If seizures do recur a parent may use different coping mechanisms than a child. You have already been through the initial shock of seeing tonic-clonic shaking. You have probably come to terms with your initial anxiety. Perhaps you know what to do this second time and are less frightened than at first. But you may be discouraged. Your hopes that a seizure would not recur have been dashed. What is worse, your physician has now used the word “epilepsy.” Although epilepsy simply means recurrent seizures, the term carries yet a lot of baggage—myths, mystiques, and prejudices, as we have discussed earlier in this book.
When many people think of epilepsy, they think of the child who is severely handicapped by continuing seizures. Yet they are a small subgroup of children with epilepsy. The largest group are those with “benign epilepsy of childhood,” which seems to be outgrown, and a third group has seizures that can be controlled with medicines and that also are, often, outgrown. For most children (eight out of ten) with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled—yes, completely controlled. When a child’s epilepsy is under control, it shouldn’t significantly alter his life or yours. The myths are wrong!
For one in five children with epilepsy, however, seizures may be difficult to control. Control will require trying out different medications, coping with their side effects, and perhaps even surgery. Your life and your child’s life are obviously going to change in significant ways.
Which group will your child fit into? After just a second, or even after a third tonic-clonic seizure, it may be difficult to tell.
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