nchu-anwu are veritable natural sources of antioxidants which can effectively clear off neurotoxins. They are also good natural blood thinners and this makes for easy flow of free blood to the brain. And just as simple as that, the illness that has harassed and embarrassed my family for over five years is gone for ever. Really great!
Please remember that this website seeks to promote happiness, peace and unity in all families around the world. To achieve this for your family, please get and read a copy of my book, ‘How to Enjoy A Happy Family’, which is soon to be published, or read up my previous posts on this website. You can also contact me personally through Email on :
firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile phone +2348060402474.
Please do enjoy your family and marriage.