I’m told that one day, when I was a baby, I had a seizure. Out of nowhere I began shaking uncontrollably, screaming, and biting my tongue severely. My family accepted the doctor’s diagnosis of it merely being an isolated incident with no known cause, and life went on.
I don’t have any specific date of when my seizures decided to pick up again, but I know I was in my teens. They began just as a short, strange feeling in my stomach with slight nausea that blossomed outward throughout my extremities then into and a kind of light pulse in my head. I had no idea what they were, but I didn’t notice any kind of side effect so I disregarded them and chalked them up to malnutrition and the horrible diet I had always been guilty of keeping (mainly cookies and soda).
They continued for years, gradually increasing, occurring in clusters of 5 or more a day for about a week at a time. They also started getting stronger and lasting longer and longer with every cluster. They started to affect my muscles, making my fists clench, teeth grind, and making my legs weak and tingly enough to almost collapse on a number of occasions. It came to be that others started to notice these symptoms, and I was encouraged to ask my family doctor about it. I explained the episodes, but he couldn’t come up with a reason. I was eating a normal diet by then and couldn’t point to my chocolate addiction, so I attributed it to weariness from my late nights studying for my college courses.
Then one night I went to bed at 4 AM, exhausted from finishing up a project, like any number of nights before. I quickly fell asleep, eagerly anticipating the 3 hours of rest I had to look forward to. I awoke confused within an hour to the sight of an EMT opening my eyelids and pointing a flashlight in my face. From there I have very brief, intermittent memories of my ride to the hospital, but I felt like I was in a dream and couldn’t put the pieces together to understand what was going on. I ultimately woke up in a hospital bed, exhausted, confused, in a fair amount of pain, and with family members looking at me. Every one of my muscles seemed to ache and throb from what my wife told me was due to the intense stretching my body was doing at the time; enough to dislocated my shoulder. Despite the extremity of what had happened, the doctors were quick to brush off the incident as the result of “night terrors,” and I was released.
It wasn’t until later, after a second seizure hit me that night, that my ER visit led to my epilepsy diagnosis. The odd sensations and muscle weakness that I was having over the years were actually petit-mal seizures and this last one was an apparent grand-mal seizure.
Since then, it’s been years of meds that have helped stave off both types of seizures, but the meds only worked for a year or so before their effectiveness eventually wore off. The petit-mal seizures slowly started up again and eventually lead to another grand-mal seizure within a few days.
After the last seizure, I was encouraged to endure a week-long stay at the hospital, where electrodes were attached to my head and my every move was monitored. During that time, the two seizures I had led them to discover the precise area of issue and a more specific type of epilepsy was determined.
From there, I have been given two options. The first option is surgery, leading to a guaranteed loss of memory but without a guarantee of the surgery’s effectiveness. The second option is to forego any surgery and stay on meds. This also guarantees an eventual worsening of my memory, along with the continuation of seizures and the probability of them increasing in occurrence and strength.
So, at the encouragement of my family, I am electing to move forward with surgery. I now wait to hear back from the doctors, and I can only hope for the best.