Close Calls

“We know that between 40 to 50 percent of deaths of people who have epilepsy are related to epilepsy. We know that children, for instance, who have epilepsy, have four times greater risk for drowning accidents,” said Braxton Wannamaker, M.D. And 50 percent or more of those who drive have at some time had an accident related to seizures. “There’s something worse than death,” Wannamaker said. “It’s the fear of death. And if we don’t understand what we’re talking about, we’ll never really figure it out and we’ll go on where we are now.”[1]

Most all of the seizures brought ramifications into at least one if not all of the different aspects of my life: self-esteem, social interactions, health, employment… It is, at the least, debilitating to have a seizure. And none are as breathtaking and humbling as those “off guard” close calls with death.

I’ve had quite a few close calls due to my seizures, simply because the location, the time and the type of the seizure is never predictable. I didn’t have the serious or the “mild” seizures happen to me in any specific order. They occurred, as always, in sporadic ways. But I didn’t let that aspect worry or scare me, even after years of hearing others telling me how much more careful I should be, or ‘you could have a seizure’.

Yes, I recognized the reality of my epilepsy and no I didn’t take any “out on the limb” risks, at least not knowingly. The one thing every individual has total control over (except when moms and dads decided for us) is the time we close our eyes and go to sleep. So everyone more or less takes for granted the control of their consciousness and everyone has likely experienced times when they lost their consciousness, due to accidental falls, drinking too much, staying up too late…

However, the disabling disorder of epilepsy; tonic-clonic, complex partial, petit mal seizures, abruptly takes away one’s control of that highly valued personal treasure. So witnessing someone having a seizure and losing control of their consciousness terrifies and shocks everyone.


[1] Epilepsy Foundation, ‘The Silent Issue: Epilepsy as a Cause of Death” Posted: January 1, 2002, 30 July 2006, <http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/epilepsyusa/silent.cfm>