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Recognizing epilepsy's symptoms

By By Sharon White/The Meridian Star
Nov. 29, 2000
When Billy Franklin's mother noticed her 6-year-old was daydreaming "a little too much," she called the family's pediatrician and made an appointment.
At the time, the Franklins where living in Oak Grove, Ill., and were scheduled to return to the doctor's office for test results the following day.
That was when Franklin learned her son had epilepsy. Had he not been in the grocery store buggy, he might have fallen and hurt himself. As it turned out, he had bitten his tongue but recovered from the injury within a week.
Today, at age 10, Billy is under the care of a neurologist. Occasionally his seizures reoccur, causing his face to twitch and his eyelids to flutter. But because his mother knows what to expect, the experience is no longer horrifying.
Epilepsy is an abnormal synchronized electrical discharge in the brain. It sometimes occurs for no known reason, but it may be triggered by infections, fever, metabolic defects, strokes, toxic substances, brain trauma or tumors.
As with Billy, some children between the ages of 6 and 12 experience what are known as "petit mal" seizures. Other symptoms include a sudden lapse of consciousness or day-dreaming appearance lasting only seconds or minutes. The children usually resume the activity they were doing prior to the seizure. Afterward, they don't remember the incident.
Since Franklin's husband died two years ago in a traffic accident, she said she worries even more about what the future holds for her son.
Dr. Shawn Anderson, emergency physician at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, said she is doing all that can be done.
Anderson said Billy is one of only a few who face such medical problems.
To find out more about the hidden signs of epilepsy, contact the Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi at (601) 362-2761 or (800) 898-0291.
Sharon White is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at swhite@meridianstar.com

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