Thinking about Epilepsy: Featured Questionnaire #3 (The “I’m Successfully Inspiring/Shaming People into Learning More about Epilepsy” Edition)

Unlike me, subject #3 works in a science-related field, so we should take everything she says extra seriously. She’s also one of the coolest, most caring people I know.


I can definitively say that I'm not getting any better at this.
It’s official: I’m not getting any better at this.


How much did you know about epilepsy before meeting me/before I was diagnosed with epilepsy/before reading my blog/before frantically Googling “epilepsy” three minutes ago?

I would say my previous epilepsy knowledge was medium-low. It was derived from the information I learned (and subsequently forgot) at any of the several first aid courses I took. I learned that there were two types of seizures (grand mal and petit mal, and that is still how I would probably awkwardly refer to them, even though I’m sure there are better terms out there). I didn’t know anything about timing seizures, but did know that it was important to try to prevent the person from hitting their head when falling and while seizing, and that no, no one is every going to swallow their tongue as it is firmly attached to their mouth.

How much about epilepsy do you know now?

I would now feel that my epilepsy knowledge is at a medium level. This is possibly because that, in order to feel like I have a good understanding of something, I need to know ALL ABOUT IT! I have learned through both knowing you and Andrew, and from reading your blog, much more about the effects that epilepsy has on day-to-day lives of people diagnosed with and affected by it. I have learned that tiredness can be a great instigator of seizure behaviour. I have learned that it is important to time seizures to see how serious they are (unfortunately, I don’t recall the thresholds at which they become “serious and requiring medical attention” but I’m hoping I would have a few minutes post-seizure to google that). I have also learned terms such as “tonic clonic” which is synonymous to what myself and old schoolers may call a “grand mal” seizure. I am also more aware now of being more careful not to profile people as “epileptic”, but rather refer to someone living with epilepsy. I don’t feel like I know much about the neurological details behind epilepsy and brain hemisphere communication and whatnot, and while that would be interesting, it’s probably less-essential knowledge.

Have you witnessed me or someone else having a seizure? If so, what did you do besides panic and wish you could run away? If not, would you know what steps to take?

I once witnessed a co-worker having a tonic-clonic seizure as we were belted into a vehicle with the rest of our field crew and burning down a BC highway at 100 km/hr. She was in the front seat, and I was sitting behind her. She started seizing, and was hitting her head against the window, so I stuck a balled up sweater between her head and the window. The driver had pulled over by this point, and we waited it out. We all stayed surprisingly calm. She had notified us previously that she’d had seizures in the past, but hadn’t had one for approximately 12 years, so we notified her parents. We took lunch at the nearest truck stop. She was incredibly disoriented for a couple hours after, so we kept a close eye on her to make sure she didn’t wander off or go onto the highway.

Has this exercise shamed you into learning more about epilepsy and seizure first aid so that you can be more informed and POTENTIALLY SAVE MY (or someone else’s) LIFE? (If it’s made you feel smug about your superior seizure knowledge, congratulations! I’ll buy you a prize.)

Yep. I’ll probably do a little brushing up on my first-aid!


My academic analysis of this questionnaire: scientists are really good at learning stuff and make for excellent friends.

(No offence, non-scientist friends. You’re really smart and good at learning stuff and make for excellent friends too. Most of you, anyhow.)


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