Will Epilepsy Always be in My Life?

There are over 170,000 individuals that are annually diagnosed with epilepsy.  Out of this number, imagine the amount of families who ask themselves if epilepsy will always be a constant struggle in their lives.  This isn’t the case for everyone.

Successful treatment for epilepsy has been appropriate medications, antiepileptics, and even surgery.  An encouraging 80% of epileptics, treated with medications, have been known to go without having seizures for at least 2 years – some go without having seizures again.

Every person is different and will progress at their own rate. It has been found that if your cause of epilepsy was something other than brain injury or abnormalities, your chances of becoming seizure-free are best.  I have researched some statistics in regard to epilepsy recovery/progress:

  • Adult medication results
    • 50-60% of adults will be seizure-free after using their first seizure medicine.
    • 11-20% of adults will gain seizure control using their second medication.
    • 20-30% of adults have still suffered with seizures after both medications.
  • Children/teen medication results
    • 20% start on medication and never have another seizure after medication is stopped (this including when they reach adulthood)
    • 50-60% of children become seizure-free with the first medication use
    • 30% never stop taking seizure medications
    • 10% have a difficult time dealing with intractable seizure.

Over 50% of children have been known to outgrow their epilepsy. The longer duration one goes without having a seizure – the larger chance they will remain seizure-free.  (Schachter, M.D, 2006, Will I always Have Epilepsy)

If you are curious if seizure medication is needed to remain seizure-free – that isn’t always the case.  If years have passed and an individual has gone seizure-free, they may want to try getting off the medications. This is something that is always decided upon by the neurologist/doctor and when he/she feels is best for the patient.  When there is driving involved or any activity that could physically danger the patient and/or others around, one must be a lot more cautious when dropping a particular medication.

As I’ve mentioned above, every person is different and every body heals/works at its own rate. As long as you are working with your doctor and keeping the faith, anything is possible. If there’s anything I’ve been taught during my time here at the Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center, it’s strength.  Even when the road seems foggy ahead and your struggle is bringing you down, there is always hope -miracles do happen, or at least I think so.  I read an article once about a mother whose child had 150-200 seizures a day, devastating. Now, he is completely seizure free and graduating high school.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office at (888)322-8209 or the Epilepsy Foundation (Dorchester, MA) at (617)506-6041. We have resource guides and helping hands for your support.

Till next time…

Christina Macia

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center

Do Good… Donate

Published in: on July 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Is Epilepsy and What Causes It?

 According to Medical News Today (2004), epilepsy is a word of Greek Origin, existing from the word “epi” meaning “upon, at, close upon.” “Epilepsy is a general term for the tendency to have seizures” (WebMD, 2008, Epilepsy Guide). A seizure occurs when electrical impulses within the brain exceed their standard limits, sometimes causing convulsions or unawareness within the body. Seizures are common for disorders other than epilepsy. I once read that you can compare the brain’s functioning, while having a seizure, to being “mixed up.” The unusual electrical impulses cause provisional commotion in the brains messaging system during these sessions of seizure, thus causing the halt-like effect on the brain. In most cases, an epilepsy diagnosis would follow a minimum of two seizures. 

These seizures caused by electrical impulses are due to the overload or lack of neurotransmitters and their balance in nerve signals. For all of you who may be in the dark on what a neurotransmitter is, well, it is pretty much the Hermes of Greek mythology. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that stabilize our bodies daily; they stabilize everything from our moods to our sleep.

Our brains work similar to a functioning office; let me explain. Neurons (brain cells) communicate with one another through neurotransmitters. There is a process between each neuron, but I will keep it simple for you: The first neuron sends out an email message (neurotransmitter) for his other neuron peers to read. Once the email is sent (stimulated) it is multiplied (signal now active) and moved into a pending area (synaptic space) to be viewed. Eventually this email (neurotransmitter) makes its way to every peer (neuron) where the email is then left in the inbox (receptor). After it quickly makes its way through the office (brain) the overall email message (neurotransmitter signal) is implemented.

And that is my cognitive explanation; I hope I didn’t confuse you. I do need you to understand that this “messaging” process happens in milliseconds within the brain. Once that neurotransmitter is released and stimulated, its molecules are picked up instantaneously from the other neurons.

Now, if we could get our own offices to work this efficiently. Ha, kidding Boss.

The level in which these neurotransmitters are sending signals can be the cause of an epileptic seizure. “Researchers believe that some people with epilepsy have an abnormally high level of excitatory neurotransmitters that decrease neuronal activity, while others have an abnormally low level of inhibitory neurotransmitters that decrease neuronal activity in the brain. Either situation can result in too much neuronal activity and cause epilepsy” (National Institution of neurological Disorders and Stroke, FBHC.org, second paragraph).

Epilepsy is a disorder that has a large number of causes — “it is sometimes very difficult to determine the cause of a particular case” (eHealthMD, 1990, second paragraph). Below is a listing of causes:

  • Brain Chemistry
    • Epilepsy may develop because of an imbalance in neurotransmitters within the brain (what I explained earlier).
  • Hereditary
    • Some cases of epilepsy run in the family, meaning there are genetic abnormalities that can cause slight changes in the way the body processes neurotransmitters (body chemicals).
  • Head Injury
    • This form of epilepsy can take up to years to develop, in severe cases.
  • Prenatal Injuries
    • If a fetus is exposed to drug abuse, smoking or unhealthy eating habits, the conditions could cause cerebral palsy, a disorder that includes seizures.
  • Environmental Causes
    • Environmental and occupational exposure to lead, carbon monoxide and certain chemicals.
    • Use of street drugs and alcohol.
    • Lack of sleep, stress or hormonal changes.
    • Withdrawal from certain antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Other Disorders
    • Epilepsy can sometimes be cured by stopping underlying disorders, such as:
      • Brain tumors, alcoholism and Alzheimer’s disease. These disorders all affect the normal workings of the brain.
      • Stroke, heart attacks and all other conditions that cut off the supply of blood to the brain. If the brain is lacking oxygen, epilepsy can result.
      • Cerebral palsy, autism and a number of other developmental and metabolic disorders can cause epilepsy.

 

(eHealthMD.(1990).6/29/2010, www.ehealthmd.com/library/epilepsy/epi_causes.html)

I’ve recently learned that approximately 2.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with epilepsy, with 181,000 diagnosed annually.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from epilepsy, please feel free to respond to my blog for more information or contact our office at (888) 322-8209 for information on how we can help.

Till next time…

Christina Macia

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center

Do Good… Donate

Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Couch Kitty

Couch Kitty is based on true events. Please be informed that animals do not naturally speak English and that the words below were made to help support the story. Some facts have been altered, but again, the concept of the story is true.                                                               

“Couch Kitty”

Little Sammy sat at an all-time high of 5 inches tall and 6 inches long. Her fur was the color of caramel aside from the diamond shape between her eyes, colored white. Sammy was the last left from her 9-count litter.

Mama liked spending her days sleeping in the office chair; I think it made her feel like she was doing work, when in retrospect she was just sleeping and leaving her fur behind for Mr. and Mrs. Milton. Seeing how Mama was usually unconscious, I would wander around and explore whatever dark areas I could get myself into.   

While watching Mama sleep in her usual chair, I began admiring the 5 claws that lay on the distal end of my right leg. My claws were so cool, I felt like one of those lions Mrs. Milton would watch on the television.

In the midst of Sammy’s fantasy to one day grow as big and beautiful as a lion, she leaned too far to her left and flipped right of the couch arm.

Rrreeeoooew. Wow, it’s true what they say about us wild cats always landing on our legs! I wasn’t even trying, yet here I stand on all fours. Oh yeah, I’m the coolest kitten, I even sing! Meow-meow-meow-meow meow-meow-meow-meow, meow-meow-meow-meow-meow-meow

Well before Sammy could crawl back on her throne, she spotted an opening in the couch.

Ooo, I could surely hide out back here till Mama wakes! This is the best hiding spot ever!

What Sammy hadn’t known about her prestige hiding spot was the exit, or should I say lack thereof.  Entering the opening was a lot less difficult than trying to exit.  Being as small as Sammy was, there was no way she could jump out the way she jumped in. An extra step was needed. Not realizing what trouble Sammy was in, she continued on with her game.

What the reeeear is that thing?! Mee-ow-ow-ow, it’s funny-looking and has so many legs!

Still keeping quiet, Sammy begins to torture the poor spider. I think Mr. Spider has come to the realization that his flawless home, the one he bragged to all his eight-legged friends about, is soon going to be the reason for his disappearance. Sammy was just about playing croquet with Mr. Spider at this point.

Hours have passed, still Sammy sits in her crevice for Mama to wake, find her and congratulate her on her great hiding spot. Unfortunately, Sammy hadn’t known that the couch she still lay hiding in was being placed on the Milton’s curbside in the morning for the Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center to pick up.

Living in the beautiful city of Lowell, MA, the Milton family was used to a high volume of traffic along with a steady flow of sirens. Sammy’s cries were but a mere echo in relation to the city that swallowed them.

I’ve been in here for what feels like longer than I’ve been born! Meow!! Me-ow!

 Maaammaaa, get up and find me already! I’m getting shuffled around in here like a pair a dice on a craps table.

As told, Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center showed up at the Milton residence early on Feb. 6th. The couch was taken to the local Savers and placed on the store floor for resale, priced at a whopping $27.00.

Oy vey. I’m hungry and stuck. I feel entrapped. I suppose I’ll just sit here and snack on the remaining bugs left in Mr. Spider’s web.

Days passed and Ms. Sammy still sat in the couch, hiding and so far from home.

After weeks of waiting to be found, the infamous couch was bought and brought to its new home. Sammy was very weak and trying to meow as loud as she could. She just wanted out and for anyone to find her.

While the new owner sat on his couch he spotted a mysterious sound. He turned his television down and continued to listen; what he heard was something he hadn’t been expecting.

Holy mackerel mayo! Did someone hear me?! Finally! Is it true!?

Meow?

What the hunk-a-chunk? Is that a cat? the new owner asks himself in awe.

Yes, the owner suspected correctly. Before Sammy knew it the entire couch was being demolished for her rescue. Hungry and scared, Sammy clawed the owner’s shirt. She was fed and brought to the animal shelter for proper care, this being where the owner happened to work.

The Savers store was later contacted in search of Sammy’s owner amongst other media sources. Sure enough, the original owner of the couch heard about the found kitty through a friend who had seen the story on the news.

The Miltons were all reunited that same day and thankful for the return of their Sammy along with the kind family who cared enough to help their lost love.

As for the owners with the now destroyed couch, well, someone saw the story on the news and was kind enough to donate to them a new couch.

Momma, I think I grew out of hide-and-seek, do you think there’s room for another on that office chair of yours?

The End.

Till next time…

Christina Macia

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center

Do Good… Donate

Published in: on June 23, 2010 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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Published in: on June 21, 2010 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Weather Fun Without Sun

Eyes squinted and stomach hungry, I begin my week’s blog. The weather here in New England is about as consistent as its seasons. In the past week it has been exceptionally hot, rainy, cold and humid. Is it so much to ask for a month where every day is a beautiful breezy 80 degrees? I don’t think so. What’s that wonderful saying… oh yes, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a few minutes.” Boy, was that Mark Twain right when he pondered up those words. I shall continue this entry and hopefully by the time I reach the conclusion I will have a little less sun in my eyes and a 1.5 lb. cheeseburger in my hand. If only there were an In-N-Out around these secluded Pelham, NH, parts that delivered. Now there’s an idea for any of you ambitious NH readers.

Anywho…

This past Saturday, June 12th, brought a grand event for the Taunton, MA, Epilepsy Clothing Donation drop-off site (POD). The clothing donation POD is located at 306 Winthrop St. within the Winthrop Park Place Plaza. Not only did we hire a great dancer for the event, who stood at an all time high of 22’ and coordinated movements similar to a monstrous-size Gumby, but there was also a sign spinner who took pride in her ability to scream at full capacity and dance in excitement to the volume of traffic. Aside from these two class acts we had some giving hands from our community to help thank our donors who stopped by. Dunkin’ Donuts donated both coffee and morning treats for our early birds, while Papa Gino’s and Kyrdino’s assisted in feeding our not-so-early birds.

To spruce things up a bit, Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center threw a raffle into the mix. Every person who donated clothing had the option to enter to win a lovely basket housing lotions, oils, candles and an exfoliate (compliments of Athena Goddess), a large cheese pizza from Papa Gino’s or a $10 gift card to CVS. This gives enough reason to pack up the entire house, if you ask me, than again I am that girl who is happy watching new wipers glide oh-so gracefully across the windshield glass. Ah, the simple things in life. Oh, so the drawings for this raffle will be pulled later today, Wednesday, June 16th. Good luck Taunton, MA, donors!

Just as the donation site was picking up and lunch was delivered, Ms. Mother Nature brought on her daily tears. The rain came, our materials became soggy and my hair, well, it looked as though my finger just released itself from an electrical socket. Even with the upsetting downfall of my frizzy hair, the donation site attendants, director, president and myself worked as a team to bring the day out of the rain and into the dry, not-so-sunny POD. The day ended up being quite enjoyable with the stories from donors who were so kind as to contribute by telling us how epilepsy had changed their lives. It’s personal stories like the mom who suffered from epilepsy for 10 years, then one day the neuralgic disease took a turn and she tells you it’s been over 5 years since her last seizure, or the 9-year-old who would space out in class, later finding out she suffered from absence seizures and has now been stabilized through proper medicine, graduating with high honors. There are so many wonderful stories that give our foundation new drive, and that makes everything worthwhile.

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center is trying to make life easier for the families who live with epilepsy . If you see our trucks pass or our green card in the mail, please do not hesitate to call. We have donation drop-off centers in both Wilmington and Taunton, MA, for your convenience. To schedule a pickup, please call (888) 322-8209. By you making that one phone call to schedule a pickup, not only have you taken the first step to help a family in need, but you have also given an extra step to someone who could have been without.

Please note: Our services are available during rain or shine.

Till next time…

Christina Macia

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center

Do Good… Donate

Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Red Shoes

I’d like to begin this venture into the land of blogging with a little story, bear with me.

“The Red Shoes.”

 

Brand new they sat perched on their 2’x2’ glass display case, slender, tall and open toe. Their colors of crimson reflected upon the paneled ceiling and celadon walls, for their radiance was like no other in stock. The season had just begun, yet only one pair of this elegant red shoe remains.

Standing at an average 5’4”, Laverne squeezes her foot into the obviously unfit shoe, “Look! This pair was meant for me!” brags Laverne.

“It seems your toes are turning purple, perhaps you should turn it down a decade” Bertha suggests.

“Why must you act so old, Bertha? Ya know, Rose always said, ‘The older you get, the better you get, unless you’re a banana.’ I shall purchase these shoes!” Laverne shouts with excitement.

“Ah. Ok.” Bertha sighs, “I’ll be in aisle 3 grabbing sugar and flour.”

As Sara rummages through her closet in a desperate attempt to find something for next Friday night’s dance, she is left with nothing but a disastrous room and an unsuccessful clothing agenda. She begs her mother to take her to the mall, but due to their current financial bind a brand new outfit was out of the picture. Sara was upset, but her mother promised they would figure it out.

 5 Days Later

“Holy honk, what happened?!” shouts Bertha.

“You know what the worst aspect of growing old is?” Laverne asks.

“The lack of skin elasticity in my face or perhaps the Depends?” Bertha suggests.

“Uh, no. Buying new shoes and not being able to dance in them!” Laverne explains.

“Well Laverne, if you bought shoes that were a bit lower than 4 inches, you’d probably be all set.”

“Don’t get me started, Big B, just please throw the shoes out before I’m released from this smelly hospital.”

Secluded within a tight dark box, the fear starts to set in. Having the potential to walk the halls of LACMA, they are left with the life of a lousy broken flip-flop. In the midst of their life’s acceptance, to be thrown in the trash, an abrupt stop occurs.

“Do Good, Donate – Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center,” reads a flyer taped to the condo dumpster. Bertha thinks to herself, “Hmm, what’s this all about? What’s a Savers?” as she continues to read…

 “Savers is no ordinary thrift store. As a leader and pioneer in the retail thrift industry, we’re a place where people from all backgrounds love to shop for great selection, deals and treasures. But there’s also a higher purpose for what we do. Partnering with local charities is not a byproduct of our business—it’s how we do business. So when you shop at Savers, you help support many local community programs.

Our nonprofit partners (Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center) contact people in the community like you to ask for donations of reusable clothing and household items.

We then pay our nonprofit partners (Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center) based on the number of boxes and bags of merchandise they deliver to us. Additionally, we also pay them for donations our customers deliver directly to our Savers stores via our Community Donation Centers.

From there, our staff sorts through the donations to select the highest quality reusable items then prices and displays them.”

“I should donate these shoes! Not only would I be contributing to charities such as the Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center, but I could also give this pair of shoes a new useful home along with a tax deduction receipt for myself! Savers, here I come!”

“Yes, I would like to donate these shoes,” says Bertha.

 “Absolutely, you’ve come to the right place,” the Savers clerk smiles. “Do you have a particular charity in mind or would you like me to tell you a bit about the nonprofits we support?”

Bertha begins to explain how she would like the red shoes to go toward the Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center.

The Mission of The Epilepsy Foundation Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine is to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences and to work toward prevention, control and a cure for epilepsy through advocacy, education, research and support services.

Sitting there on the store’s oak shelf, a tall, slender pair of crimson open toe shoes. Still radiant as ever, they are proud and ready for their new home. While holding tags, a young excited smile appeared before them.

“Mom! I think I found the pair I’d like to wear to my dance!” Affordably priced and in great shape, Sara’s shoes would escort her to her Friday night dance.

“I told you we’d figure it out, Hunny. Now let’s go buy you some Ace bandages.”

“Huh? Why?” Sara asks.

“So you don’t break your ankles,” Mom informs.

“Mom, please” Sara begs.

“OK, OK, but you’re getting a long dress,” Mom smirks.

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center encourages you to do good, donate. By donating you aren’t just diverting discarded clothing from landfills, but also contributing to charities that need participation. To think that the bag of clothing you donated assisted in a program that did nothing but place smiles on the faces of children or families who otherwise struggle daily, is a pretty rewarding feeling, isn’t it?

Till next time… 

Christina Macia

Epilepsy Foundation New England Donation Center

Do Good… Donate

Published in: on June 9, 2010 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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