Category: Uncategorized Comments: 5 comments

I have written several articles about how we need to get the word out so that people better understand epilepsy and seizures. I am not sure it is the police and professionals’ fault that they do not recognize what is happening when they see someone having a seizure. If they have never seen a seizure, how can they be expected to recognize one when it happens. We have a duty to work hard to get them the information and tools that they need. Having said that, I keep reading news stories that boggle my mind.

Incredibly, in Poland last month, a teacher actually strangled a child who was having a seizure (1). Kuba, just 12-years-old, was having an episode when his teacher, Jadwiga Piotrowska, decided that her best course of action in such a situation was to strangle the boy. As the class “cried and begged her to let him go” (ibid), the teacher continued to strangle Kuba. She did not let him go until the Head Teacher came into the room and forced her to do so. The incident was caught on film (ibid).

In Trinidad, just a few weeks ago, a man with epilepsy was the main witness in a murder trial. His testimony was discredited because he was “on medication for his epilepsy” and “therefore having side effects such as hallucinations and psychosis (2).” Although the article does not report that the person had ever actually experienced these side effects, the fact that he/she was taking a medication where these side effects were possible made the testimony questionable. The lawyer goes as far as to ask the police officer who took the original statement, “you would not want to take a statement from a person who suffers with these side effects (ibid)?”

During a television broadcast in New Zealand, “Lorde” was performing. Commenting on her unusual performance, the former National MP Tau Henare tweeted, “Just wondering if #Lorde has epilepsy (3).” A national political figure? Making jokes at the expense of the epileptic community? Even when he was called out on it, he refused to apologize saying only, “Live a little, excuse the pun. (ibid.)”

Have a seizure in Poland and you might get strangled. Have epilepsy in Trinidad and you are labeled as “suffering from hallucinations and psychosis.”

I am trying very hard to get people to understand that we want to live normal and productive lives. It is frustrating when I am constantly surrounded by news that the world sees us as people who need to be treated differently.

Ms. Piotrowska needs a lesson in teaching. I cannot think of any situation where strangling a student is the right course of action. And as for the lawyer in Trinidad? I have never been a fan of lawyers anyway. Deciding that people with epilepsy cannot be trusted in a court of law only proves I was right about them in the first place. I don’t even know what to say about MP Tau Henare. Clearly he thinks that those living with epilepsy are unworthy of even common courtesy.

There is no question this is an uphill battle. But then you are always looking up when you are falling down.

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  • Tadzio Antinous  says:

    Are you still following the Armando Arias Gonzalez Jr. case? The trial is set to start March 30, 2015.

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      following – next blog about the decision…thanks!

  • Ionut  says:

    My son is a diabetic. He is denetifily not disabled. Your friend has to learn how to control his diabetes. It is really challenging, but very do-able. Perhaps he can check with his doctor about switching to an insulin pump. They still require management, but instead of a shot, you dial up the required insulin and the pump dispenses it. My son is 21 years old. He goes to college full time and works halftime. He goes on extended hiking trips requiring him to carry a full pack for weeks on end. He has worked as a camp counselor of BSA and currently works in a facility that cares for high risk youth. He has driven across the country several times for his jobs and vacations. However seizures are incredibly dangerous if someone has one while driving and your friend is right to not drive until his diabetes is well under control. If someone does not control their diabetes then as they age, they may develop problems that could make them truly disabled. You can develop nerve problems, and eye problems. Having diabetes is not a disability. Your friend can do anything he wants He is protected from discrimination due to his diabetes in schooling and jobs. The only restriction that I know of is that he can’t serve in the military or fly a plane.

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      thank you for your very in-depth and thoughtful reply

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      thank you for your very in-depth and thoughtful reply

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