Tuesday, February 11, 2014


E is for epilepsy. Epilepsy affects over 50 million people worldwide. That's more than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined.

When I was a boy I suffered from a mild form of epilepsy. I had episodes called petit mals. A petit mal seizure is the term commonly given to a staring spell, most commonly called an "absence seizure." It is a brief (usually less than 15 seconds) disturbance of brain function due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. I had no idea that other people did not experience them. I could feel them coming on and knew to sit down or hold on to something for a few seconds.

School Photo

The first time that my Mother witnessed one of my petit mals she was very scared. I guess that my eyes rolled back in my head. I knew that for those few seconds that I could not see, but did not know that my eyes rolled back. I didn't think that it was a big deal, but my Mom said I had to see the doctor as soon as possible. The doctors were able to control the petit mals with medication, and told me that I would most likely outgrow them by the time I was 20. Fortunately I did, and was taken off of the medication by the time I was 18 or 19.

Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. It’s also called a seizure disorder. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy.

A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain. One in 10 adults will have a seizure sometime during their life.

Seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. They can have many symptoms, from convulsions and loss of consciousness to some that are not always recognized as seizures by the person experiencing them or by health care professionals: blank staring, lip smacking, or jerking movements of arms and legs.

Please take the time to learn more about this condition that affects over 50 million people worldwide. Based on recent surveys, The Center For Disease Control estimates that nearly 2.5 million people in the United States have epilepsy, with 150,000 developing the condition each year.

One way to get involved is to participate in Purple Day. Purple Day was started in 2008, by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is an international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide. On March 26, people from around the globe are asked to wear purple and spread the word about epilepsy. You can learn more about Purple Day by going here.


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  1. Thank you for this enlightening post about epilepsy, a great contribution to ABC Wednesday!

  2. An informative post, Richard. I didn't realize that so many people were affected by this disorder.

  3. Did not know that about you. I saw some fellow at college having a seizure, and I didn't know what was happening.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  4. I had heard that children who have been diagnosed with epilepsy can usually outgrow it. But when/if they don't, it can be a life-debilitating condition. Thanks for making us aware of March 26!

    abcw team

  5. Thanks for this Enlightening post.
    I'm glad you have outgrown it.
    I remember classmate having a seizure. It happened many years ago and I think it must have been a Grand Mal.
    Our whole class was so scared.
    It rattled us for the rest of the day. Teacher used it as a learning Experience.

  6. Very informative post. As a kid, one of my neighbors had epilepsy and he had an operation when he was in his twenties I believe. He was very active and after the operation all was well. I just looked up info on the operations for epilepsy and apparently sometimes it does not help at all. As medical technology improves hopefully there will be a definite cure one day.

  7. Thanks Richard for drawing our attention to this disease. I have seen one of my students having a seizure, when I was a teacher at a school for disabled children. It was always very dangerous for he fell on places where he could have hurt his head.
    It is time that the world knows what epilepsy is. Thank you!
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  8. Good to know that this condition and its causes and effects is becoming better known in the world.

  9. The wear purple day is a great idea, there are a surprising number of sufferers. I used to work with someone who had petit mals seizures which used to vary in length.

  10. Our Nephew suffers from seizures with his cancer medications. It's so hard to see him--they really upset him. So glad you outgrew your Epilepsy.