Life-saving skill WHEEL POWER By ANTHONY THANASAYAN
Learning to deal with an epileptic fit can help save lives.
FOUR days more to Chinese New Year, and it seems like everyone is already in a festive mood, including my friend Serene Low from Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur,
It is crucial to know what to do when someone has an epileptic fit
Serene, 49, is an activist for persons with epilepsy (PWE). She has lived with epilepsy for most of her life, having experienced more than a hundred seizures. Today she is on two medically prescribed key drugs to stop her fits. It has been four years since she had any epileptic episodes. Epilepsy occurs because of over-activity of the brain cells, which produces a surge of electricity. Despite her personal battle with the condition, Serene is eagerly awaiting to usher in the Year of the Ox.
“I look forward to embracing the New Year with heaps of optimism,” she writes in an e-mail. “I am confident that with proper monitoring and intake of my anti-epilepsy drugs, there will be many more seizure-free new years for me.
“I hope, too, that more people will be sensitised to epilepsy and know what to do when someone has an attack in public.”
The new year began on a positive note for Serene. Her friend telephoned her recently to relate an unforgettable episode. She was having dinner in a coffee-shop in Bangsar. She couldn’t help noticing the two men who sat at a table in front of her. They were also having their dinner. While waiting for her food to be served, one of the men stood up suddenly. The next thing she knew, he was on the floor. He had fallen with a loud thud. All the customers in the coffee-shop had also witnessed the drama. They looked frightened and confused, and did not know how to respond to the situation. Everyone, except Serene’s friend.
“My friend calmly walked over to the man, and asked the curious crowd to give the man some space so he could have some fresh air.”
She stayed by his side and witnessed his convulsions. Blood trickled down from his temple due to an injury from the fall. She used paper napkins to wipe off the blood from his head as he continued to convulse. One of the customers tried to place a spoon in the hand of the epileptic man. Some people believe that a spoon in the hand of an epileptic will stop a seizure immediately. Another tried to insert a spoon into the man’s mouth. Others suggested that an ambulance be called to the scene.
“My friend asked everyone to stay calm. ‘This gentleman is having an epileptic attack. We have to wait until the seizure stops,’ she explained.”
Serene’s friend noted the time of the man’s fits. She also tried to gauge the duration of the seizure. (This information is useful to doctors who treat epileptic patients). After three minutes, the gentleman came to. He was in a daze and didn’t know where he was or what had happened to him.
“My friend explained to him that he had just had a seizure. She also assured him that he would be fine after a good rest,” said Serene.
“I was so proud of my friend. She had followed all the right procedures in a video I shared with her recently on how to help someone during an epileptic episode. Being armed with the right information is not only useful, it can often save lives,” concludes Serene.