With the start of school happening this week I thought I would jump ahead a bit in my story. Now with a 4th and 6th grader with epilepsy comes having to prepare all their new teachers for the worst case scenario. When you tell a teacher that a child in their class has epilepsy their eyes get big like the OH NO what is going to happen look. When people think of epilepsy they automatically think of the movies where you see a person violently flailing on the ground and to be honest that scares most people. Heck it scares me still to this day.
With each new school year comes another teaching opportunity we have to inform people about epilepsy and seizures. We first have to explain that not all seizures look like the flailing on the ground seizures.
The teachers are taught the subtle signs that Steve has when he has an absence seizure, they learn that when he gets over heated the likelihood of a seizure happening increases. They are all taught the signs to watch to see if Steve is having an absence seizure and not just zoning out. They learn through the year to watch for repetitive finger twitches, shaky hands and biting his lips in a repetitive manner.
With George they learn that where his seizure activity is in his impulse control and decision making lobes of his brains and he is coming down with a cold, on cold medicine or gets over heated he turns into a pig headed child and if you look at him wrong you are likely to see him cry or get so upset and not know why.
One of the medications that they are on restricts their ability to sweat properly so overheating happens very easily. When they over heat they will have some sort of epileptic episode and if it is not noticed they could go into a grand mal seizure the kind that you see on TV. With Steve one of the early signs that he is overheating is his face turns bright red; almost purple. If they don’t have him go inside to cool off with the nurse he will vomit and then it just goes downhill from there.
All the teachers are given a seizure first aid sheet, notes to be warned of overheating and told about the different signs they should look out for and let us know if they notice them. With our kids getting to know their names is the easy part, educating themselves about seizures and epilepsy is the hard part. By the time the year is over they will have read books that we have on epilepsy and become well aware of some of the difficulties they incur because of their disorder.
The start of school means something different for parents and teachers of kids with epilepsy. The parents become the teachers for the benefit of their kids and the teachers become students to help our kids as well as any other child with epilepsy that they may encounter in the future.