Let love beat epilepsy stigma, misconceptions from this Valentine's Day

Epilepsy is a condition with which many misconceptions are associated and several misunderstandings that prevent patients from enjoying their life to the fullest.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

KOCHI: This Valentine's Day coincides with International Epilepsy Day and it's a warm reminder that love knows no bounds. Epilepsy is a condition with which many misconceptions are associated and several misunderstandings that prevent patients from enjoying their life to the fullest. However, many couples not only defeat the disease together but also the stigma associated with it.

Geethu S (36) from Mavelikkara and an MBA graduate started having episodes of seizures at the age of 20. Subsequently, the stigma associated with the condition haunted her. She even had to quit her job.

However, she fell in love with her college mate and, against all barriers and opposition from the family, they built a life together. Knowing her condition, he stood by her and they got married in 2017. She says that it was her husband who gave confidence to take life head on and defeat the illness.

"After the first seizure, I became alright in less than 10 minutes. However, I feared whether it would occur again. There is a social stigma around it. I was scared of people distancing me. When it first happened, I was at home but when it happened again, I was in college during college day celebrations. Initially, we sought ayurvedic treatment near our home itself but when it subsided, I carried on with my life," said Geethu. Even as Geethu found a support system in her partner, the condition has kept several lovers apart as well.

"There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the illness. Seeking treatment at the right time and continuing it without any halt is the key. When I quit my job four years back, I was going through mental distress but my husband stood by me with patience and guided me throughout," said Geethu.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), up to 70 per cent of people living with epilepsy could become seizure free with appropriate treatment. Also, one seizure does not signify epilepsy, there should be two or more unprovoked seizures for it.

Dr Sangeetha C Joseph, neurologist with Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi says that nobody’s dream should come to a halt because of this condition. "In this month itself, we have come across at least 10-12 youngsters in the 18-30 year age group with the condition. There are several doubts especially with women like whether they will be able to conceive or there will any ill-effects of the medicines on the baby. Depending on each case, medicines are given from mild to extreme. During pregnancy, they are given least harmful medicines," said Dr Sangeetha.

There have been several instances when the family hid the condition just to marry off their kids which ended up in divorces later on. "It is important that the person openly talks about the condition to their partner before marriage. With treatment and medications, there are always ways to live with the condition," said Dr Sangeetha.

According to Dr Sandeep Padmanabhan, there is a significant number of patients in Kerala with epilepsy due to various reasons including underlying comorbidities. "In two ways, epilepsy can occur: provoked and symptomatic seizures that are caused by previously known or suspected disorder of the central nervous system. Most common ones we come across are symptomatic seizures. The social stigma and lack of knowledge regarding the condition still prevent many from seeking medical care. The more the delay in seeking treatment, the more affected their quality of life will be," said Dr Sandeep, senior neurologist at Aster Medcity.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The New Indian Express