If you are a parent living with epilepsy, you may hesitate to talk about your seizures with your children, because you may not want to seem like a burden on them. But just as you want to make sure your kids are okay, you should trust that your children want to play a role in making sure you are okay, too. It’s important to talk to your kids about what they should know. Kids can be a strong support to help you, especially if you have a seizure. Plus, if you have more than one child, siblings can support each other.
Actor, ROGER CROSS: As a parent, you look out for your kids. If you have epilepsy, there may be times when your kids should look out for you. That’s OK.
GREG GRUNBERG interviews Wendy Miller, Ph.D, RN (Indiana University).
Greg Grunberg: So now, being a parent with epilepsy… tell me -- your husband, your kids… How open are you? You have a…
Wendy Miller: A thirteen year-old and a five year-old.
Greg: Right. Do they know everything?
Wendy: Right, well the way my children found out about it was kind of "organic." My daughter was 4, and I was hospitalized in EMU (an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit) and so that catalyzed that conversation of, "This is why Mom is in the hospital."
Greg: And why did you have to go to the hospital?
Wendy: I had some cluster seizures and we were trying to figure out what was going on. I was really sick. She was 4 at the time so she knew there was something I was managing, but at that point we had to be very open with her, and so moving forward, when i came home, my 13 year old daughter is now an expert; she came home from school, and said, "In Health we're talking about epilepsy and the teacher has it ALL wrong!" -- because the teacher was saying that seizure were convulsions… and that this was all the information that they got, and it was also portrayed a little as a mental condition, so my daughter was able to correct her teacher and say "That's not actually true," and that people with epilepsy can live very full lives… And so she gave her the example of her mother.
Greg: HOW PROUD ARE YOU --
Wendy: Very very very proud. She's done all kinds of posters for school… It was something that was always talked about, because my husband would say, "You need to make sure you're getting enough sleep," so we've never kept it secret. I've also been very open about it with my children so that they can be aware of other people. And just like we're saying, "Talk About It!" -- it's a disease like any other. There's no reason not to talk about it!
Roger Cross: If epilepsy is part of your family, be sure to talk about it, together… I'm Roger Cross. Thanks for talking about it.