Secondary School Assembly material.
You may know that the month of July is named after Julius Caesar, the Roman leader who lived just over 2000 years ago. Julius Caesar was a popular leader who brought in many reforms. One thng he reformed was the Roman calendar and our own calendar is based almost entirely on his system. This month used to be called Quintilis. That just means the fifth month. The Roman year began in March so that July, or Quintilis, would be the fifth month. But the Romans decided to change the name of Quintilis to July in honour of Julius Caesar.whose own birthday was in July. We think it was on 12 July.
But I wonder whether you knew that Caesar had a medical problem. He had epilepsy.
Many other people - ordinary ones and very great ones - have had epilepsy.
What this means is that sometimes, often quite suddenly, they have a seizure. This is simply a warning sign that the brain is, briefly, not working properly. Just for a few moments the pattern of acitivity in their brain changes. You might think of our brains as like an electrical system with very complex circuitry. Sometimes something causes a malfunction or short-circuit. That is when people have a seizure.
When this happens people's minds go blank for a few moments. Sometimes they fall down. In Shakespeare's play about Julius Caesar, Caesar's medical condition is called "the falling sickness".
Epilepsy is very common. Sometimes it is the result of an accident which leaves a tiny scar somewhere in the brain. But doctors still don't always know exactly what causes the seizure or where the short-circuit is happening.
Epilepsy is not like measles or mumps. It is not something you can catch off other people. Sadly it is unlike measles or mumps in another way. It is not something you can quickly get over although sometimes it can be cured by very delicate surrgery. Most people who have epilepsy will have it for the whole of their lives.
Perhaps we don't talk about epilepsy enough. Those of us who have it, or who have friends or relatives with epilepsy, will know that it is just another medical condition like asthma or diabetes. People who have it are usually in every other way just like anyone else.
Sometimes, because we are ignorant about it, we can be worried when someone has a seizure. This may be because it can happen very suddenly and we are not sure what to do. But those of you who have taken a first-aid course, or whohave friends or relatives with epilepsy, will be much more confident. You will know that you should not panic or fuss, you should just make sure that the person is in quite safe. Let a teacher know what has happened. If someone has fallen down, gently try to turn the person onto his or her side. Stay close by and offer reassurance when he or she has come round again.
Some thoughtless people can be very unkind to those who have epilepsy or to people with other conditions that they do not have themselves. This is just "not on"! Instead we need to to work out what we can do to make sure that those of us who have epilepsy have, wherever possible just as happy lives, just as much fun and just the same chances as everyone else.
Julius Caesar had a very full and very adventurous life. He was once captured by pirates but managed to escape and then capture them. He was a soldier. He was also a writer and finally a political leader.

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