Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest: Don Miller
Guest Bio: Don Miller dispells common myths about the Epilepsy. He’s lived with it for the past
40 years and explains what epilepsy fitness is and how it can be applied to anyone. He shares his personal story that includes overcoming an alcohol addiction. He’s the author of “Epilepsy Memoir: My 40-Year Detour.”
Don Miller discusses what Epilepsy is and how it has affected him. He talks about challenges and triumphs having lived with the disease for more than forty years.
Neal: Hello, you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. Thank you so much for joining us today. Epilepsy is something that many of us have heard about – some of us even experienced it with a family member, maybe ourselves – but there is very little known about epilepsy even though research is continuing. Our guest in studio today has an abundance of experience with “E” as he calls it the big “E”, is Mr. Don Miller. He’s here to talk about how epileptics can keep themselves fit and out of harm’s way. How are you doing today Don?
Don: I’m doing great.
N: Great. You’re a sufferer of epilepsy to this day. It’s not something that you’ve grown out of. It’s something that you’ve been dealing with your entire life. I’m sure that it has affected your life in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. You were here before, we were talking in another segment about exactly what epilepsy is. You explained to myself and my listeners that it is an excess of electrical charges in the brain – sometimes partially affecting the brain, sometimes affecting the entire brain. If it is a disease, then there must be ways that a person can live with it and, you know, enjoy a productive, healthy, happy life as you have – as a published author with “Epilepsy Memoirs: My Forty-Year Detour.” You’re a testament to the fact that it’s not a deal-breaker. Is that correct?
D: That is correct.
N: In your information, I came across the term called “epilepsy fitness.” Now, we’re all familiar with fitness, you know – health fitness, diet fitness and different types of it. When it comes to epilepsy, how does it differ from other types of fitness techniques?
D: Ok. Well, I want to get people a plan on how to be fit that would fit within their budget because most people who have epilepsy are in a limited or low-income. So I put together a series of exercises – leg, abdominal, arm – that a person can do even if they are affected by seizure meds.
N: Now, you say, even if they’re affected by these seizure meds. Now when you’re talking about these seizure meds, I know there’s a lot in the news or in past months about certain derivatives of Marijuana or hemp or something like that, that’s being used for seizure in children. Are you talking about those types of drugs? Or are they experimental or are you talking about the traditional drugs that are given to treat epilepsy?
D: I’m talking about the regular pharmaceutical drugs. As far as medicinal marijuana, my neurologist, I’ve asked her about that and she said, “We’ve only had a 10% efficacy rate. It didn’t work that well in adults but it does help in children.” She did say that.
N: Okay. Now, when someone is taking on your “Fitness Regimen,” epilepsy affects the muscles. These muscles can spasm at any time. Are there certain takes on traditional movements and exercises that you’ve adjusted in order to be effective with the epileptic?
D: Well, as I’ve said, people with epilepsy are usually on a limited budget and I replaced dumbbells with soup cans.
D: The chunky soup weighs about a pound. You can replace that for a dumbbell and do curls and squats. The big bean can weigh approximately two pounds.
N: Okay. So you’re not talking about anything that’s too strenuous or too involved because you’ll never know at what point you may overwork the body or simply pass out from your disease.
D: Yes. I used to lift regular weights and so forth, and I‘ll have a problem – I’d over eat and I go into a seizure. Now if you’re pressing a weight and go into a seizure and the barbell will go crashing down, it might crash your throat or damage you permanently.
N: Yeah, absolutely. Talking about the weights and some of the problems that one might encounter as an epileptic simply doing exercises, when it comes to the cardiovascular system and when you’re exercising to any degree – your heart rate goes up or maybe you’re suffering from high blood pressure anyway. As an epileptic, how do you combat those types of problems?
D: Okay. Generally, when you go to an exam or something, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure increases. I follow a technique that’s a combination of deep breathing, meditation, and auto-hypnosis. When you’re seated, close your eyes and breathe in through your nose deeply and out through your mouth as you breathe out. You say the word, very out loud, “Relax” or silently inside and using that word of affirmation, you are going to relax – your body does relax and your heart rate will lower and your blood pressure will lower.
N: Okay, I understand. It’s a meditation – a calming technique. To be overly simplistic, “mind over matter” as it were. Now, when we’re talking about some of these techniques that you’ve put in to practice for epileptics, what advice can you tell healthcare professionals who are dealing with epileptics when it comes to their health? Or who may suspect that a person is epileptic – what is the next step if a physician suspects epilepsy maybe the problem?
D: Okay, if a person has gone to a general practitioner and the person exhibits the symptoms of epilepsy – the Grand Mal seizure which is pretty well recognized; the complex partial seizure which may involve complex movement, grasps from the thighs, automative repetitive movements – all these are shown in Grand Mal. A person’s mouth may pucker. There might be smacking noises. This is easily diagnosed as mental illness but it isn’t and at that point they could refer them to a neurologist, neurology specialty clinic or an Epileptologist who specializes in epilepsy.
N: Okay now, as we wrap up, I’d like to do give our listener an opportunity to get a copy of your book “Epilepsy Memoirs: My Forty-Year Detour.” Where can they get it?
D: That’s in amazon.com in kindle and paperback.
N: Alright, you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, we’ve been listening to some great information on how to recognize epilepsy; and how physicians and other healthcare providers can deal with people who are suffering from epilepsy; and also how to keep fit with nothing too strenuous involved in keeping yourselves fit – keeping your muscle toned as an epileptic and not running the risk of hurting yourself in the gym or doing very extensive exercises. It’s been great having you here with us today, Don.
D: We’ll thank you much.
N: Thank you. Audio of this program is available at hpr.fm and also at healthprofessionalradio.com.au.