Decembers Caregivers Corner NSDF

 This is a special place Found in our NSDF website for Caregivers only. Find comfort, support, and helpful resources here from caregivers just like YOU!
 
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This month, Caregiver Denise shares her thoughts and experiences on  stress  and a few resources she finds helpful while helping her boys live with Epilepsy.
Let’s talk about stress. It’s important to understand what stress is and how it affects your body, to fully understand how important is it to find effective measures to reduce it. Stress is a natural part of life, and believe it or not stress is a necessary part of creativity, learning and survival. Too much stress however, can have a negative effect of your daily life and outcome of our survival if not dealt with effectively. When you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, what your feeling is your body’s natural fight or flight response which releases adrenaline and cortisol. A little bit of stress, often referred to as acute stress can be exciting, and it keeps us alert. Long-term, or what is referred to as chronic stress can have long term effects on our well being.   I recently went to the Dr. because I honestly felt like I was having a heart problem. The Physician explained to me that the amount of stress I was under, compiled by my pre-existing anxiety had placed my body in a constant state of tension. I researched this and found that when you are feeling that fight or flight response in a crisis your body is going through a lot. The cortisol and adrenaline released in your body is speeding up your pulse rate, breathing, blood circulation, muscle tension and glandular function. When a caregiver of someone with Epilepsy has this happen over and over again, eventually the nervous system stays ready to react to a crisis all the time causing the body to stay in a constant state of tension. This state of tension creates a person that tends to react to small stressors the way you would normally to true emergencies. All those hormones that are created in the stress state must be released to bring our bodies back in balance. If we do not work towards reducing stress and releasing this built up tension, it can only lead to emotional burnout and complete exhaustion. The only way to break this cycle is to find ways that work for you to relieve stress. I encourage you to find ways to reduce stress in your lives. Doing this will help us be better caregivers, by having better health and positive long term health outcomes.
There are many forms of stress reduction techniques and I will just touch on a few of them.
~Music and Art Therapy
There are many options in this category! Sometimes just putting on your favorite upbeat CD can make a difference if you dance and sing along! My older child with Epilepsy has recently discovered that Art Therapy works for him. He will sit for hours and paint creating wonderful works of art. I also find it very relaxing to draw and paint.
~Prayer/Meditation
A quiet mind is more important than a positive mind. – Deepak Chopra
Take just 5 minutes a day to be in complete silence, focusing on your body and the effects of stress and learning to relax. This can be achieved in the bath, laying on your back in bed or even while sitting. Start at your feel and pay attention as you move upward focusing on noticing areas of tension and calming them. Once your body is calm and relaxed pray or focus on the positive things.meditate Think about all the blessings you have and the good that is in your life. Even if it’s just the pretty sky today or the beautiful flower you saw, find something to focus on that is positive and good. A Physician years ago use to tell patents to breathe in and out deeply. As you breathe in say (Peace, Jesus, Higher Power, Joy, Calm whatever you need) IN and as your release that deep breath slowly say (Stress, Anxiety, Tension, Sadness, Pain) whatever you need out OUT. So I often find myself saying Peace IN Stress out as I take deep breaths and so on. Focusing on releasing it seems to help me in a big way, even when I do not have a lot  of time. I find that CD’s that are designed with stress reduction, relaxation and meditation are a good choice for me, such as this one:
~Laugh
Laughter is a natural stress reducer that  is very effective at reducing stress. Watch funny videos, a funny movie and seriously just Laugh Out Loud!
~Exercise
Something we all may not want to do or think we have time for, but we all need exercise! Go for a walk, even if it is just up and down the driveway, get moving! Can’t go outside today? Stretch and touch those cute toes! Turn on the music and dance the stress away. Exercise will release those feel good chemicals to help combat those stress feelings.
~Practice Gratitude
When we make a point to keep track of Good, Positive and Beautiful things it helps us to not stay so focused on the Negative, Painful, Stressful things in our lives. I find that when I start to feel overwhelmed, if I start looking for simple little positives it helps combat the stress and overwhelming feelings. Such as, “Brett had a terrible seizure today, but he recovered well and his postictal is not as overwhelming as it could be.”
~ Volunteer 
What is available in your community or online to help you live your passion while helping others? Find it and ask about volunteer opportunities. Even as little as 1 hour a week can decrease your stress, help others, and increase your health. Volunteering to do that which you love decreases your stress and increases those feel good hormones instantly! I know from experience as I volunteer my time to reduce stress and feel good at National Seizure Disorders Foundation as Board Member and Treasurer. Leave a comment below to ask about our opportunities.
Life as a caregiver can be tremendously stressful  as we endure this roller coaster ride of good and bad days. Often it seems like we may never have a “normal” life again. I hope that today you will focus on ways to combat the stress that comes with this journey. I also hope that if you are feeling overwhelmed and need help you will reach out to those around you. Find other parents who are on the same ride and somehow it doesn’t feel so lonely. Just knowing that there are others experiencing the same stress helps greatly.
Denise MarshAbout the Author: Denise is a homeschooling mother of six who lives in Alabama. Denise’s two youngest sons, Brynn and Brett have refractory Epilepsy.  Denise volunteers her time and energy as National Seizure Disorders Foundation Board Member and Treasurer. Enjoy the monthly feature articles from NSDF Caregivers Corner written by Denise. 

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Year end quick wrap up!

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I have posted an update. October, November and December have proven to be just as much a Epilepsy Roller Coaster as the prior months… well years. We have seen Brynn do so much better and have just a few small                                                   bumps of loss in seizure control.

All in all, I would still say that he is better than he has been in years. Brett on the other hand seems to gain some control and in a matter of hours, days or weeks crashes again. Brynn and Brett will see a geneticist in January.                                        We are hoping that we will have some answers from that appointment instead of more questions, like the previous Epilepsy Panel. The Geneticist hopefully can answer some of  

the questions about the two unknown mutations that came back on Brett’s previous Panel. (varients of unknown signifigance are 1.) heterozygous for late onset multiple carboxylase def w/biotinidase def p.G1n88Glu 2.) lysomsomal storage disease ds aspartylglucosaminuria p.Leu146Val)
The new Neuro does believe that they have a male dominant, female carried rare genetic female carried epilepsy syndrome similar to LGS.
   We returned to the Seizure clinic this 

month, and were referred to the seating clinic to order a bath chair. I brought Brett’s wheelchair to ask for a seat belt to be ordered. What a blessing they had one and started installing it right then! Unfortunately, Brett went into a Complex Partial seizure while it was being installed. With no break in between after several minutes the Complex Partial generalized into a Tonic Clonic.

911 was called after about 5 or so minutes. The nurse estimated that the Tonic Clonic seizure lasted about 8 minutes. He went to a postictal like state for about two minutes and then his eyes popped open into another seizure he went. Second Complex Partial that also went into a Tonic Clonic. It took an hour before Brett arrived in postictal state by ambulance to the ER. ER was over filled and the hall was being used to treat immediate cases. We

stayed there until he slept it off and awakened hungry and ready to go home. I got a prescription from the ER Dr. for Nasal Versed after he asked why I didn’t have his Diastat on me. I explained that I usually do not carry Diastat when I am fairly close to home, we really do not leave the house often anyway and when we do we are going to the Dr. anyway!

In the off chance we do get to take Brett to a store or restaurant he is 10, weighs close to 100 pounds and I would rather call 911 than try to get his pants down and administer Diastat in that situation in front of so many people. In hindsight, I feel terribly guilty that I did not have any emergency medication on me. I had no idea that it could take so long for Paramedics to get to us in this big huge city either. My thinking will change, once

again and I am sure my anxiety will not get any better either about leaving home with Brett and without Brett. We were only about 10 minutes from home and it was just a quick appointment, but once again I am reminded that Epilepsy does not have rules. When we left the house he looked great, no clue that a seizure was coming until it was happening.

I certainly didn’t expect him to be in status in a matter of minutes like he was. I went ahead and placed the Seizure Alert Dog Medication Inside bag that will be clipped to Blue’s vest in my purse with preloaded Nasal Versed and Diastat and will not be leaving home with Brett without it again. Brett will be getting the bath chair and his wheelchair now has a seat belt. We were referred to an Easter

Seals program to try to locate a better wheelchair after the physical therapist saw him actually have a seizure in the chair it became evident that he needs a chair that we can recline the back in the even of a seizure for his safety. If we can’t locate a used one he will order him a new one. All the children are excited about Hanukkah coming! Hope to update soon, if not I will I will update after the Geneticist appointment. We should have some photos in January of the boys and Blue! She is coming for a practice training visit with Brynn and Brett! Of course we are all really excited about this! Blue’s balance is likely sitting around the $900 mark! We are getting so close to getting her paid! God is good, even in the midst of this Epilepsy battle, God is so good and has never left our sides!  I have taken on new responsibility at National Seizure Disorders Foundation as the Treasurer and started writing Caregivers Corner as well.  http://nationalseizuredisordersfoundation.org/nsdf-caregivers-corner/  
It has been a blessing to be a part of NSDF and I expect really great things to come in the future.