SEIZURES... and What to do when you witness one.
Growing up in the suburbs, and growing up in a city are two totally different things. For me, growing up in a suburban town in New Jersey, I was surrounded by nature 24/7... Deer, Bears, Hawks (yes my mom once saw a hawk carrying a rabbit in its mouth)-- to continue: It was peaceful, beautiful, and very much as you can imagine, a driving culture.
Living in Astoria NY, though it's a pretty big city and there's many different "neighborhoods", my neighborhood of Astoria Ditmars really has that small town vibe going on. Something very different than how I grew up, and yet, it feels extremely homey. It's the sort of living where you wake up, walk around the corner, see the same workers from the Greek restaurant attached to your building, pass the same deli where the owner Richie knows your name and waves you in to say hi and tells you to grab a Hals seltzer to go on the house, the pizza place across the street who knows your gluten free pizza order to a T, your friends at the liquor store where you are friends with the clerks and even THEIR friends, the laundry attendants who knows by memory the color of your laundry bag and bin... like I said small town living.
Now of course there are disadvantages to living in a town where everyone knows each other as well as everyone's "business", but there's also a LOT of perks. And one of those many perks is that anyone would do ANYTHING for everyone.
3 years ago when my pitbull/lab puppy dog Arya went missing for 3 hours (another story for another time) the whole entire community was literally on foot and in their cars looking for her. With the help of my neighbors and perfect strangers she was ultimately found in thank god, perfect condition.
Small towns--- We are a community. We are a family.
... so when I witnessed a real emergency the other day, I was in awe at how we all came together to help a perfect stranger in need.
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN SOMEONE HAVING A SEIZURE? Well I never witnessed something like this until the other day.
As my roomie/bestie and I were on our daily evening stroll, walking my dog Arya, we were only a block into our routine when we passed the new Bubble Tea spot on 23rd Ave and 27th Street, Papa Don's. Outside the shop at the time were 2 small high top tables and chairs. Arya was the first to notice something was wrong when we all heard a loud ::SMASH/THUD::. It was the kinda noise where you just KNEW something wasn't right.
As we turned around to put a picture to the sound, we witnessed a guy who was once sitting at one of the high top table and chairs, was now clearly on the ground. His falling was the ::SMASH/THUD:: that alerted us [Arya first] and took us all by surprise. Anyone and everyone who was in close proximity turned their attention to the man who was now on the floor, with his head and arm strangely underneath a parked car and laying completely still. As we ran closer to see what exactly was going on, he started thrashing and convulsing on the ground and a visible bloody gash was now appearing on his head.
....This is when being bald is truly a blessing.
Okay- well I guess maybe not....but this now leads me to the why of this blog.
As I stood there watching this man struggling with his seizure, and blood on his head, I couldn't help but feel completely helpless and it was something that really traumatized me. Not as traumatized as a friends little girl, the age of 5, who had front row seats to watching this terrifying episode. The only thing my roomie/bestie, Arya and I could do at the scene, (as we are both qualified children caretakers) was to cheer up this little girl who was loudly sobbing in shock. We were able to distract her from what was happening by asking her questions, being silly and fun and using Arya (dog therapy) to cheer her up.
...BUT I WANTED TO DO MORE... BUT I JUST DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A SEIZURE, AND WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WITNESS ONE.
1. WHAT IS A SEIZURE? [according to Mayo Clinic]
"A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness. Having two or more seizures at least 24 hours apart that aren't brought on by an identifiable cause is generally considered to be epilepsy."
2. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A SEIZURE? [according to Mayo Clinic] Seizure signs and symptoms may include:
A staring spell
Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
Loss of consciousness or awareness
Cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety or deja vu
3. WHAT CAN CAUSE A SEIZURE?
Lack of Sleep
low blood sugar
... and other complications are some of the few causes of a sudden seizure.
4. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SEIZURES?
Click on one below for more information from the epilepsy society website:
4. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU WITNESS A SEIZURE?
Stay Calm. Stay Calm, Stay Calm. Did I mention, staying calm? It's a scary thing to witness, but you must remember YOU are now the one in control. That means you must have the strength and clear headedness to search the scene for sharp objects or anything that could hurt the suffering individual during their episode.
If the person is laying down, **turn them on their side**. If they are not laying down already, make sure to support their head and provide a safe way for them to "relax".
Talk calmly and remain with the person until their seizure is over.
Call 911 if the seizure is not subsiding or lasts more than 3-5 minutes.
5. ....AND MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT
DO NOT put anything in the persons mouth. This could cause them to break their teeth and/or jaw. It can certainly cause more injury and stress to the already highly stressful episode. ... in the situation that I observed, a stranger ran out of no where and inserted his fingers into the man's mouth. Yes, this stranger was obviously trying to help the man on the ground, but from the sound of his painful screams as the seizing man chomped down on his fingers... ultimately, didn't seem like the BEST idea. Although I do wonder if perhaps a belt, or a purse strap placed in the victims mouth could help. [I am not a physician so I do not have the answer to that question]. Perhaps someone reading this blog may be able to enlighten me regarding my question.
and lastly, do not try to move or hold down the victim. Wait until the ambulance or a qualified doctor or nurse shows up to the scene and await further instructions.
As you can imagine, there is a LOT of information about the brain that the average person obviously does not know. In fact, there is still a lot about the brain that even scientists and doctors are STILL learning about.
I believe it is important in situations like these where you may be involved or witnessing an episode, to read up on the health conditions afterwards and understand how you or someone on the scene can best assist the victim.
For me, I was a bit traumatized by the event, and felt it was necessary to share the information I witnessed and gathered, with you... my lovely, lovely beautiful readers!