SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - November is Epilepsy Awareness month and one military spouse is doing what she can to help raise awareness to the devastating neurological problem.
Two years ago doctors diagnosed Tamika Rhinehart with Epilepsy. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), defines epilepsy as a broad term used for a brain disorder that causes seizures.
"I've woken up in the middle the night and was crunching on something and come to find out I chipped a tooth," Rhinehart said. "I woke up, just a few nights ago actually, with this ginormous bruise on my leg it's still healing."
"I just thought I was having an erratic sleep pattern. I was waking up constantly in the middle of the night, come to find out I wake up after my seizures."
Rhinehart describes her initial care as fast and furious.
"It was, let's put her on as many meds as we can and see what happens," Rhinehart said. "That brought me to take in 27 pills a day. I was completely bedridden . I mean, it was like my husband would wake me up, give me a set of pills, give me food and I would go back to sleep."
She continued, "With that many chemicals in your system you can't function, it's just not possible, but at that time I was having about 5 to 7 seizures a night."
Rhinehart wears a lot of titles military wife, mother of three and graduate student and refuses to let the disease control her.
Under doctor's care, she has been able to take back her life, and is now fighting to raise awareness in hopes of finding a cure for Epilepsy.
"We (people diagnosed with Epilepsy) are really just given, like hey, try these meds see what happens and it's because not enough money is put into research and that's where I come in."
There will be a silent auction, food and more. All proceeds will be given to the Epilepsy Foundation of Louisiana.
"People need to realize that Epilepsy is more than just convulsing, that's what people think about when you hear 'oh she has epilepsy' and they think convulsing, but epilepsy comes in so many different forms."
If anything comes from her story, Rhinehart wants people to understand what to do if they encounter someone having a seizure.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation here are general first aid steps for seizures:
- Always stay with the person until the seizure is over
- Pay attention to the length of seizure (if it's longer than 5 minutes call 911)
- Stay calm, most seizures last only a few minutes
- Prevent injury by moving objects out of the way
- Make person as comfortable as possible
- Keep onlookers away
- Do not forcibly hold the person down
- Do not put anything in the person's mouth
- Make sure breaking is okay
- Do not give the person any water, food or pills by mouth until they are fully alert
- Be sensitive and supportive