Posts Tagged aura
Epilepsy discrimination is illegal, but it’s important to know your rights.
Dealing with the auras in her job as a lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office was difficult but doable. Every so often Labby would experience a heightened sense of smell, the inability to swallow, and an overwhelming sense of déjà vu.
But after the grand mal seizure, Labby’s life changed. Because she could no longerdrive herself to work, Labby’s boss approved a transfer to a branch office in Erie, Penn., near Labby’s family. She telecommuted from home, and when necessary a family member drove her to the office. After epilepsy surgery, which ended the seizures but affected some of her short-term memory, she was reassigned to a job where she could write legal briefs but no longer deliver oral arguments, which are now beyond her capabilities.Labby received all these concessions because they are guaranteed to her by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She also got them because she knew the law and demanded that her employer follow it to the letter, which is something she suggests all people with epilepsy must do. “You have to learn to put your feet in the ground and protect yourself,” Labby says.
How the ADA Works
The ADA outlaws employers from discriminating against a qualified individual on the basis of disability. In other words, you cannot be denied a job or fired from one because you have epilepsy. In addition, an employer of more than 15 people is required to “make reasonable accommodation for a known disability unless to do so would impose an undue burden on the employer,” according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Exact accommodations required are unique to each person with epilepsy, but some examples from the Epilepsy Foundation include:
- A person experiencing memory problems can ask that assignments be given in writing instead of orally.
- Someone at risk of breakthrough seizures may need flexible hours or a short break at work if a seizure occurs.
“Employers need to understand that epilepsy is a disease deserving of an accommodation,” Labby says. “I was vocal about what I was capable of doing and what I was not capable of doing. My employer, at times, needed to be reminded of it, but did prove to be understanding.”
Discrimination Despite the ADA
Despite the number of people with epilepsy — 3 million Americans are affected — Labby’s case is too often the exception rather than the rule, say epilepsy experts. Employment discrimination against people with epilepsy is so rampant that neurologist Eduardo Locatelli, MD, advises his patients to keep their status secret unless disclosure is absolutely necessary.
“The issue of stigma is still very big,” says Dr. Locatelli, medical director of the Florida Neurosciene Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “So what I say is, don’t announce that you have epilepsy. But from a safety perspective, if you’ve got a friend at work or you have a good relationship with your manager explain that if there is a seizure this is what you do.
”Should You Tell?
The ADA protects you if you want to keep your epilepsy a secret. But Labby found that by telling her co-workers, she was able to dispel many of the myths surrounding epilepsy.
“When you have epilepsy, people are very inquisitive about it,” Labby says. “It’s a disease that they just don’t understand. You feel like, on some level, you need to defend it.”
But by defending it, you are also proving that disability is not synonymous with inability. And that can help not just you but those with epilepsy who come after you as well.
Seizures can take on many different forms, and seizures affect different people in different ways. Anything that the brain does normally can also occur during a seizure when the brain is activated by seizure discharges. Some people call this activity “electrical storms” in the brain.Seizures have a beginning, middle, and end. Not all parts of a seizure may be visible or easy to separate from each other. Every person with seizures will not have every stage or symptom described below. The symptoms during a seizure usually are stereotypic (occur the same way or similar each time), episodic (come and go) and may be unpredictable.
Some people are aware of the beginning of a seizure, possibly as much as hours or days before it happens. On the other hand, some people may not be aware of the beginning and therefore have no warning.
Some people may experience feelings, sensations or changes in behavior hours or days before a seizure. These feelings are generally not part of the seizure, but may warn a person that a seizure may come. Not everyone has these signs, but if they do, the signs can help a person change their activity, make sure to take their medication, use a rescue treatment and take steps to prevent injury.
Types of Seizures
Expert: Robert S. Fisher, M.D. Professor of Neurology Stanford University »
Seizures is a medical condition that is divided into two types. Watch our video to learn in detail about the different types of seizures and how to manage them.
The word “seizure” is used to describe the medical condition in which too many brain cells become excited simultaneously, but there are actually so many that neurologists are still updating how to classify them. Usually, they classify seizures into two main types, partial seizures and primary generalized seizures.
The difference between these types is in how they begin: Partial seizures, which begin in a single part of the brain, are further described by two additional criteria.
- The first is whether awareness, memory, and consciousness are preserved during the seizure. If they all are preserved, then a seizure is called “simple partial.”
- However, if any are impaired then the seizure is called “complex partial.”
The impact of a partial seizure depends on where in the brain it originates, and how it spreads. Partial seizures sometimes have an aura, which is a warning that bigger seizures may follow. An aura usually occurs seconds to minutes before seizure, but some patients can have periods of warning lasting a day or longer. Technically, the aura is itself a small simple partial seizure. There are many different ways in which people experience an aura. The start of a seizure in one of the temporal lobes can produce unusual feelings, like abnormal sensation or forced thinking. The onset of a complex partial seizure may be heralded by deja vu, a familiar feeling, or jamai vu, an unfamiliar feeling. Some patients have auras of sounds, tastes, distorted vision, racing thoughts, or smells, like burning rubber. Physical sensations occurring as auras are dizziness, headache, lightheadedness, and numbness. An upset stomach is a particularly common phsycial symptom. Auras can include a sense of tingling rising up the body or other strange feelings difficult to describe. Distorted emotions, like fear or panic, can also be a seizure warning. However, some complex partial seizures occur without any remembered warning. Primarily generalized seizures begin with a widespread electrical discharge that involves both sides of the brain at once. Partial seizures begin with an electrical discharge in one limited area of the brain. All generalized seizures begin with synchronous electrical activity throughout the brain accompanied by sudden generalized movements or loss of consciousness.
However, there are still many different types of generalized seizure. A tonic-clonic seizure, once called a “grand mal,” is what most people think of when they hear the word “seizure.” When someone experiences a tonic-clonic seizure, first they stiffen and lose consciousness, which is the “tonic” phase. Then, they begin jerking, which lasts for several minutes and is called the “clonic” phase.
Sometimes seizures don’t have a tonic stiffening and clonic jerking sequence, but are just tonic seizures or clonic seizures.
- Other types of generalized seizure include absence seizures, when the sufferer “disconnects” from the world for a few seconds,
- myoclonic seizures, which cause jerking, but just for a second or two,
- and atonic seizures, which cause people to lose all muscle tone and drop to the ground.
Understanding the different types of seizures can be helpful, but many people want more detailed information. The next two videos in this series provide an in-depth look at the effect of partial seizures on different parts of the brain and the different types of generalized seizures. “The movies in this series can be viewed in any order. If you wish to watch these clips in their original sequence, the next clip is, “Understanding the Different Types of Partial Seizures.”