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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation > Seizures at Sea?
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Thread: Seizures at Sea? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
12-24-2009 09:16 PM
hellosailor Tigger, you need to get a full medical workup and find out what kind of seizure it was, and whether it is something that can be kept under control with meds, or something that is likely to happen again.

If it is something like a TIA, a heart problem or epileptic problem, the big question is, if you can't be 100% certain that you can prevent it from recurring, are you willing to endanger yourself and others? This might be a lifechanger, i.e. a doctor might say "Cash in your drivers license" or it might be something way less likely and way more controllable.

But you've got to know what it is, and whether it will be repeated or controlled, before you can really decide what's appropriate. Then you decide how much risk you're willing to take.
12-24-2009 08:05 PM
Superpickle What do you mean by "seizure"
Did you just Pass out, or did you have a Full blown Grand Mall ?
I am an Epoleptic, and fully plan on Sailing Alone at times.. All is under control with Meds..
do you take Meds ?

ie, Dilanten
Oxcarbazipene ??

Paul :-D
12-23-2009 12:59 AM
jrmdive
seizure recovery

Your continuation of sailing with a seizure disorder (and one instance a disorder does not necessarily make, see your MD) is your personal decision. However, as a pre-hospital type, I have a few recommendations...

Brief all crew members prior to leaving the dock. A gentle explanation of what might happen, along with a mild exhortation not to panic. Also, try to dissuade them from trying silly things they have either heard or seen on TV. The last thing you want if you actually do have a seizure is for someone to shove a stick/sheet/winch handle in your mouth. Tell them not to restrain you, but to make sure you don't hit yourself on anything (and there's lots to brain yourself with on a sailboat, without seizing, as I rather frequently demonstrate).

I think the biggest issue (besides crew panic) is post seizure in the postictal state. I've seen people do the strangest things, and they're often combative. The only effective treatment is time and oxygen. So you might consider getting a scrip from your doc for O2, or snagging a setup from DAN (the diving folk) or similar. Perhaps even take an O2 provider course through one of the dive agencies. Then a quick orientation to the crew on where it is, and how to use it.

A seizure doesn't have to be treated like a medical emergency every time. I'd be very hesitant to call "mayday" for a seizure if I knew the person had a history of seizure. Talk to your MD, and perhaps set a duration of seizure to trigger an emergency response. That way, if you seize for (as a totally random example) more than two minutes, then upgrade the episode to emergency status, and activate EMS (more than likely the Coast Guard). Everyone has to make their own assessment, but for me the risks of evacuation (by air or even boat to boat) far outweigh the risks of the seizure. In addition, where I am in southern CA, it takes at least 20 minutes for the Coast Guard to spin up a helo and get to us, longer in a response boat. By then you will have more than likely made a full recovery (hopefully accelerated by the above mentioned O2 kit).

All these decisions are personal to you, but it's good that you're planning in advance.

JRM
12-07-2009 05:29 PM
eherlihy If you are worried about the potential for another seizure while single handing, I would suggest purchasing a handheld VHF, or RAM Mike to a fixed mount VHF, that has DSC Capability. If you feel one coming on press the distress button. Help, if it is within radio range, will be on the way.
12-07-2009 04:04 PM
ArcherBowman I'd not give up sailing or single handing if it was me. I'm watching my father die by inches at the moment, with most of his dreams unfulfilled.

So I'm going to carpe some diems while I still can. That's going to mean some risk. But it's up to you. Doing it my way could get you killed.

Captain Bill
September Blue
11-21-2009 02:28 PM
mintcakekeith Pan Pan medico woul probably work best in Scottish waters if help needed.Cell phone coverage is eratic at best.K
11-18-2009 02:37 PM
blt2ski Lived with peti-mal Epilepsy from age 6 until now! got off meds at 18. Did a few things docs told me not to, ie ran xcountry and track. Did some mtn climbing later, ie after 18......Used to get in trouble ALL the time in elementry school reading. I had 1-2 sec seizures, so I had them at times in the middle of sentences, was told I put a period/comma pause in the middle.....yee haw! of course I argured.....off to principles office I went. Even after diagnosis, teacher was told, and meds starting working......

Anyway, I solo sailed as a teen in Lake Washington, still on drugs, Ran when EEG tests showed heavy breathing was a typical cause, ie lack of Oxygen to brain in strenuous activity........ You learn to deal with it.

I was told I could not climb Rainer as a teen, made it age 24, along with Adams, baker and a few other locals that I thought I would never do. Keep your chin up, learn what you can about what caused it. It may have been a food allergy or equal that may never be figured out. or, then again, it could be Epilepsy, diabetes or some other equal style issue.

marty
11-17-2009 12:18 PM
MMR
Prepare, then go!

My hubby has had multiple strokes over the past 5 years (each one milder than the previous one, thankfully), but continues to singlehand.

We work hard not to let fear control our lives; some days we do better than others. But life is for LIVING; waiting for a ax to fall is NOT living. Sailing gives him great joy. I would rather he die from a stroke while sailing, than die sitting at home having never sailed again.

We've made the following preparations:

- He carries a note in his wallet at all times that gives his name, brief medical history, meds he's taking, his doc's name, emergency contact info, etc. If he has a stroke (anywhere, not just sailing) he can pull that out and quickly communicate the emergency (his strokes have impacted his speech)

-he led all lines back to the cockpit, so he does not need to leave the cockpit when singlehanding: if there is a problem with the boat that he cannot handle from the cockpit, he drops sails and comes home.

-he ALWAYS wears a PFD. We are looking at jacklines and tethers.

-he has emergency numbers programmed into his cell phone; when we upgrade our phones, he will program in emergency text messages

We're constantly looking for ways to keep sailing, safely (for him and for those around him who might be impacted by him having a stroke)....
11-17-2009 11:44 AM
pdqaltair
Yes, calling the Coast Guard is a good step, but it can be a cell call.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TiggerToo View Post
Firstly, thanks for such a fantastic response; I haven't used this community to ask for help before and I'm overwhelmed by the speed and number of responses.

I'm still going though tests, CT, MRI scans, etc. Thankfully (a) free here in the UK, (b) all clear so far (no brain tumours).

Thanks for the medical concerns; I'd rather not divert this thread into the medical side, except to say that I'm preparing for the worst, hoping for the best (one of the many lessons I've learned here). My reason for posting was to tap into experience / advice on how it should affect my sailing.

I'm reassured at the majority response that I should take precautions, but not stop sailing. Especially so since I've come to it quite late in life (had never set foot on a yacht until 3 years ago) and it has become a great passion. I acquired my own yacht last year, giving me wonderful freedom. My greatest problem is the 3 hour drive I can't now do to get to it. I was on the brink of single handing, and often drove over alone just to potter (my word, what a lot of pottering there is to be done!).

I'm not sure about the Mayday. I've heard several while at sea, all quite a hoo-haa, whereas I feel there is no need unless I was seriously injured, in which case the MayDay would be due to the injury, rather than the seizure per se. I think it would be prudent however to alert the Coastguard without triggering any action, hence the PanPan plan. I'm happy to hear more advice on this (and ashamed I don't remember exactly what the rules are; and I only got my radio licence last November!).

Once again, thanks so much for the correspondance. This status of complete independence but copious help if you ask for it is one of the great aspects of this sport.

On a lighter note I think it's always best to be frank and tell it like it is - davidpm your seizure appears to have turned you into a dog!

PS the driving regs in the UK allow a return to driving after 6 months from a first and only seizure, or 12 months seizure-free, or 36 months with night-time seizures only.

My wife is a very brittle diabetic, and we have had a few pass-out episodes or similar. We carry basic supplies to deal with this. In each case, if the was weather or navigation issue, or any chance I might need help, I put in a cell phone call to the local station. Keep these numbers on-board.

In one case (she had a medical equipment failure) her condition required me to seek an inlet I knew to be troublesom and poorly marked, and that I might not get there until dark. It was not our intended stop, but it had a pharmacy. I called the CG, gave them a report, and they asked me to report back at certain times. A few minutes later, they called back with the lat/lon of all the channel markers (they shift them due to shifting bars and they are not charted), as well as the locations of 2 that were off-station. Very profesional. We made the inlet at dusk, and I called and thanked them for their help. Much better than doing it all over 16 and 22a. No emergency or undue fuss, just caution.

We still sail a lot and feel it is safe. But I would not go across an ocean with her. It doesn't feel prudent.

She doesn't leave the cockpit much and we leave jacklines set 24/7. Make them out of rope so they can stand the sun.

Sail Delmarva: Search results for jacklines
11-16-2009 08:56 PM
casioqv I think if your doctor thinks you're safe to drive, you should be safe to sail also. Perhaps if you were on an anti-seizure medication, the risk would be low enough for safe sailing?

This has happened to my dad 3 times in his life, and it hasn't stopped him from driving, scuba diving, or boating by himself. The chances of it happening while doing one of these activities is almost zero, especially since he's on anti-seizure medication.

The laws can be horrible though, as many people will lose their jobs if they can't drive to work anymore!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TiggerToo View Post
PS the driving regs in the UK allow a return to driving after 6 months from a first and only seizure, or 12 months seizure-free, or 36 months with night-time seizures only.
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