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Sharing the Challenges of Epilepsy

By Tom McGranahan Jr.

It was a beautiful day and I’d just finished playing in about 4 to 5 outdoor basketball games. Since the sun was soon setting, everybody began collecting their gear and walking to their cars. I didn’t have my license at the time so I got on my 10 speed bicycle and started heading back to the house about 2 miles away.

All of a sudden I woke up dazed and confused. I was laying on the ground next to a bush with my bicycle still between my legs. What’s going on? Why am I laying here? Where am I? It had turned completely dark outside. Nobody else was around and I wasn’t hurt in any way and I picked the bike back up, realized the whereabouts of the neighborhood I was in, got back on it and started heading to the house.

I’d had a complex partial seizure.

One can never tell when the next seizure will happen. Some worry about them happening any second. Some have to wear helmets all the time. Even when I was taking as many cautions as possible; taking medicines on time, eating healthy foods/fruits and getting all the vital sleep needed. Seizures kept happening anyways – no matter how hard I tried. After having experienced so many of them since childhood (age 10), had accepted the reality that they are going to occur when they’re going to occur and stopped worrying about them happening.

Epilepsy is a challenge to not only those with epilepsy but to those who intermingle or live with others who have epilepsy; my wife, my daughters, my parents, my friends and others.

There is no need to get all worried and scared by it. And there’s really nothing anyone can do when they see someone have a seizure – simply let them have the seizure. It is just a “short circuit”. Some are short tiny ones (absence) others can be a little more encompassing (complex) with others be all-encompassing (tonic-clonic) and they may become never-ending (status elepticus) which becomes then a must time to call an ambulance – 50,000 people a year die from those seizures.

A seizure, on its own, is likely not a reason to call an ambulance – those rides today cost $400-$600. Unless the person has fallen hard and are possibly injured, or the seizures don’t stop, they don’t usually need medical attention. And don’t ever put a spoon or anything in somebody’s mouth – nobody can swallow their tongue.

After the seizure (usually last 1-2 minutes) make sure they lay down, turn their head/body to the side and let them sleep it off. They are usually all disarrayed when they wake up – no big deal. Some aren’t even aware they had a seizure which is mainly because they’d become unconscious and so don’t have any memory of it.

It’s more than understandable for others to not know much of anything about epilepsy. If I didn’t have epilepsy I wouldn’t know a darn thing about it myself. And ironically, due to the society’s overall misunderstanding, many others who have epilepsy won’t talk about it to help others understand it because it almost always cost them any social acceptance, employment…

Epilepsy is a challenge to not only those with epilepsy but to those who intermingle or live with others who have epilepsy; my wife, my daughters, my parents, my friends and others.

More can be learned by visiting places like: or … or on Facebook:,

Everyone who has Epilepsy directly or indirectly (family member or friend) please choose to see the positive aspects of each New Day ahead. Do not let the mayhem of seizures have the final say on your perspectives. There is so much more to this world than Epilepsy. Yes, it can be quite degrading to our financial, personal, economical… aspects of life but don’t ever let it degrade your spirits – simply don’t let it! Instead choose to see the positive. By doing so we are “bringing” strengths into our family, friends and all others handling the disorders of Epilepsy instead of “pulling” on them.

Let’s all start off our upcoming days Staying Strong!!



To learn more about Tom’s story, visit his website:

One can also view Tom and his wife on a ‘Virginia Currents’ TV show (debut -2013, rerun -2015):

And check out this video of Tom speaking:




This Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Tom McGranahan Jr. was born in Richmond Va., the second oldest in a family of eight. Lives with wife Angela and 2 daughters, Mariah and Arielle. He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He was a member of Virginia State Board for People with Disabilities 6/95-6/99, and speaker at Department of Education’s 3rd National Employment Conference 9/11/00. Exercises every other day at a gym and operates a residential painting business. He steadily perseveres to life’s challenges – like writing this article – even after 50% of the language section of his brain was removed in his 4th brain operation.
Visit his website: