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Karl Krimson

Epilepsy Care Group Singapore Awareness Association: More patients cope with diagnosis of epilepsy


As he was growing up, Paul Shaffer sometimes froze in his tracks and felt like he was walking away from his body.


He did not tell anyone about the sensation, which usually passed quickly: “Who would believe me?”


It was not until he was in his 20s and convulsions knocked him out of his chair at work that a doctor told him he had epilepsy and he was having seizures. Still Shaffer, now 54, did not do anything about it until years later when he crashed his car and his wife insisted on a proper assessment and treatment.


It’s not uncommon for epilepsy to go undiagnosed and untreated for years. Doctors don’t always recognize it or don’t want to label the condition. Because it can be stigmatized, patients don’t always accept the diagnosis, even as the condition wreaks havoc on their lives.


But researchers are discovering that epilepsy affects far more people than ever thought. About 3.4 million Americans, including about 59,900 Marylanders, had epilepsy in 2015 - a 25 percent jump in about five years, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


While the CDC could not fully explain the rise in cases, attributing it partly to population growth, officials at the Epilepsy Foundation and others say there is no doubt that the numbers reflect a far more thorough accounting of people with the condition.


“We don’t have the equivalence of a pregnancy test, a yes or no,” said Dr. Jennifer Hopp, a neurologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center who leads the center where Shaffer is being treated. “There is a comprehensive evaluation that needs to be done. And every patient is a little different.”


Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes any kind of seizure, from convulsions to staring to confused behavior. The condition can stem from strokes, head injuries, infections or genetic mutations, and is diagnosed when someone has two unprovoked seizures or one seizure but is likely to have more.


Seizures often frighten sufferers and people who witness them, perpetuating the stigma, said Patricia Osborne Shafer, the Epilepsy Foundation’s senior director of health information and resources and epilepsy clinical nurse specialist in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in Boston.


“People fear the word epilepsy,” said Shafer, who did not know until college that she had the condition because doctors only told her she had a seizure disorder, perhaps cutting her off from resources that were available. “This feeds into why people may not know or haven’t been told they have it.”

Investing Tips: Create your Short-Term Savings Plan Today

Do you have extra cash for emergencies? A fund ready to be used in case unexpected expenses suddenly occurs?

Unfortunate circumstances do happen, we cannot predict what the future holds so it is always best to be prepared. This is why having a readily available fund is essential so we could deal with what life may bring. But how do we actually make great money in a short period of time?

Follow these simple steps to help you set goals and take steps towards creating a short-term bundle of cash immediately.

Step 1: First is to estimate the amount you spent for yourself and your family on a monthly basis. How much will you be spending in a month from basic needs (food, mortgage payment, electric bills, transportation costs, etc.) to other expenses?

Step 2: In the event of losing a job – Heaven forbid that to happen, how much money will you need while looking for a new job? The amount you need to add up depends on your estimated job hunting expense and how long you expect to be looking for work.

Are you done computing? If yes, then you finally have the amount of money you need to stash in your emergency savings account.

Step 3: Think of other cash expenses you needed other than what stated above. What else? Renovation of the house? Dental check-ups of the children? Maternity check-up? An out of the country trip perhaps?

These things are non-emergency expenses but you can still add this future plans on your short term savings account too.

Step 4: Once you settled every little detail, come up with how much money you are willing to allot to reach the amount you calculated. Consider this as one of the “must pay expenses”. Remember, emergency expenses happen unexpectedly and it won’t wait until you’re convenient.

Prioritize your emergency savings so that when unexpected situation happens, you have a stash of cash ready to be used.

Step 5: Park your money somewhere that you’ll quickly get your hands on it. That is why it is called emergency fund savings.

Here are some:

• High yield savings accounts

• Money market accounts

Money market mutual funds

Liquid investments such as a certificate of deposit (CD) which offers a better interest rate on your money would fit for those non-emergency expenses you list a while ago.

Step 6: Do research to avoid online fraud and compare various investment types over the internet. Bankrate.com and iMoneyNet will help you on the best national rates and money market funds.

Determine the following:

• Available interest rates

• Time frame applied to the rates

• Relative returns for equal time frames

• Fees for purchasing and maintaining the investment

• Minimum investment required for a particular interest rate

Emergencies happen, it is like a thief that strikes when you least expect them. It is important to act now and start your emergency savings account today. Saving today can help you avoid borrowing a great amount of money in the future and will prevent from having future debts.

If you aren't a fan of saving then you can talk to your employer for possible automatic deduction or transfer of an amount from your regular account to your short-term savings account.