My First Seizure in a Classroom
And the reason my action plan is now super specific!
Having been diagnosed before going to Teacher’s College, I have had to deal with epilepsy as a teacher my entire career. Consequently, I have always had to deal with the fear and anxiety of having a seizure in front of a class of children.
I did everything I could to prepare my school and my students for the possibility of me having a seizure (check out “how to tell your colleagues” and “how to tell your kids”), but was adamant to use the phrase “it probably won’t happen, but…” (a phrase I try my hardest to avoid now!).
But despite my best efforts, my fear was realised on one of my first placements while still training to be a teacher.
The Warning Signs
Before the student went out to lunch, I had a partial seizure while talking to my associate teacher (the teacher in whose class I was placed). She noticed, recognised what was happening, and asked the students to take themselves outside. When I came out of the seizure, I had a headache and felt quite unwell, as was usual, but insisted on continuing on with the day as normal.
This, in retrospect, was a mistake.
After school, we had a meeting with the teacher next door. My Associate teacher stepped out for a minute, and that’s the last I remember. According to the people there, I went down into a tonic clonic seizure. The teacher from next door had no idea that this was normal and was rightly alarmed. When my associate returned, she followed my action plan as I had written it.
But there was a problem.
I had been too vague with some of the signs and symptoms I would exhibit, particularly around how I would recover. I had said that it would take around 20 minutes for me to recover. At that point in time, this was accurate. But my idea of recovered differed from their idea of recovered. In 20 minutes, I was awake and able to nod. The seizure had ended, I was becoming myself again. But I had not returned to full function, and this worried them.
I had not specified that recovered did not mean returned to full function, and so they called an ambulance for extra support- something that I embarrassed about, but did not begrudge for a second. They felt they needed more support, and I should have been more specific.
And from then, I was as specific as I could be in my action plan!
I was lucky that this seizure was witnessed by someone who had read and was familiar with my action plan. I was also extremely thankful that no students witnessed the seizure, as this is another big fear of mine. I would hate to scare my students by having them see one of seizures, no matter how prepared they may feel after my lessons.
So this was my first seizure in a classroom, but not, unfortunately, my last.