*While medical authorities are technically attributing Teena Marie’s death to natural causes, there is little doubt that a grand mal seizure played a significant contributing role in her death Sunday.
Born Mary Christine Brockert, the sensational white soul singer had suffered a grand mal seizure approximately ten days ago.
Also known as a tonic-clonic seizure, a grand mal involves violent muscle contractions and a loss of consciousness. It is indeed what most people mentally picture when they hear the word “seizure.” Generally, a grand mal seizure is triggered by other health problems ranging from extremely low blood sugar to epilepsy. Risk factors include heavy alcohol or drug use.
In Teena Marie’s case, little is publicly known except that she had an ongoing battle with prescription drug use over the past few years. However, authorities at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota tell us it is perfectly possible to have a grand mal seizure once and never have one again. The seizure may last for five minutes or more and be followed by a period of disorientation.
Mayo Clinic experts, who are widely considered the best in the country at handling seizures, say if a person is having a grand mal seizure immediately call for medical help, gently roll them onto their side and put something soft under their head. However, the “don’ts” include “do not try to restrain them” and “do not put anything in their mouth.” The notion that a person having a seizure may swallow his or her tongue is simply not true. The tongue cannot be swallowed.
A key to survival appears to be what occurs immediately after the seizure. It could be followed by a second seizure. This is one reason that medical care should be sought as soon as possible.