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Living With Epilepsy : Tips for Everybody

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LIVING  WITH

Marriage – Children – Pregnancy

Tips

Accepting

For Parents

Driver’s Licence

Insurance

Work

 

 

Marriage – Children – Pregnancy

There should be no problem to have a normal relationship. Even on a sexual
level. Nevertheless, it is necessary to draw your attention to the interaction
between your anti-epileptic medication and the contraceptive pill. Ask your
neurologist or doctor of house for counsel about this.

Having children shouldn’t be any obstacle either. Deliberate well together if
you are of size to support this new situation. Aren’t the seizures too severe to
also assume the responsibility for a child? Do you have (with your epilepsy) a
certainty of work ? Etc. Is there a good agreement in your couple.

During your pregnancy you will certainly need the council of your
neurologist. Both to help decrease or/and control your seizures but also about
other very significant questions. Let your obstetrician know that you are
epileptic and what type of medication you are taking to avoid any complications.

 

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Tips

Let people know – to whom it concerns

People with whom you are very frequently should be made aware what to do. Let
them know what they should do and also what they may not do during and after a
seizure. Their right reaction could be significant for the seizure to have a
safe ending. If necessary, you could carry an identification badge.

Tiredness, stress, alcohol, stroboscopic light and an irregular life.

These are some possible factors which can encourage seizures to occur. Note :
their impact is very individual and you should ask your neurologist or doctor of
house for counsel.

Tiredness

Tiredness is easy to solve : by taking enough rest. Recovering is very
individual. One person needs very little, while another will have to rest a long
time before being fully recovered. Also note : where as you might be taking
quite some mediation, you will always need more time than someone who isn’t
taking any.

Stress

There are various types of stress. You can distinguish the stress with work,
the emotional stress, the stress due to the psychic and psychological pain,
etc. 

The best way to loose your stress is to practise a sport. Seek out something
which you like to do and of which you can do for life. Each sport can be taken
into account. If necessary, ask your treating neurologist for council if ever
you have a doubt to start with any kind of sport. 

You do not like sport ? You can always opt for a type of relaxing : Tai Chi
Quan, Yoga, etc.

Avoid as much as alcohol and other intoxicating substances. They all cause
epileptic seizures. It is also known that too much alcohol might lead to
seizures.

If you wish to take one or another medication (for headaches, for example):
read the instructions of use well. There might be a strong interaction between
drugs and this could result in a less effective anti-epileptic drug.

Stroboscopic light

These are high frequency flashes. Television, the flashes which are to use in
the discotheques, the screens of computer, etc are examples of stroboscopic
light. 

With certain epileptics this might induce a seizure, others aren’t influenced
by the flashes. Ask your neurologist in which case you are.

Regular Life

It is almost imperative for each epileptic to lead a regular life. This
signifies getting up, going to bed, having your meals at the same hour every
day. 

For the majority of people, this isn’t realistic. Nevertheless, what you
could try is to get as close as possible to this ideal picture. Try it out : you
will notice that it will help.

 

Medication.

Did you just recently find out that you forgot to take your medication ? Do
not take a double dose in order to correct forgets it. Better is to continue
taking the regular dosage of your medication. 

This is necessary to keep the level of medication in your blood at a decent
level. Double sight can occur when a drug is too highly concentrated in the
blood for the patient to support. This phenomenon can arrive to you in the event
of double (or higher) dosage.

In the majority of the cases, this can be easily resolved with a few hours of
sleep. The best solution is nevertheless to contact your neurologist.

Psychology

Problems of personality and a backwardness are psychological side effects
which might occur. Sometimes the council of a psychologist or psychiatrist is
necessary. One should not be afraid of the psychological word or
psychiatrist. 

If you have problems, to suit you in the search of a professional, remember
the story of the plumber (cf. general). If you have psychological problems, you
also need a professional council : you will need a psychologist or the
psychiatrist.

Anticipate

Learn all about your body there is to know so that you can learn how to
anticipate your seizures. If you have aura’s you might have a notion when your
seizure will follow. Thus, you will be able to some preventive measures. You
could for example lay down in a safe place, move away from fragile objects of
which you could be injured, warn somebody, etc. 

Also, if you are aware that, for example, tiredness gives you more attacks,
you could try to have a good rest. 

In certain cases a protection for the head, e.g. a helmet made out of rubber,
will be necessary. Certain epileptics with Grand Mal do not sense any aura and
thus can’t anticipate their seizures. They fall very violently and they can
injure themselves very severely.

 

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Accepting

What is probably most difficult to learn is to accept one’s epilepsy. The
faster this happens, the easier you will have it to go on with your life. You
can do (almost) everything. Accept your limitations, by realizing that there are
people who are far more restricted than you are. 

Relativizing, that is the principal tool. The restrictions, the wounds, the
valuable objects which you could have broken during the fall. In the end you
will understand that there are other things that have a higher priority. That,
at a certain moment you will be able to say “I don’t give a damn” at
one or other unpleasant situation. Humour is also a very useful weapon in order
to relativize the crises. 

Do not dramatize your epilepsy and do not abuse it either. Do not use it for
example as a pretext so that people would have pity. Don’t go running about with
a panel around the neck stating “I have the epilepsy”. Letting your
immediate surroundings know should be more than sufficient, don’t you also think
so ?

 

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For Parents

Break the taboo.

First of all, get informed. Do not give all in hands of your doctor – he
cannot know everything. Read on the subject – speak with other parents. The more
you know, the better you will be able to assist your child. Teach your child
what you learned. Accept your child’s epilepsy. 

A child accepts a situation very easily if a good explanation is given. A
child will have less problems to accept the seizures if it sees that the parents
have not much problems accepting it. 

Nothing is more terrifying than to be captive of your own body. That is the
feeling of a seizure. Nothing is as fearful as not knowing what is happening to
you.

Do not show your child horror or your shame. And do not allow others to do
so, neither afterwards, nor during the crisis. Certain epileptics remain
conscious during the crisis. There can’t be any denying or disguising of the
incident either. Instead, show others how to react correctly. Their reaction
might determine the seizure to end well, i.e. without injury. 

Too much protection isn’t advised either. Tending towards a very large type
of protection is very natural. But, on the other hand, too much protection could
result in a problem to become an independent adult.

 

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Driver’s licence

This concerns the Belgian visitors only. For information about local
policies, please contact your Ministry of Transportation. 

An adaptation was made on the Belgian legislation of March 23, 1998. You are
urged to ask for the opinion of your neurologist. 

All depends on several criteria and the type of your epilepsy. You can
consult the site of the Ministry for the Communications and the Infrastructure –
Driving licence, cf Links . More specifically, follow the link of part 3. on the
KB of the 23/03/98 – art. 21 �1. – appendix 6 on the driving licence and
epilepsy.

In general one could say that the neurologist is obliged to give you a
certificate before you can obtain a driving licence. With the certificate you
can obtain the licence B, by example, during one year, with extension every 3
years. One condition: be without crises during one year (again: this is very
individual). You will find more on the Links page towards the KB of the 23/03/98
– art. 21 �1. – appendix 6 on the driving licence and epilepsy. 

See to it that you have a certificate. If not, you are likely, in the event
of accident, not to receive a refunding at all from your insurance in the event
of accident. Not mentioning all sorts of other possible complications.

 

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Insurance

You can obtain a special insurance at the Belgian League against Epilepsy
(address: Ave. Albert 135, 1190 Brussels, 02/344.99.07). It covers you, e.g.,
against damages caused to thirds due to an epileptic seizure.

 

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Work

Telling the truth will always be greatly appreciated by the people you know.
This also applies for your (future) employment. You will gain more respect with
mentioning that you have epilepsy than hiding it. A small explanation is better
than the astonishment and disgust from your colleagues and your employer. 

What’s more, your colleagues could administer the wrong first-aid. It is
therefore a good idea to let the people you work with every day know exactly
what to do and not do.

If you don’t get the job because you are epileptic, don’t be discouraged and,
especially, don’t let this not discourage you from finding something better.
Consider this : if people can’t take you because you are epileptic, than this is
their problem, not yours. It is their problem if they can’t handle it and up to
them to learn how to accept it.

 

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Last update of this page : 25-Jun-2004


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