Ikea and Seizure Awareness

4 Dec

Sunday, Josh and I went to Ikea in search of a new mattress, and of course, left with more than we expected to get and a belly full of meatballs.

But I’m not here to talk about their food or their products…

We got there mid-afternoon, and it was crazy busy.  After wandering through the showrooms, laying on mattresses, figuring out which we wanted, figuring out something for the girls room as well, we decided to queue up for some food at their cafeteria.  I left Josh to pay for it as I scouted out seats.  When he got to the table, he said “Did you see what happened?”  I said no, and he let me know a woman had a seizure over by the line.

I looked over.  You couldn’t really miss it in a way.  There was the line for the cafeteria and all these Ikea store employees standing guard, using their bodies to allow the woman some privacy, running cushions over, cordoning off the area.  Eventually they got some room dividers and blankets from the showroom to give her even more privacy.  Two team members sat with her as she laid there recovering.

All very efficient and calm.  Well, okay, some had that wide-eyed expression of “Holy Bleep!” people get when in these situations, but no one was outwardly freaking out.

Someone there knew what to do.  The staff appeared to have training on what to do in case of medical emergencies such as this.

A couple of years ago or more, I was in Target with the girls.  In the middle of an aisle, Maura had a partial seizure (she turned red, fell to the ground, was limp but didn’t shake.)  As I sat on the floor with her, a Target team member came by, saw us, asked if we were okay.  I said yes.  (Don’t ask me why, it was just easier?)  She then got all concerned and was asking if Maura had fallen or hit her head – I guess she was thinking lawsuit.  So I said no, she has a seizure disorder, she probably was having a partial seizure.

The woman’s eyes went wide.  She got all “Oh dear!  Oh no!”  She started getting panicky and tears came to her eyes. I repeated calmly that we were fine, these things happened, it would be okay.  I really didn’t want to have to reassure this woman, who was getting more worked up than me.  And I needed people to be calm because I had Miriam with me and she needed to see calm, competent adults take care of her sister.  Calm was not this woman’s forte.

Maura wasn’t totally out of it, and smaller, so I was able to heft her into the basket of the cart and get to the check out (where, ironically, a woman tried to cut in front of me in line and then started to complain about me until I told her my daughter had a seizure, I needed to get out of the store, thankyouverymuch.  That stopped her complaining.)

Looking back, after watching the Ikea team manage things, I think in my case, it would have been nice to have a little help in that situation.  Calm, efficient help.  If just to help me get to the check out and to my car.  And yes, it sounds weird, that Maura would have a seizure and we’d still stop to check out.  But there was stuff we needed, and honestly, it wasn’t a full seizure, just a partial one.  And once it’s over, that’s pretty much it.  She’s tired, but okay.

So, what do YOU do if you encounter someone who’s having a seizure?  (copied and pasted from –

  1. Stay calm
  2. Prevent injury
    During the seizure, you can exercise your common sense by insuring there is nothing within reach that could harm the person if she struck it.
  3. Pay attention to the length of the seizure
  4. Make the person as comfortable as possible
  5. Keep onlookers away
  6. Do not hold the person down
    If the person having a seizure thrashes around there is no need for you to restrain them. Remember to consider your safety as well
  7. Do not put anything in the person’s mouth
    Contrary to popular belief, a person having a seizure is incapable of swallowing their tongue so you can breathe easy in the knowledge that you do not have to stick your fingers into the mouth of someone in this condition.
  8. Do not give the person water, pills, or food until fully alert
  9. If the seizure continues for longer than five minutes, call 911
  10. Be sensitive and supportive, and ask others to do the same

After the seizure, the person should be placed on her left side. Keep in mind there is a small risk of post-seizure vomiting, before the person is fully alert. Therefore, the person’s head should be turned so that any vomit will drain out of the mouth without being inhaled. Stay with the person until she recovers (5 to 20 minutes).

The team members of Ikea in Dublin did all this.  I was really impressed – good job Ikea of Dublin!


6 Responses to “Ikea and Seizure Awareness”

  1. JMO December 4, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    My daughter has refractory seizures as well and has had them in many public places- campground Olympics, parade, stores, amusement parks, school, gymnastics etc… Having calm, knowledgable people is wonderful. My daughter’s seizures are complex partial so she is often semi- conscious. If she hears panicking she will panic and it can affect her oxygen even more. So I need people around her to sound calm and reassuring.
    Thanks so much for posting and kudos to the Ikea staff!

  2. Jessica December 4, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    This is a great reminder for everyone. My daughter has seizures and while hers are typically short, they are still seizures. I can’t believe the lady in Target had no common sense when dealing with you and Maura’s seizure. I’m glad Ikea did, though! Coincidently, on my blog right now I’m focused on raising money to get Emma a seizure alert dog. Maybe you would take a peek and share?

  3. Rachel o'Toole December 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Excellent! Really great story. Being an epileptic myself and having experienced a wide range of reactions from being stepped over to dropped to my parents door from Dublin City Centre to Blanchardstown by a taxi driver who refused point blank to take any money for his time, it is so important that people react as calmly as possible. Its so incredibly disorientating coming out of a seizure and panic, coupled with embarrassment and an on-looking crowd make it so much worse!

  4. Lori December 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I’ve had seizures my entire life. My are a result of my Type I Diabetes. I don’t remember anything leading up to them, during or after. I just know that when I come out of it, I am pretty sick and very drained. 😦 I always feel horrible for the person that has to deal with me while I’m in that situation. Whether it be my husband, parents, or a complete stranger while I am out (which has been known to happen). I’m 34 years old – I shouldn’t be embarrassed about what my body decideds to do, yet when I wake up on the floor surrounded by medical personnel and a panicking husband, that’s a pretty good decsription to sum up how I feel. Kudos to the IKEA staff to keep onlookers at bay and to give her the support and privacy that she needed. It’s never fun to wake up some where, not knowing what happened. But…it is reassuring to know that there are people out there who understand. ❤

  5. Sylvia December 4, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    Bethany has been having seizures in public for 12 years. Until a few weeks ago she was having up to 50 Tonic Clonic (grand mal) seizures a week so you can guess how many she’s had in public– a lot! In 12 years only 2 people have ever offered to help! Most people pretend they don’t notice. We’ve even had people reach over her seizing body to get something off the shelf!!

    • phoebz4 December 5, 2012 at 3:54 am #

      OMG – I would like to think I’ll be the one to help out these days. I can’t imagine someone having a seizure and people stepping over them. Why? Why would you do that?

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