Epilepsy, seizures affect students, people of all ages across the world
300,000 people have a first convulsion each year.
120,000 of them are under the age of 18.
Between 75,000 and 100,000 of them are children under the age of 5 who have experienced a febrile (fever-caused) seizure.
Source: Epilepsy Foundation
On the way to class, Chris Johnson tasted copper in his mouth. He was sweating and breathing abnormally. He had felt a little off all day, struggled to keep himself together. It had been a full 24 hours since he’d ran out of his medication.
Before he even had time to get concerned, he blacked out.
Johnson experienced a seizure around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6 during a social movements course in Copeland Hall, room 244. Emergency vehicles arrived at the site within 10 to 15 minutes of the incident, and he was carried out on a stretcher.
“My classmates, professor and the paramedics were all so responsive and comforting,” Johnson said.
Johnson has a history of non-epileptic seizures, but he was sure he wouldn’t make it out of this one alive, he said.
“I’ve never been more scared in my life,” Johnson said.
A seizures is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that affects how a person acts or behaves for an amount of time, according to the epilepsy website. In some cases people pass out. In other cases they just feel abnormal. Most seizures last a few seconds to a few minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
This time, like the last times, Johnson woke up. His tongue hurt and was bleeding. He had sensitive spots all over his body that would later bruise. He couldn’t recall much of what happened before or after the incident, yet countless thoughts raced through his mind.
“I couldn’t even remember what month it was,” Johnson said. “I mostly just thought about all the things I would have missed out on – growing spiritually, getting my degree, telling everyone how much I love them and going on at least one more date with this sweet girl named Kara.”
Johnson, 29, is a first year graduate student in public administration and a graduate assistant to career services at OU.
“People who experience seizures are often so embarrassed to the point that they stop going out and living their life,” Johnson said. “It shouldn’t be like that. Seizures are unfortunate and serious, but they just happen, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.”
Epilepsy and seizures affect about 3 million Americans of every age, costing about $17.6 billion annually, according to statistics from the Epilepsy Foundation.
Also, about 10 percent the American population will experience a seizure sometime in their lifetime, according to the website’s statistics.
Johnson said he knows people with diagnosed epilepsy who feel inferior because of their condition. That sense of inferiority should be replaced with empowerment, Johnson said.
“Each time it’s over is just another chance for us who experience seizures to be happy and thank God that we get to live yet another day,” Johnson said.