Ikea and Seizure Awareness

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 epilepsy.com) –

  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!