Student Nurse with Epilepsy

  1. 0
    Hello,

    I have had Epilepsy all my life, since I was 8 yrs old, and my seizures are actually very controlled, after having brain surgery. I am currently in Nursing School, this is something I have always wanted to do. I recently had a bad seizure in school while doing clinical, I was so embarrassed I had skipped my meds a couple days, I know stupid. I feel so embarrassed going back to class, I feel like everyone is going to think differently about me and think I am crazy to try to be a nurse. People have a stigma about epilepsy, and it effects all of us that have it. I wonder if anyone has any advice or similar experiences. Thank you so much!
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  3. 16 Comments so far...

  4. 0
    I am sure you will be fine going back to school. But what kinda stigma???
  5. 1
    There absolutely is a stigma! You're a threat to everyone around you (in their eyes,) and cannot be trusted to stay conscious. Just stay on top of your meds, avoid having another seizure, and eventually they'll forget. Maybe it was exciting for some of them to see... I mean, in theory these are fellow nursing students, people who want to help others with variations in health, hopefully they'll be just as professional in this role as they will be with a patient. Keep your head up, best of luck to you. Also, as a cautionary tale, I learned the hard way not to work night shift; the sleep disturbance threw my seizures out of control.
    KelRN215 likes this.
  6. 3
    There can indeed be a stigma. The trick is to hold your head high and not to act embarrassed or as though you did anything wrong, because you didn't. Not at all.

    I have had seizures since I was 13 months old and a congenital aneurysm ruptured in my temporal lobe. I have simple and partial complex seizures and it's appalling how many otherwise intelligent and educated people refuse to believe you can have a seizure and not lose consciousness. I can carry on a conversation without missing a beat.

    Some suggestions for school and work:

    Be sure your instructors and/or bosses know you will be taking meds at designated hours and what those meds are. Some busybody will report you for taking illicit drugs sooner or later.

    Always assume you will be held up and keep an extra dose of whatever you take in your locker.

    Always get plenty of sleep and go to bed at a decent hour. It does NOT matter that all your friends can pull allnighters. You can't!

    Don't drink alcohol. Alcohol is a sure seizure trigger.

    You may not be able to work night shift.

    You will not do well rotating 2nd and 3rd shifts. I got a note from my neuro saying I could never rotate shifts and why.

    I worked 7pm - 7am three days a week and did fine by adding some extra Neurontin on those days.

    If it's thunderstorming or even just very humid, you may need extra meds.

    If it's a bad allergy season, you may need to adjust your dose.

    The week before and of your period, you're more seizure-prone and may need to adjust your meds or simply when you take them.

    If you're getting a bug, a cold, have a temp, etc. you're automatically more seizure-prone. Deal with it.

    Don't act defensive with others. If you feel you must say something, just say very matter-of-factly that you have seizures, as though it were any other illness. I've never made any attempt to hide my epilepsy. It's as much who I am as my hazel eyes and saddlebags.
  7. 4
    I agree there is a stigma. Many people don't know much about epilepsy and may believe that most people with epilepsy are cognitively impaired. People with underlying brain anomalies that also cause developmental problems (for example microcephaly, polymicrogyria, lissencephaly, anoxic brain injuries, HIE) are more prone to seizures but epilepsy itself doesn't cause these developmental problems.

    I had "fainting spells" off and on since I was in first grade, began having what I called "deja vu" episodes in middle school and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy secondary to a large brain tumor my senior year of high school. My freshman year of college (nursing school) I was having daily complex partial seizures and twice was taken to the ER after having a generalized tonic clonic seizure- once in the middle of chemistry lab. If any of my fellow students had opinions on the matter, they kept them to themselves.

    I have now been seizure free for almost 10 years (actually 9 years and 11 months today) and am on no medications. I was fortunate to be part of a minority of people with epilepsy who know the cause of their seizures. I had brain surgery in May of 2003 and once my tumor was gone, so were my seizures. I've been off meds since November of that same year and have never had a recurrence of seizure activity.

    In your case, you know what triggered this seizure. Take care of yourself, get enough sleep and do NOT skip your meds.
    Madras, sharpeimom, SoldierNurse22, and 1 other like this.
  8. 0
    I have absence seizures and was diagnosed at 3yrs old. Yes there is a stigma....everyone assumes you have grand mals. It took me a couple of months before I felt comfortable telling people in my workplace I was an epileptic, I wanted them to know me for me and I only told those I really trusted.

    Know what your triggers are and avoid them as much as possible. Stress and heat are mine but being in ED I don't find it stressful at all and on hot days I keep a frozen tea towel in the freezer and wrap it around my neck
  9. 0
    Thank you everyone so much I did go back to school and am trying to hold my head up high, I just feel like my teacher is looking down on me because she knows of what I have. I don't know it could be in my head but I just feel like she expects failure from me because she knows I have this disability. I have been doing very well, taking my meds and getting proper sleep. My problem I guess is that I can be very shy and timid I guess b/c of everything I have gone through I am not sure why I am this way but I guess it can make me look like I don't know anything even if I do. I guess what I am trying to ask is how does someone become more assertive and confident when they are just learning something? I thought confidence would come with time but my teacher expects me to have confidence right away. How can I have confidence in something I am doing only once a week at clinical? That is where my difficulty is, otherwise my grades are good. Thank you so much
  10. 2
    Quote from mitsybitsy
    Hello,

    I have had Epilepsy all my life, since I was 8 yrs old, and my seizures are actually very controlled, after having brain surgery. I am currently in Nursing School, this is something I have always wanted to do. I recently had a bad seizure in school while doing clinical, I was so embarrassed I had skipped my meds a couple days, I know stupid. I feel so embarrassed going back to class, I feel like everyone is going to think differently about me and think I am crazy to try to be a nurse. People have a stigma about epilepsy, and it effects all of us that have it. I wonder if anyone has any advice or similar experiences. Thank you so much!
    I also have epilepsy. You need to take care of yourself. I've never had an issue at school or work. I always know before I have a seizure. Keep your head up! I would never disclose this to my patients but I do with coworkers and in the end helps my patients with seizure disorders.You are a good source of knowledge and you can educate those around you.please don't give up. I have meant many other nurses with epilepsy. I became a nurse because of the care I received by a nurse with epilepsy. It would have been a shame if she gave up on nursing.
    sharpeimom and SoldierNurse22 like this.
  11. 0
    Keep going with school & don't let anything stop you! I have had epilepsy since I was a freshman in high school, I don't know what caused it. I am an LVN & even had a seizure at work once. I was working PRN & flipping between days/eves/nights. I was working a night shift at the time, sleep deprived & very tired. I drank a lot of coffee & 5 hour energy shots. I put my head down to take a nap & the next thing I knew I was out. I woke up in the back of an ambulance & didn't know who or were I was.

    Don't be embarrassed but always tell your employer. I have & I tell them I can't work nights. And know you're not alone.
  12. 0
    Amazingly perfect timing to find this thread at the top of the list. I was diagnosed with left temporal lobe seizures on Monday, am a semester and a half from graduation, and I'm nervous to consider what this means. This time last year, I got a diagnosis of spondylolisthesis and the head of the department really made sure I didn't lose my seat in the program. Now this. I'm not sure what to do. I'm not sure what changes will be next. You're not alone, OP.


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