No Known Cause

Monday morning.

Dropped my son off at his school this morning; saw him stop and stare at something there at the cars.  I saw a little child sitting on the sidewalk there, between some people (his mother, obviously, and some school children).  My son then walked on and went to class.  I looked more closely as the kiddie got up – he didn’t seem hurt, but by now I could see that there was another person lying on the sidewalk who had been shielded by him.  I got out to offer my help; thought maybe there had been an accident of some sort.  A little surprised at my son for walking away (he does First Aid), but I was about to understand, why.

There was a girl on the pavement having an epileptic seizure.

I asked if there was something I could do to help, and eventually there was, no matter how small: I could go and inform the lady at the office that they were bringing a girl to the sick room.

What I knew about seizures, was diddly squat.  I offered to call emergency services and the mom declined.  I saw in her eyes, her whole demeanour, that she is no stranger to this scenario.  The two little brothers were helping here and there make their older sister comfortable, but the family interfered minimally with the seizure, basically just putting the girl in recovery position on her side repeatedly.  One of the little brothers checked that the friend was okay who had caught his sister’s fall.

I mean, these kiddies couldn’t have been older than maybe eight or nine.  Still the calm and strength that they projected, really shook me.  The mom comes across as an absolutely rock-steady being, a veteran.

First-aid wise, there apparently isn’t much you can do for someone who is having a seizure.  You catch their fall, if you happen to be next to them if they collapse.  You basically make them comfortable, put them on their side (it opens air passages) and cushion their head with something if you can.  I didn’t know this or I’d have offered my jersey.  And you move them away from danger if they are, for instance, in the middle of the road when they collapse; but that’s the only reason to move them, to protect them from injury.  Otherwise, you move objects out of their way rather than move them.  Work gently with them, and time the seizure (if it lasts beyond 5 minutes, call the ambulance).  You never put a spoon in their mouth or hold them down.

Some good guidelines at this link.

What causes epilepsy?  According to this link, 70% of cases have no known cause.  The other 30% are from previous brain injury of some sort caused during encephalitis, or trauma during birth, accidents etc.

No known cause? 

They said that for the colic of my first baby, too.  And after months of misplaced trust in a medical profession that was basically just telling me to wait it out (colic moms will understand how this can make you lose your faith in the med profession), a homeopath fixed the problem in 24 hours.  From fully-blown colic to a healthy baby, in a day.  No:  That was certainly not her “outgrowing” the colic.  It was from 100% to zero.  I don’t know.  When the medical profession says, “no known cause”, the researcher in me is triggered.  Someone said: A scientist is a person who believes in the ignorance of the experts.

A second thing that I then encountered (when I went to alert the office) was another child who was asking the office for help because she had difficulty breathing.  The office has no emergency asthma medication, in fact they have nothing – legally they are not allowed to keep any medicines.

Asthma?  I do know about asthma!  My son has had asthma since he was small.  He carries a pump with him; this is an essential, a potential life-saver.  Unlike in the movies, asthmatics don’t wait until they are lying unconscious on the floor; they use their asthma pump when their chest begins to tighten.  But you never “lend” your asthma pump to another person experiencing an attack, because 1) you don’t know how they will react to the medication and 2) you don’t know if they will have an allergic reaction to your spit of which there are always traces on the asthma pump.

Asthma isn’t one of those “no known cause” ailments.  It has too many known causes.  The mechanism is well researched; the trigger can be anything from an allergen to an infection to, in severe cases, emotional strain.  Exercise can trigger asthma.  (However, swimming is apparently excellent to help asthma sufferers build lung capacity.)  Asthma sufferers need to record what triggers their attacks; whether they are more sensitive to dry or moist air, cold or warm.

The only thing the school can do to stave off such emergencies is to employ a trained nurse or have a school doctor on the premises.  I know that this is a luxury these days; a generation back it was standard practice.   There’s something wrong with this picture.

17 thoughts on “No Known Cause

  1. My son was struck by a car when he was three. The injury rendered him paralyzed from the neck down and he required a respirator until he died at the age of 32. It is difficult to determine whether a doctor or a medical system understands what it was to get things best and, in one instance, I had to defy the whole hospital where he spent the rest of his life to obtain a rather expensive solution to save his life. I can give no advice in this matter. It is a problem of hunch and hope and luck and trying very hard to get things right. My son was born in Tennessee and I came from New York but my wife was Finnish and the care for my son here in Helsinki was far superior to that offered in New York City.

  2. That’s helpful info, as were the links.
    My father had a seizure when he was in hospital before he died. Never had one before. Never had another. Odd.
    Partner’s niece died in her twenties after having one at night. She’d developed epilepsy in her twenties (?) but no signs of it as a kid and he’d babysat her often enough.
    Another friend, now in her sixties, developed it say, seven or so years ago. She was an agricultural worker, and although she preferred working on organic crops, that wasn’t always the case and we all wondered if the accumulation of chemicals over the years had played its part. She obv had to give up work too. They are still testing her and messing about. Poor woman must feel like a guinea pig.

  3. Not quite in the same ball park but …

    One of the dogs had a seizure last November. If you have never experienced this it is scary as hell. Animal or human.
    She was diagnosed as having epilepsy. At 7.
    Before that,never suffered any sort of trauma or showed any signs at all.
    She’s on meds twice a day and has never suffered since.

    • One of my friends dogs started having them too. She said it was horrific to watch, the dog looked so frightened. Sal was in her teens and they were getting worse and in the end they agreed with the vet that she would be pts. A sad ending for a lovely dog. Paws crossed that Bella or Bobbi stays safe on the meds.
      The ‘why’ is definitely perplexing though.

    • Bella seems perfectly stable, thank the gods.
      But we always get a bit on edge if we see the tablets are running low.
      For some odd reason ( that I cannot remember) few vets stock this particular medication.
      Our regular vet ran out and could not get hold of them. We were forced to frantically phone around until we found a vet who had a supply and has said he can get more.

  4. Schools are now, by law, not allowed to give any medication whatsoever. A school may treat wounds after a fall or from playing sport. A school usually has a teacher, or a First Aid group who can help an injured person, but otherwise the parents are called or an ambulance summoned.
    The reason for the “No Meds” is simply to avoid any legal procedure by the parents if something goes wrong.

    • That’s right, and I wouldn’t want a teacher to administer stuff like Ritalin at will. I’m only sorry that there isn’t a qualified school nurse any longer.

    • In all my years of teaching I have only known of a visiting nurse for the schools many years ago. I remember being checked out by a nurse when I was in Std 7 in 1959 and never again.

    • I went to a semi-private school, maybe that was the reason for the privilege. When I was in primary school, the school nurse was a constant. In high school then she had somehow disappeared. I think they had already changed the system. But I remember we had to line up for our complete health check-up once in a while, and they were very strict we had to have school-uniform underwear! (Like, who the heck ever checks on your underwear? Now you know!) 😀

  5. In my limited experience, seizures are much more stressful for the onlooker than the convulser, many of whom can adjust to them and sometimes feel one coming on and sit down. If it is epilepsy, there is medication that appears to work if taken regularly, at least in some cases.

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