Health Plus: Epilepsy - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Epilepsy

A freak accident at age thirteen has left one eastern Iowa man dealing with a lifetime of seizures.

Steve Fred is 30-years-old, but years ago at thirteen a ride in his brother's pick-up drastically changed his life.

His brother slammed on his brakes, and Steve's head went through the back window.

"There's been a lot of stuff that I wanted to do. I thought about joining the military, of course couldn't do that. After I graduated from Iowa, I was wanting to do the peace corps, couldn't do that," he said.

For nearly two decades since the accident, the Fredericksburg man has been dealing with recurrent seizures.

His neurologist at Covenant Clinic in Waterloo says Steve has epilepsy, which causes abnormal movement or behavior due to unusual electrical activity in the brain.

Seizures can be described as an electrical storm in your brain, and when they're recurrent, an epilepsy diagnosis usually follows.

"So he would be unconscious. He would go into a seizure and then he can bite his tongue. He can have urinary incontinence," Dr. Sangeeta Goel said.

Doctor Goel says the key to treating epilepsy for Steve is finding the best combination of medications to control it--and for those in his life, learning to help when needed.

"The main thing would be not to panic. The first thing would be to make sure the patient is in a safe place. Do not put them on the back. Turn them on one side because they would not be able to swallow the saliva. Do not put anything in their mouth. It is okay for a patient to bite their tongue because they would not be able to cut it off," she said.

Steve, who works part-time in a restaurant, says finding and keeping a job is tough with his recurrent seizures.

"I can't drive, which limits me a lot from hanging out with friends to finding work," he added.

A bright spot in Steve's life, he and his wife heather are expecting their first child in May.

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