Thursday, January 1, 2009

Epileptic Seizures, Expulsion, and War Related Stress

Epileptic Seizures, Expulsion, and War Related Stress

By Sara Layah Shomron

For years Gush Katif civilians lived in a war affected area where they were exposed to traumatic events and confronted with war related stress. Many attribute their resilience and determination to a strong religious belief, deep sense of purpose, and Zionist ideology. This says they, allowed them to persevere and maintain their mental well being as Arabs targeted them with mortars, road-side bombings and shooting attacks.

Residents of Gush Katif held fast to their convictions despite sustaining or witnessing injury, or death of a family member, neighbor, or friend. The expulsion from Gush Katif tore from them that deep sense of purpose. Also, in addition to the trauma of the expulsion, it seems that stress that had once been manageable, including dealing with past events experienced in Gush Katif, has been rendered difficult to cope with and sometime intolerable by the horrific uprooting.

There is growing research suggesting that war time stress may show up years later in a civilian population as evidenced in a connection between Post-traumatic stress syndrome and physical health problems (Sibai, Fletcher, & Armenian, 2001; Sabioncello et al., 2000). Moreover, stress may affect an increased risk of being diagnosed with epilepsy (Christensen, Li, Vestergaard & Olsen, 2007). To this end research studying the occurrence of epileptic seizures in war affected areas among children indicates "Stressful life events can be provocative factors for the occurrence of epileptic seizures," (Bosnjak J.; Vukovic-Bobic M.; Mejaski-Bosnjak V., 2002).

A Neve Dekalim youth I know was recently diagnosed with Juvenile Myclonic Epilepsy (JME). She is sensitive to epileptic drug side-effects and continues to search for a drug to control and manage seizure activity. A once self-confident, in-control child has had her self-confidence eroded; she no longer trusts her judgment as she presently suffers from anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. She is on medication and thank G-d seems to be doing better.

And now, three and a half years after our Gush Katif expulsion, she has come to truly comprehend the magnitude of her loss of Land, house, and community by living in the temporary Nitzan caravilla relocation site. She yearns for the stability she had in Gush Katif where she thrived. Suddenly the whistling sound of the end of the washing machine cycle alarms her as it reminds her of the whistling sound of a mortar overhead back in Gush Katif. Post- traumatic stress syndrome complicates her epilepsy.

Operation "Cast Lead" is in effect as Ketusha Grad rockets fly over-head. We have a mere 30 seconds to seek cover in one of the concrete sewer pipes that the government has provided in lieu of shelters capable of protecting us from missile attacks.

Israel National News reports an Ashdod child's epilepsy was triggered after a rocket fell nearby.

Will an entire country walk around dazed and wounded?


Netivotgirl said...

In my eyes, the population of Gush Katif was/ is the "creme de la creme" of Am Yisrael. When the expulsion began, I lost my naivete and much of my former blind Zionism. Your candid, painful blog-post just heightens my belief that Moshiach must be very close. That people as remarkable as yourselves must still live with such injustice, suffering and humiliation (SEWAGE PIPES!!!!) is inexcusable!! "Kaparat Avonot," indeed! May your daughter live a long life with improved health, and may all of the former Gush Katif residents be on the front lines to receive Moshiach, as you were on the front lines for so many years suffering from Arab terror.

Anonymous said...

JME is one of the easiest seizure disorders to control. but stay away from carbamazapine and dilanton which could worsen it.
usully work. keppra also should work as topamax see a specialist in Epilpsy not just a neuro. wishing good health

Anonymous said...

thanks for this article, Sara. it's not surprising that the expulsion from beautiful Gush Katif, and handing it over to our enemies, has continuing negative effects for so many people.

Sara Layah said...

Netivotgirl: stay safe! Our generation certainly has its challenges. As my Rav H"YD once wrote me, "with faith and perseverance- you'll win!"

#2 Anonymous: Thank you for this valuable and helpful information.

Leah: It's not surprising at all. What is surprising for me anyways, is to learn that we each carry various dormant health concerns, and that stress (among other factors)can trigger its activity.