A Walk with Epilepsy


Epilepsy. Not the most comfortable ice breaker, but a word that holds such an immense amount of power. Epilepsy brings along pain, confusion, ignorance and anger.

Epilepsy can be defined as a neurological disorder that causes seizures or unusual sensations and behaviors. The diagnosis of Epilepsy comes after three unprovoked seizures or after one with a high risk for more has occurred. Testing must confirm the seizures were epileptic induced.

Epilepsy is not a rare disorder. 65 million people around the world have epilepsy, including 3.4 million people in the United States alone.

The diagnostic process includes physical examinations such as:

  • A complete blood count test
  • Electroencephalogram electrical brain wave testing
  • Computerized tomography scans to check for abnormalities in the brain
  • Functional MRIs to examine the brain activities
  • Positron emission tomography scans to observe the oxygen utility by the brain
  • Single-photon emission computed tomography scan where a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the brain to assess blood flow
  • Neuropsychological examination used to assess thinking, memory and speech skills
  • Magnetoencephalography scans that measure the magnetic field produced by brain activity
  • And other tests to check the normal functionalities of the brain

After an official diagnosis has been made, the doctors decide on a treatment plan and a cocktail of medication that might help tame the seizures. Brain surgery and dieting are also options, along with having devices to monitor the seizures implanted. No treatment plan is guaranteed to work because no one person experiences epilepsy the same. One person’s treatment plan can be catastrophic for another.

This disorder comes along with a lot of emotional trauma, as well as the physical trauma seizures cause. Friendships and relationships are strained. Depression and anxiety can develop. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is common as well.

People often make jokes about epilepsy saying ‘don’t have a seizure’ to tell a person to calm down or quit exaggerating. A fear of seizing in public eventually creeps into you as more and more people make epilepsy a joke and continue to post seizures online to laugh at.

Epilepsy is not a joke.

It is a serious disease that many people have to live with for their entire life. People can die from it. In the summer of 2019 actor, Cameron Boyce died from an epileptic seizure at the age of 20. Some other people who are well known and have struggled with epilepsy are Edgar Allen Poe, Lewis Caroll, Harriet Tubman, Theodore Roosevelt, Prince, Michelangelo, and Vincent van Gogh.

Epilepsy is life-changing and life-threatening. There is no cure, so please be patient and gentle when dealing with a family member or friend who has epilepsy. Stand up to that person in the halls making fun of them. Do the right thing. They need you more than you know.