seizure disorder

The Life of an Epileptic

In my last post, I talked about the depression I experienced, and how it was as a result of the seizures I was having. This post, I want to go over seizures and how they work. And share my side of the story, of what it was like having them.

I was diagnosed with Epilepsy during my junior year of high school. And just in case you didn’t know, Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. Basically, there are electrical signals in the brain that control the body. Seizures occur when those signals become overactive. Depending on the part of the brain that’s affected, different parts of the body may convulse—or some may not convulse at all. I, however, had tonic-clonic seizures, which are the “stereotypical” type of seizure that most people think of when they imagine them. My full body convulses, I bite my tongue, and sometimes I lose control of my bladder (which is really embarrassing, let me tell you). People that experience tonic-clonic siezures (more commonly known as “grand mal” seizures) are unconscious during the seizure, and don’t remember it when they wake up. Some seizures can last a couple of minutes, others can go on for days and days.

As for me, I wake up with absolutely no recollection of what had just happened. All I know is I’m in pain, my mouth is bleeding, and my pants are wet. But like most people that arouse from a toni-clonic seizure, I wake up disoriented and scared.

In fact, I still remember the aftereffects of my first seizure. I woke up confused, exhausted, and surrounded. Unknown faces peered down at me. The sky was white and lumpy. Frantic walls panicked all around me. My mind reeled with explanations of where I was, what had happened. But I didn’t understand; I was so confused. All I knew, all that I could comprehend, was that I hurt. My head, my eyes, my tongue. My legs, my shoulders, my arms. Everything hurt.

I remember peering around, trying to make sense of it all. But where was I? Who were these people? What was I doing there? I didn’t know anything. The last thing I remember were cold hands on my face as I slipped to a deep sleep.

Tonic-clonic seizures are strenuous and draining. Most people sleep at least 5 hours after a seizure. Some even sleep up to 22 hours afterwards. Confusion is normal upon awakening. Some people don’t know who they are, who the president is, or even what year they’re in. It can take up to a couple months to heal from a single seizure.

I had many repercussions from all my seizures; my body couldn’t keep up, and I lost a lot of strength. I couldn’t open doors or even pick up my dog. It was a pretty low period in my life.

Luckily, though, I have been on a medication called Keppra for over a year now, and have thankfully had no breakthroughs. I’ve slowly regained my strength and am leading a pretty normal life, my thoughts of my past seizures almost forgotten.

A seizure is a weird phenomenon. To be honest, I don’t really understand seizures, even though I’ve personally experienced multiple. If you or someone you know has ever experienced a seizure, here’s a sort of “guide” in what to do when they have one:

  • Do not hold the person down or try to restrain them
  • Do not stick your hand in their mouth (it’s a myth that they will swallow their tongue)
  • Make sure they don’t crash into sharp objects
  • Cushion head and make sure they don’t smash their head against anything
  • After the seizure is over, turn them onto their side (many people will vomit or bit their tongue, so this is to prevent any choking on their own vomit or blood)
  • If a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or if this is their first seizure, call 911

Just in case you’re curious, here’s a video of what tonic-clonic (or grand-mal) seizures look like. This person was brave enough to share his video; let’s not make fun of him. But be warned: it’s graphic.

Advertisements