What should you do if you encounter someone having a seizure? This is a scenario that can happen to anyone, at any age as my family has learned when my then 14 month old great nephew suddenly had a seizure that went beyond 4 hours. The seizure lasted the duration of the ambulance ride and continued at the hospital. He was then sent to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis.
Seizures can present in multiple ways. When we think of seizures our minds immediately think of the shaking, convulsion type seizures. This is not always how it goes.
Our dear Aiden did not do this. He was found around 5:30AM in his crib, slightly discolored, rigid but not quite stiff, a stare in his eyes. He had drooled puddles into his crib. His lips, face, arms and legs speckled blue and purple.
We weren’t prepared, the 911 dispatcher walked us through it. This felt like forever.
Soothing voices, avoid panic, speak softly to try and comfort him, he said. Aiden was (partially) alert as his eyes were wide open with fear (ours were too), his mom and dad petrified. All of us scared beyond belief.
I took a breath and began following the 911 dispatchers advice, as did Mom and Dad … all of us did, not all at once but taking turns. Somehow we knew to not overstimulate him, somehow by the Grace of God. The best sound I heard that day was I dangled my necklace that has a photo of my Mom and sang the song Aiden and I have always had, “Me and my buddy, my buddy and me” and he made a grunting noise. All I can truly remember is telling him great job buddy, come on, talk with us, use your words baby boy. How we managed to alternate talking and soothing him during that moment, honestly I have no reasoning other than God was with us, guiding us and holding our sweet Aiden as we awaited the ambulance.
Thank you Lord. Our little fighter is still with us!
There are MANY types of seizures, complex partial (temporal lobe) seizures usually begin with a blank stare, chewing and/or random activity. The person may be dazed, clumsy, unaware, unresponsive and perhaps mumbling. They may run, struggle, flail.
Once a pattern is established the same set of actions/symptoms usually (but not always) occur with each seizure.
What can YOU do if you encounter someone having a seizure?
- NEVER put your hands in or near the mouth of a person having a seizure.
- Speak calmly and reassuringly to the patient as well as others/bystanders.
- Call for emergency help. Any seizure that lasts beyond 5 minutes is VERY serious.
- Guide the person away from hazards.
- Stay with the person until he/she is completely aware, this can sometimes be a long time.
- If emergency help agrees, offer to help the person get home, call a family member or a close friend.
- If the person has never had a seizure before and you know this, IMMEDIATELY call 911.