I tell my kids that all the time, especially the 3 oldest.  I don't know if that's a quote from someone else or not, but I say it all the time to them.

My first shift ever in a group home for people with developmental disabilities my first task was to help a man with his shower.  I was told he has a history of siezures so he can not be left alone in the bathroom at anytime for any reason.  I can not leave the bathroom while he is in there.  I was washing his hair, just got the shampoo in and was scrubbing away while he made small talk.  Then he stopped talking, and didn't respond to me, then his eyes went back and he went into a full blown grand mal siezure.  I guided him to the ground and did the best I could to protect his head.  Sliding around the shower floor (it was a wheelchair accesible shower) trying to keep my lap under his head.  Screamed for help, another staff came in and called 911.  When the paramedics arrived, he was still siezing, naked on top of me (I was completely soaked), the water was still on, the paramedics got him off of me and onto the gurney, after I finished telling them what happened, they told me that it was a good thing I was right there because otherwise he could have hit his head very hard on something.  All of that happened in less than 5 minutes. 

Things I learned from that shift.

1. When doing that kind of work-ALWAYS keep a complete change of clothing with you at all times.

2.  Some rules are meant to be broken, and others are never to be broken.

I was promoted quickly within this company because of the degree I was working towards, and if you were under me, leaving someone with a history of siezures unattended in a bathroom would result in immediate termination.  Because that day I learned why the bathroom is so dangerous for siezures.  Yes if a person goes into a siezure anywhere they are at risk of hitting their head of something.  But bathrooms pose special risks.  Think about your bathroom.  If you were standing in your bathroom and fell, what are the chances you would hit your head on something that could cause injury?  Almost 100%, I would bet.  Bathrooms are small with a lot of things in them, the vanity, the toilet, the tub, the shower curtain/rod (could be pulled down and a person could get entangled in the curtain), towel rods, storage, laundry baskets, all of those things in what is typically a small space.  Then their is the privacy issue-most people want privacy in the bathroom so if someone is unattended in a bathroom and has a siezure-they may not be found until it is too late.  Like what I suspect happened to Jett Travolta.  If the rest of the family was already in bed (or if Jett had gone to bed early) and got up to go to the bathroom, that is why he was not found until the next morning.  Think about it, on average how many times a day does your child pee with you not knowing about it?  Especially if they are potty trained.  Never allowing a person with siezures alone in a bathroom is one of those rules that should never be broken. 

Now I 100% realize that some people with siezures do not want someone in the bathroom with them when they are showering or using the toilet.  So what do you do then?  How are you supposed to monitor them when they don't want you in there? 

Things that can be done to monitor a person with a siezure disorder while in the bathroom while allowing them their  privacy.

1.  Shower curtains aren't just for showers!  In one home I worked in with higher functioning people, who could shower independently we replaced the bathroom door with a shower curtain and shower curtain rod-it allowed for the privacy of a door-but still provided a way to supervise and be aware if something happened.  In one home the bathroom had a neat set up and we put an additional shower curtain in the bathroom, so staff could sit in the bathroom on one side of the curtain while the person did their stuff in private. 

2.  Put alarms or bells on the bathroom door so you know when it has been opened and closed.  Then you know if someone is in there, and depending on why they went in-you know about how long it should be before you check on them. 

3. Baby monitors.  You can put baby monitors in the bathroom and hear what is going on it, so you can hear if something is going on that needs your attention. 

So please if you child has a history of siezures take measures to make sure they are safe while in the bathroom, Jett Travolta may have been able to be saved if someone had just known he had to pee!

So in honor of Jett, please make sure this does not happen to your child regardless of age.  I think his parents would want us to learn from their mistakes.

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Jan. 3, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Please vote popular!!!  This post could save a life!

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Jan. 3, 2009 at 12:58 PM

bumpThis is a great post !!!

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Jan. 3, 2009 at 8:51 PM

So true! When my Grandpa died, while we were at the funeral home there was another family there that was buring their daughter.  She was about 6 and had a history of seizures.....she had one in the bathtub and drowned.  It was so incredibly sad.

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Jan. 3, 2009 at 9:06 PM

Thank you for this post!

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Jan. 3, 2009 at 9:26 PM

Bump !!!!

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Jan. 3, 2009 at 11:53 PM

I have a well controlled seizure disorder and haven't had one for about 4 years now thanks to brain surgery and good meds....... you can never be too careful though.  I like hearing these little reminders though because any day that can change.  as with anyone who has a disability, I love to be independant of others and do not like being babysat, but it is good to be safe rather than sorry!   God Bless! 

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Jan. 4, 2009 at 10:50 AM

A sad preventable situation. Great post! BUMP!

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Jan. 4, 2009 at 10:52 AM

Thank you for this wonderful well-written and informative post! So many do not understand seizures and the seriousness involved. Partly because so much of the brain is still not understood yet by specialists even. My 31 year old had her first and only grand mal, luckily, while at the hospital already. She was only nine and they were doing a CAT scan (along with other tests) to determine why she was acting strangely that afternoon. I had taken her in because she had had pneumonia two weeks before and I thought she might have Reyes Syndrome by her behavior. While in for the CAT, she began to convulse and vomit, too. They were able to get a tube in to clear her throat immediately, but felt that had she not been at the hospital, she would have likely drown in her own vomit. EEGs found the abnormality in her occipital region of the brain and her seizures are visual (extremely rare - her neurologist had only read of them before having her as a patient).

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Jan. 4, 2009 at 11:04 AM

My father was epileptic and as much as he was controlled by meds (only 2 grand mal seizures in 20 years) and liked his independence he never drove (mom always did) and never was alone in the bathroom.  We did the whole shower curtain on the door thing and as much as my sister and I hated it as teens we knew why it was there.  Seizure disorders are nothing to mess around with.

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Jan. 4, 2009 at 1:09 PM Hey Jennifer! Your post is currently #4 on CafeMom! Way to get the word out! HUGS

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