November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and one of our local Steamboat neighbors is raising awareness on the disorder. Bill Whittemore has lived with Epilepsy since he was 2-days old but he doesn’t let it get him down. A familiar face at Natural Grocers, Bill has found that staying active and social helps him mediate his epileptic attacks. “I find that the more I’m active, the better I do health wise,” explains Bill who attributes his success minimizing the effects of the disorder to activity and diet as well supplements and medication prescribed by his neurologist.
As a part of National Epilepsy Awareness Month, Whittemore is raising money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado, a non-profit charity that works to assist the more than 50,000 men, women, and children living with Epilepsy in Colorado. Bill is raising awareness about Epilepsy both for people who may suffer from it and for people who want to help but don’t know how.
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition caused by periods of abnormal activity in the brain’s electrical traffic that affects more than three-million people in America, and roughly one in every hundred people around the world. The most prevalent and visible symptoms of Epilepsy are seizures, which present in many different forms. The causes of Epilepsy vary by person and include genetics, infections, and traumatic brain injuries.
In Bill’s case, he was discovered by a nurse in respiratory distress. The lack of air and the trauma to his brain contributed to his disorder. Since then, Bill’s epilepsy has presented in many different ways, generally distinguished by the type of seizures that he has.
So, what do you do if you see someone having a seizure? “A lot of people want to help out but often don’t know what to do,” explains Bill. “For example, out in the middle of town, I had a seizure where I felt really dizzy and I felt really bad, and people came and helped me and I asked them ‘Well how long did this last and you say that I fell but did you see which way I fell?’” If you witness someone having a seizure, here are a few simple steps that you can take to assist them:
If you see someone having a seizure, you should call 911 or bring them to the Emergency Room if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, the person is unable to breath, if they are bleeding or have hurt themselves, or if they don’t regain their regular cognitive functions after the seizure.
If you would like to help Bill’s effort to raise money for the Epilepsy foundation, you can donate through the end of the month on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/donate/482679455552878/). Also, you can donate to the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado year-round on their website (https://efco.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=cms.page&id=1008), and to the national Epilepsy Foundation at their website (https://donate.epilepsy.com/donate).