Christmas Came Early: “Shocks” And Surprises


I went to see Escher the other night as he wanted to give me his Christmas presents he bought for me. Did I neglect to tell you that I loathe Christmas? Nothing but unpleasant memories.

I knew he went overboard so I suppose that wasn’t too much of a “surprise.” The first gift was a footie jersey. Yes, PA likes footie. Fine. The second? A bloody stereo with a USB port for my iPod! Oh, god! Now, that is way too much!

He’s pretty much a luddite (although he does have a cellphone) but he likes audio equipment. This system isn’t extremely high end (thank goodness!) but it is quite nice in appearance. It’s a micro system (i.e. not full rack–thank goodness, again.) My flat is ridiculously small, he knows this and a full rack system with all the components would never have fit and would have been beyond obscene in price! It’s all black and silver which suits me as I like simple design and really, not wood grain speakers. And the USB port! He knows that I am basically permanently attached to my iPod. That is so awesome.

I don’t own a proper stereo which is kind of ironic since I am pretty much an audiophile, as well. I’ve managed along with a portable stereo that’s lasted for 15 years! It’s made by Panasonic which has been my staple brand ever since I’ve had it. Excluding the Sennheiser headphones I bought a while back. Panasonic also manufactures Technics products if you didn’t know.

I didn’t think I ever needed anything larger as a stereo since I’ve always lived in flats and it has provided me with enough sound. So yes, I expected him going overboard but not with that much gift giving! *sigh* And he had been being a good boy lately. He had been giving me some space and not calling as much. I’m still not quite sure what to do with him. He is a good friend and we do have fun together but he can still be so draining. And I do quite question his mental stability a lot of the time.

Now here’s the really unexpected–the “shocking” part if you can excuse that, perhaps, terrible reference…

I seized when I was there. And yes, I’m climbing the seizure ladder; I’ve moved up a rung. I think. That’s why it has taken me so long to write this–and post this. I have been researching and researching to try and figure out what happened that night for hours. I’m not sure at this point. Probably up to about four or five hours of research? And I’m still looking at/for things to provide me with something. Do you know what I’ve found in terms of an answer?

I. Have. No. Clue.

At first, I thought it was just another one of my Simple Partials, albeit a different and rather strange one. But Simple Partials are weird. I have had incredible ones. And I guess am still capable of having such an array of them–even though my meds have been controlling them? A lot of “sensory weirdness,” basically. You can read about my Simple Partial history here. You do not have to read this post but if you haven’t already, I suggest that you do as it may help you differentiate between what I normally experience and what happened the other night.

The term “partial,” means that basically the electrical misfiring in your brain is localized or happening in only certain parts of it. This is in opposition to “generalized” seizures where the neuronal misfiring is everywhere and you will always lose total consciousness (e.g. a tonic-clonic seizure.)

Even having had Simple Partials all of my life, I didn’t even know what they were. It wasn’t until I started to take Anticonvulsants for Bipolar and when I read how they were used to treat Epilepsy that I realized…wow! I was shocked (oh dear…I’m using that word again…) When I read about SPs, it was like a total laundry list of signs and symptoms for me. Now, with all seizure activity, there are chances of them getting worse (hence my mention of moving up a rung on the ladder) but since mine never did all of my life, I never cared about having them looked into. It was ex-partner that was really insistent about it.

So Escher and I were just sitting and talking (and having some beer but I wasn’t drunk and alcohol has never made me seize, bar with evil Effexor and that was unconfirmed but presumed.) Anyway, all of the sudden, I stop. And then a few seconds later, Escher hands me a paper towel to wipe the drool from my mouth. If you didn’t read the link above, I have a bit of a “drooling history” with a couple of my seizures. The two gelastic ones I have had and the time when I believed I had epilepsia partialis continua. That is basically one long ass Simple Partial or “going status” or “status epilepticus.” If you read about “epc” that I mentioned above, it sounds more serious but it can happen for other reasons. If you go status with a Generalized Seizure of even a Complex Partial–you pretty much need emergency medical intervention as your consciousness is more impaired if not gone altogether (i.e. a Complex Partial.) I did go to hospital for this but rotted away until someone saw me. It was hours later and had pretty much resolved itself–about six to seven hours it took in total.

Now, for what really happened with Escher. Since I thought it rather odd as it wasn’t like my previous Simple Partials where my mind and consciousness is always in tact, something didn’t seem right with this one. There was a brief “blackout” of sorts. My neurologist always told me it was extremely valuable that if someone ever witnessed me having a seizure, get their account because if your consciousness is impaired in any way, you may not be able to or can not provide an accurate description of what occurred.

I called Escher and asked him what went on. Whoa. Not at all as I “remembered?” And after this, I worked my brain hard to go over it…is there…was there anything else I can remember about it?

Apparently, I only remembered the beginning and the ending of it and even that is very vague and fuzzy. When it started (and this I had to work to recall later) my vision changed. This is very difficult to describe but I found a near perfect description on an Epilepsy website. Everything went kind of “swirly” and became distorted. Things darkened and then blackness. My vision was just gone. And so was I.

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. My eyes were blank and I was just staring off into space. And yes, I was drooling. Escher was speaking to me but I was non-responsive. He said he gently touched my legs just above the knee but I was non-responsive to tactile stimuli as well. I asked him if I was doing any “automatisms.” These are basically, any repetitive movements that generally don’t serve any purpose and some can be downright bizarre. They are very common with Complex Partial Seizures. He said that I wasn’t. Alright. So, apparently when it was “all over,” I asked him for something to wipe my mouth with. I do not remember this. Again, all I remember is him giving it to me and saying, “Here.” I also don’t remember any kind of a post-“ick”tal© state (your ictal state being the seizure itself.) I’ve looked into that and memory loss can happen there too.

And here’s the kicker. It lasted, he said, about two to three minutes. That’s spot on for a Complex Partial.

During a Simple Partial Seizure, you can always talk to me and I can always talk back to you. My consciousness may be just the tiniest bit altered but not even so much that I have tried to time my seizures. In my estimation, they have never lasted past 45 seconds.

So basically, the impaired/loss of consciousness, the inability to respond to any stimuli, the complete memory loss and the time duration all fit for a Complex Partial.

A lot of the literature out there really pushes the automatisms of which I had none. However, I did find a study where several of the research participants had none. Plus they had decreased postural tone so they may have gotten a bit floppy or couldn’t move like me. Also, many of them reported having no “aura” as is what a Simple Partial can be or is also know as. It can serve as a warning sign that a “bigger” seizure is coming. I do not know if the visual changes I experienced was an aura or part of the seizure itself. It could have been one or the other?

Good grief, I even found a study where photic seizures (seizures induced by light/s) can induce a vegetative Simple Partial! But it didn’t go into detail. How long? And photic seizures have never been confirmed with me. During the strobe with my EEG–nothing. But EEGs are notoriously unreliable. They can be consistently negative even in people with intractable Epilepsy.

Another thing that I looked into is if this could be a “Psychogenic Seizure.” Some people refer to these as “Pseudoseizures.” Most people do not like this term as it sounds like they are not “real” or that they may be faking them. The “pseudo” part probably comes from the fact that they do not occur due to electrical discharges in the brain. They are caused by stress and psychological factors. Did Escher stress me out so much I had a seizure?

Well, I suppose I can’t rule anything out at this point. However, some problems with this? It is estimated that between 10-50 per cent of people with Epilepsy can have Psychogenic Seizures as well. I see. They can resemble just about any type of seizure (considering anyone with Epilepsy can have them) but they are generally known to have very specific types of characteristics–none of which I exhibited. However, again…I think it’s safe to say at this point, there are no absolutes in the brain department?

Let’s move on to Migraines! It has long been thought that there are connections between Migraines and seizures. They can look like them, possibly cause them? I looked into that as well and nope. Nothing fit. And I wasn’t even near Migraine territory that night. In fact, daily painy-head seems to be getting better? I don’t feel as bad as before. Either that or I’m just getting used to having small headaches all the time? I think it might be the former? I’m not sure but I’m still monitoring. Maybe I just needed a good Complex Partial to shake my brain up to get rid of the headaches *laughing*

So, I guess I need to talk to my neuro about this. I don’t want to. I have very good reason for that. I don’t want to blog about the reason. I have very good reason for that as well. If it was just another transient, isolated Simple Partial, I wouldn’t bother. But since this is something different, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t say something.

Complex Partials are really something you shouldn’t play around with. Just because I was sitting down and immobile doesn’t mean if I have another one, it would be the same. When other people have them, they can be walking around, doing all sorts of things… If you lose consciousness, you are in danger. It is also very much believed that once you start having Complex Partials, that is now your course. They will re-occur if you continue to seize. It may not mean that you will not have (or I will not have) Simple Partials but they may be auras to the Complex or they may be “stand alones” as they were before. Or like that study–you may not get an aura and–bang! Plus, Complex Partials of course can then take you on to tonic-clonic Seizures.

Indeed, the aim would be to control it all with medication and I have been seizure free for quite a while. I’m still just wondering what on earth happened. And I’m still researching. I should just stop. But in a lot of cases I have a one track mind and that track is long and straight. The freighter just keeps barreling along at top speed and even if the track curved there would be no one there to work the switch.

The majority of the things above I already knew…I was just (and still am?) looking for something that described exactly what I went through. But one thing I didn’t know that really surprised me was this. I found it in published research and on a lot of Epilepsy websites as well. The way to distinguish an Epileptic Seizure from a Psychogenic Seizure is if the person’s eyes are open. If they’re not; it’s Psychogenic.

Mine were open the other night and always have been with each and every Simple Partial.

Well, congratulations if you got through all of this. I’ll be sure to let everyone know how it goes when I see my neuro at the end of January…or if I seize again?

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  1. Firstly – Great Alanis song.
    “It must be strangely exciting to watch the stoic squirm”

    That is a cool present, but maybe a little excessive. But that is Escher’s choice.

    Sorry to hear about the seizures. Always found the nomenclature difficult to get my head around – not so now. Hope the appt with the neuro is helpful and that you remain seize-free til then. If not hit me up for some WD40. Also as a “oh,wow, that’s pretty interesting” there is some speculation that bipolar maybe on the epilepsy spectrum

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  2. Hi exactscience, glad you’re still liking the tunes!

    Yes, Escher…what can you do, eh?

    I’m happy to provide some insight into the “seizure world” and explain. There are other types too and just so much more. It’s quite a subject. I do find it rather fascinating.

    Yes, we’ll see how neuro goes. And indeed, you are right that there is speculation about Bipolar and Epilepsy but that’s also a real toughie, too. It’s kind of an interesting connection because of the usage of ACs for Bipolar but again…nothing conclusively “proven” so what do you say? The only thing that is out there is comorbidity rates.

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  3. TLE has various types of seizures associated with it.

    Simple Partial
    Simple Partial Seizures (SPS) involve small areas of the temporal lobe and do not affect consciousness. These are seizures which primarily cause sensations. These sensations may be mnestic such as déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity), a specific single or set of memories, or amnesia. The sensations may be auditory such as a sound or tune, or gustatory such as a taste, or olfactory such as a smell that is not truly present. Sensations can also be visual or involve feelings on the skin or in the internal organs. The latter feelings may seem to move over the body. Dysphoric or euphoric feelings, fear, anger, and other sensations can also occur during SPS. Often, it is hard for persons with SPS of TLE to describe the feeling. SPS are often called “auras,” and are sometimes thought to be preludes to actual seizures. The latter is incorrect. SPS are seizures.

    The experiences in simple partial seizures are similar to those experienced in mania- for example, hallucinations, dysphoria and euphoria, fear and anger.

    Stolen from Seaneen over here http://thesecretlifeofamanicdepressive.wordpress.com/2007/08/06/is-bipolar-disorder-a-form-of-epilepsy/

    Because she has written it better than I ever could

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  4. tracy

    wow, PA, sorry to hear about what happened…about 6 years ago, i had 3 “full seizures” and they were scary…not just the waking up from it all and not knowing what happened, but knowing what will happen next..losing driving priviledges,all the testing, etc…”they” never did find out what caused them, as is the case in about 85% i hear…”idopathic”…i think at least two were alcohol withdrawl/Xanax+Welbutrin+bulimia caused, but what do i know…? Anyhow, i hope you will be okay and wish you could get to the Neuro sooner, to find out whay is happening..
    meanwhile, please take care of yourself hon, tracy

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  5. Hi exactscience, sorry for the delay–to both you and tracy actually. I ate something bad and got knocked out for a bit.

    I see you’ve been doing some research? That’s an interesting post.

    Now, the poster says indeed, look beyond Wiki from where she quoted the information about Simple Partials. It is rather small. I do link to Wiki quite a bit as it is a good resource to start with and explain things rather cleanly and concisely but that snippet about Simple Partials–well only a snippet. And the further link to Simple Partials says that they are subjective–as are all seizures. And the mention of the temporal lobe? Nope…not exclusively. Depending upon what you are experiencing at the time, that is the lobe that is experiencing the misfiring.

    For example, with my gelastic seizures that would be considered Simple Partials because I had not lost consciousness–had it simply altered–(actually, never lost consciousness with any Simple Partials as I already stated…) it has been seen or “suggested” that it is a combination of both the frontal and the temporal cortices and possibly something else ticking along with the limbic system as that is (also presumed) the seat of emotion, drive etc…

    For most things considered visual, things are happening in the occipital lobe. Parietal lobe seizures are more rare and can overlap a bit with some occipital things as vision is involved but they are sensory in processing–not so much in the “psychic” manner of deja vu, DP/DR etc… but more in “feelings” of your body–numbness, pressure, pain, temperature. But sometimes, they can just occur in the parietal lobe alone.

    Simple Partials in the frontal lobe may manifest in motor movements but not exclusively. However, typically in this manner they will be minor motor “jerks” called myoclonus–I had these too at points but they were less common and may have been markers that my seizure threshold was simply lowering…or they could have been brief Simple Partials as well as they would last for several seconds.

    Simple Partials happening in the temporal lobe involve mostly all of the “sensory weirdness” I mentioned above. The deja vu, jamais vu, micro/macrosomatognosia…all of that and that is just me.

    Now, just to make things a little more fun, imagine when you are experiencing some of these in concert. The neurons are sending their signals and down the axons to the dendrites and trying to connect and oops! And oops! And all of the lobes are popping away… They’re all connected too–the lobes. This has happened to me. It’s not like I’ve experienced each symptom as a singular event each time.

    Now, I could go on and on and so could neurologists and researchers but the bottom line is–no one knows what causes Epilepsy and Bipolar or ADD or…well anything? There have been some neurological findings that are obvious on MRIs such as lesions/tumours etc… regarding Epilepsy. But as far as negative MRIs? Cause deemed idiopathic: No known cause or origin. And I already stated that EEGs are notoriously unreliable. You actually have to “catch the seizure in action.” But you need to do the test anyway.

    And to say that Simple Partials are not auras? I do disagree on that point but yes, they are also seizures on their own.

    Yes, there has long been thought to be a connection between Bipolar and Epilepsy. Absolutely. Ditto with Migraines. In fact, the comorbidity rates for both are quite significant to not overlook it. And yes, you do have the issue that Anticonvulsants are used to treat Bipolar–and Migraines.

    However, where does that leave us? Only with hypotheses. I would say that due to the fact that seizure patterns have manifested themselves in so may predictable ways over the past, they have been established. In terms of Bipolar, it can manifest itself in so many more a myriad of ways. That is not to say that there still is not a link. I feel though, that at this point, it would be too far a leap to say that there is any solid link between the two, any causal relationship either–not yet?

    Hi tracy, good to see you. Indeed, idiopathic if they can’t find any biological/neurological findings. With my gelastic seizures there is a known neurological finding (a hypothalamic hamartoma–basically a benign growth on your hypothalamus that you have from an early age.) Of course it never showed up on my MRI or I would have mentioned it on my blog.

    And as a final note…hmmm…the hypothalamus involved in a Simple Partial…again…lots of things to consider in Epilepsy/seizures. Our brains are complicated and almost very foreign territory to us.

    Take care guys,
    PA

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  6. Thanks for the reply, just a thought stuck in my mind as my EEG approaches. Hurrah.

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  7. Hey exactscience, you are most welcome! Let me know if you have any more questions. I’m always happy to blather on as you know *laughing*

    I strongly suspect that I may have another one coming up too…? I can’t say for sure but my hunch is because this was so different from what I have experienced in the past, my neuro might want to run the gamut again of another EEG and MRI.

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  1. 1 Neuro Update: Here We Go Again! « Patient Anonymous: Just Another Head Case

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