The previous month, February, has been coined the month of love when people celebrate and express their heartfelt feelings to each other. I sought to find out from different people living with Epilepsy what exactly being in a relationship or dating with the reality of living with the condition translates too. Dating may be a normal part of life – but anyone will tell you that it’s far from easy. Going on a first date can be nerve-wracking under the best of circumstances; epilepsy just adds another twist.
Here are the things you should know when dating someone with epilepsy:
Be epilepsy aware -People with epilepsy may not feel comfortable revealing details about their condition on the first date. If they do open up about it, be supportive and reassuring and don't be afraid to ask them questions to better understand how you can help them.
Be mindful of medication -Once you live with a partner, you'll be aware of what time they take their medication. If they have had epilepsy for a while, chances are they'll take their medication like clockwork. We are all human though and there are times however when any of us can forget to take our meds. Make sure you notice if this happens so you can remind them. Consider occasions such as going on holiday or for a weekend away – have they remembered to pack their meds?
Know when their next doctor's appointment is -it's important that people with epilepsy get regular check-ups to ensure their medication is right. Keep on track of when their appointments are and write it on the calendar - two heads are better than one.
Know what type of seizure to expect-They may have a tonic-clonic seizure, when they lose consciousness and fall to the floor, or they may start to act confused. If you know what is normal for them, this will help you to identify quickly what is happening and how you can best help them.
Be seizure aware -if they have regular seizures know what happens to them in a seizure and how long they usually last. If their seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call an ambulance.
Know what to do if they have a tonic-clonic seizure -Put something under their head
- Do not put anything in their mouth (especially not your fingers)
- Do not try to stop their movements
- Do not move them during a seizure unless they are in danger
Learn what they need after a seizure-after a seizure, you need to turn them on their side and ease their head back to help them breathe. Do not give them anything to drink and do not leave them on their own.
Know what aftercare they require -your partner could be very tired after they have had a seizure and need to sleep. Know what works best for them so you can support them and make sure you keep an eye on them in case they have another seizure.
The time of day - be aware if your partner tends to have seizures at a particular time of day. Do they happen at night? During the morning? Generally in the afternoons? This will fall into what you know to be normal so you can make sure you are most alert at these times and act quickly if they have a seizure at a particular point in the day.
Know what their warning signs are -do they experience an aura, such as having a strange taste in their mouth or funny feeling in their stomach? Everyone who has epilepsy will experience different warning signs. If your partner tells you what their symptoms of a normal seizure are and they start to experience them you need to know what to do next.
Be alcohol aware -alcohol can make seizures worse for some people with Epilepsy, so try to encourage activities to do with your partner which don't involve alcohol.
Never let them swim alone-If you're on holiday and there's a pool at your resort, stay close by while they're in the water. Safety in the home is also an important issue to think about and you should take steps to minimize the risk of burns or scalds, or drowning while taking a bath.
Theme park safety-some people with epilepsy have concerns about safety on rides. Provided there are general safety precautions in place, rides do not have to be avoided. If your partner has frequent and/or severe seizures it would be advisable to check with their doctor.
Some attractions may involve flashing lights and these may need to be avoided by people with photosensitive epilepsy.