Thursday, October 02, 2014
   
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Seizure smart

Fifth grader with epilepsy raising awareness about condition.

Dakota “Kody” Miller roughhouses with his two brothers, plays video games and loves to walk to an after-school church program on Wednesdays.

This month, the 11-year-old Dudley Elementary fifth grader is on a mission—to educate the public about being seizure smart.

Two years ago, Kody was diagnosed with epilepsy.

 

Since then, he and his family have become aware at how little people know about epilepsy and seizures.

 

Especially since Kody’s seizures can be difficult to notice.

“I used to have up to 50 seizures a day and nobody knew because they didn’t know what to look for,” he said. “My seizures don’t look like what most people know about.”

Because November is epilepsy awareness month, Kody and his family are providing businesses with information about seizures and selling purple bracelets for a free-will offering.

Donations for the bracelets, and to the Dakota Miller Epilepsy Fund at First State Bank, will help Kody attend a summer camp in Colorado, which is located in a seizure-safe environment with doctors and nurses.

Kody’s seizures were first detected by his grandmother at a family gathering.

Heather Miller, Kody’s mother, said that the grandmother told the family that the grandfather of Travis Miller—Kody’s father—had seizures.

At about age 8, Heather said they’d noticed that Kody often ignored the family.

“He’d talk to us and then look away and zone out,” she explained. “We thought he was being naughty but got it checked out.”

A local physician directed Cody to a neurologist who confirmed the boy had epilepsy.

“I was scared, terrified because that meant he couldn’t go to the pool by himself or ride a bike to his friend’s house or be left alone,” Heather said.

The family also had known Bailey Streeter of Gothenburg who died during an epileptic seizure.

From tests, doctors determined Kody had complex partial and absence seizures.

For Kody, complex partial seizures may mean he’ll stop what he’s doing and stare blankly at nothing in particular.

“People might appear conscious and normal but they’ll usually move about and remain standing with their eyes open, ” Heather explained. “It will be like they’re dreaming or in a trance.”

During an absence seizure, Kody might lick his lips or walk into a wall.

Before Kody began taking medication for seizures, Heather said they lasted anywhere from 20 to 30 seconds but now can be five to 10 seconds.

Kody said he never knows when seizures are going to happen or when they end.

However since July, he has not had any which prompted doctors to wean him from one medication.

With a diagnosis of childhood epilepsy, Heather said her son might outgrow the condition.

Still, she said it’s important that teachers and other adults know the signs of seizures and can document them and their duration.

“Just because a person is not shaking on the ground, doesn’t mean they’re not having a seizure,” she said.

For Kody, the most difficult thing about having seizures is that he doesn’t get to spend time with his friends as often.

“And then it’s mostly at my house when my parents are there so I’m in a safe environment,” he said.

When other kids ask about his epilepsy, Kody said he tells them are many different kinds of seizures.

He also tells them he “blanks out” when having one.

“I want kids to understand it’s not a bad thing,” Kody said. “It’s also not a good thing but it could always be worse.”

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