I have epilepsy. I have “Complex Partial Seizures” also known as focal impaired awareness seizures. Basically, what that means is when I have a seizure, there is a moment in time, usually between 45 seconds to 2 minutes, where I am sort of dazed and confused. About 99% of the time, I can continue a conversation, continue a task (provided it’s not dangerous, ie. driving), and no one is the wiser. A lot of my friends aren’t even aware I have epilepsy unless I tell them. Occasionally, I mumble. My “go to” phrases are “I need to swallow,” “I’ll be okay,” and “Just give me a second.” We’ve never figured out why I say I need to swallow because I don’t choke or anything like that.
In any case, my seizures are somewhat controlled, having a few a month, but are hugely inconvenient.
As I’ve mentioned before, I work as a dairy clerk in a grocery store. My dairy team is familiar with my seizures and know they are really no big deal. Just give me a few minutes to recover and I’ll be good.
Well, on Saturday, as I was leaving work, I was picking up a few things before I left. I was headed toward the cereal aisle when I felt a seizure coming on. But I kept moving, staying on task. I only needed to pick up some Cheerios and then head for home. The last thing I remember was leaning down to get the Cheerios. In the next moment, there are several people (customers) gathered around me asking me if I’m okay. I must have sat down on the ground or something, I’m not really sure. I don’t remember being on the ground. I told them I was fine (probably a little too harshly) and started to head for the check out when the produce manager (a really nice guy who doesn’t know about my epilepsy) appeared to see if I was okay. I told him I was fine. He said that a woman told him that someone was on the ground in the aisle, and he was surprised it was me and wanted to see what happened. I finally told him that I had epilepsy and had had a seizure but that I was fine. I don’t think he believed I was fine, but I tried my best to assure him.
So now my secret is out. Ugh!
I texted my dairy manager to tell him what happened and to see if he could do some damage control for me with the produce manager. He said he would.
I go back to work tomorrow, and I’m a little apprehensive. Epilepsy is a weird thing. You never know how people are going to react. Some people don’t think its any big deal, while others will freak out about it, probably because they’ve either seen horror stories on TV, or have never had any experience with the disorder before and don’t quite know what to think.
I work in a close-knit group which can be a good thing, but people who live in small towns will tell you, can also be a nightmare. Now EVERYONE probably knows my business. Which also means, here comes the need for reassurance and explanation and the “looks.”
Mostly, I’m embarrassed. It’s not that I’m ashamed of having the disorder, I just don’t want that to be the first thing people think about when they see me.
Wish me luck. Maybe I’ll actually get a better schedule because of it! LOL