Tag Archives: Epilepsy

The Story Of My 3 Grand Mal Seizures, 5 Day Amnesia, And Epilepsy Diagnosis

It has been over 2 weeks since I have made a post, and for good reason too. Some of you have seen my last post about me being in the emergency room. I actually posted that and don’t have any memory of it. In that post, it says that about 36 hours of my memory were lost, well, it actually was more… I just didn’t know it at the time. I have virtually zero memory of almost everything from January 15th, and it gradually gets better and better as time goes on. My memory right now is still not up to par but there were about 4-5 days where I have no memory, or just fragments of various random instances. This will be a relatively long post, so brace yourself if you choose to keep reading, it is the full account of what happened to me. Most of which I have no memory of, it’s just based off what I have been told. Also, if my diction is hard to read, it’s probably because my brain is still a little scrambled and the fact I am on some pretty powerful drugs… the neurologist says it should improve.

January 15th, a Saturday, I slept in and woke up feeling like I had run a marathon, I was exhausted. All I remember is waking up, going to the bathroom, getting some food, and that’s it. Apparently, around 4 pm, my Chinese roommate heard me scream briefly and then heard a thump. At which point he came to my room and saw me laying face into the floor violently shaking from head to toe. Full body convulsions, and I wasn’t responding. Logan had come straight from China and wasn’t too familiar with 911 and my other roommates weren’t in the apartment. He said my face was turning blue and I was having a hard time breathing. He called my other roommate, Christian, without a response… to my luck, he was just walking in the door with his girlfriend who is a soon to be Registered Nurse. By this time Logan is freaking out. He grabs Christian and his girlfriend tells him what to do, ‘lay him on his side, get a pillow, remove all hard objects from the area’ as his girlfriend Ashley calls 911.

Christian was holding my hand trying to get a response out of me as I continued convulsing and Logan began to pray for my life as Ashley waited for the Ambulance outside. According to Christian and Logan, I was foaming at the mouth and blood was coming out of my mouth and nose. My eyes were also dilated so much that they were completely black. Grand Mal seizures are when neurons in your brain are firing randomly and out of control throughout your entire body… this caused my tongue and jaw to tense incredibly fast resulting in me biting pieces out of my tongue. I also had to-the-muscle rug burns on both my feet, my arms and my face. I tore my rotator cuff in my right arm and I keep partially dislocating it if I am not careful.

Okay, back to the story. Once the EMTs arrived I had stopped seizing but was still unconscious and hard to breath. Slowly I came to but was still not responsive. The paramedics helped me to the stretcher where they took me down the elevator and out to the ambulance. What is interesting is that during the State of the Union Address, a memory I hadn’t had was triggered from that night. I remember hearing somebody call my name saying “Can you hear me?” and then asking me, “Who is the President of the United States” and “Where are you right now”? I also remember not being able to answer. I also don’t know who it was that was asking me those questions. I am assuming it was inside the ambulance.

Christian followed me to the hospital in his car while Logan stayed back to answer the questions of the police. When I was in the ER and he was talking to the doctors I went into another seizure while on the stretcher. The nurse then asked if I was kidding… which was kind of wrenching when Christian told me that she asked him this. HELL NO I WASN’T KIDDING!

I was injected with several milligrams of Ativan, a very high potency sedative… normally only about 0.5 mg is needed. At which point I had multiple IVs going into my body with various fluids and during all this they had contacted my parents who were 5 hours away telling them I had been ambulanced to the ER but that was all they could say due to the HIPAA laws. So they were freaking out and frantically packing for an unknown number of days and had to drive 5 hours without any information as to what was wrong with me.

Once stabilized, I was placed into the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital where I was still hooked up to all sorts of monitoring machines. I had multiple XRays, EEGs, MRIs, CT scans going where they found out I also have a bad case of pneumonia. The EEG showed abnormal brain waves that coincided with my diagnosis. While in the ICU, people were finding out about what had happened and calling, texting or facebooking me and apparently I was responding and having full conversations with them… I just have absolute zero memory of it. People also visited me and fortunately I only remember them showing up, but that’s about it. As far as the multi-hour conversations, nada.

After my condition was deemed safe for me to leave the ICU, I was wheel-chaired over to the recovery room where I stayed in a bed for a couple more days. Sorry if my lack of timescale is annoying, for me, most of this isn’t a memory just an account of what happened. I ended up being in the hospital for somewhere around 4 days, not entirely sure though.

My parents were in town for all that I remember because I don’t have the memory of them arriving, just the memory of them randomly being there. It’s sort of hard to explain my amnesia because at the time in the hospital I could tell people what was going on but as time went by, I couldn’t tell them what happened. The best way I can explain it is to say that I knew why I was in the hospital but not how. Almost impossible to think that, but that’s just how it feels.

Once released, I ended up spending about a week with my parents in hotels just to be monitored and to recover. I say hotel(s) because we didn’t know how long my parents needed to stay and since we were using Priceline, we were skipping from hotel to hotel.

All but 1 of my classes was dropped for the semester and I kept not a single problem solving course… which is difficult to say seeings how my major is Aerospace Engineering. The single course is philosophy and it’s just so I can maintain student status and continue with my student loans. I have also been diagnosed by an epileptologist with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. Normally it is shown first in young children but because I have always been healthy, it has taken this long to show itself. I have had it all my life and will always have it until I die.

What are the life changing ramifications? Well, for starters I will be on a black box drug the rest of my life. I can’t drink alcohol. I can no longer be in the Air Force or now join any other military branch. It is illegal for me to fly a plane for the rest of my life, this is something I have been doing and been a dream of mine. It is also a required class in my major to fly a plane so I am unsure if I can graduate now because of it. I can’t swim unless heavily supervised and not in choppy water. I cannot drive for 6 months seizure free. 1 of the 3 big sports that I can no longer do is mountaineering, which has been a set life dream of mine (here). My trip to Mt. Rainier this summer has since been canceled. I could keep going but it’s just not healthy to.

It is weird because in both these posts I link below, I talk about things that involve what has now happened just days later. In a recent post I talk about how life is like a train, always moving in a general direction and it’s hard to slow or stop unless something massive derails it… well, my train was just derailed and it’s going to take my life into a total new direction and it will take a while to get it going again. http://iantimberlake.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/why-free-will-makes-your-life-pre-destined/

Also, ironically, I recently posted about the benefits of coconut. Just a week before my seizures I added coconut into my regular diet and on the list of things it helps prevent is epileptic seizures.  http://iantimberlake.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/what-is-the-healthiest-thing-in-the-world-to-eat-that-is-also-a-medicine/

Life throws you screw balls and you just have to learn how to deal with them. This one was a big one for me and will/has changed my life until the day I die. You just need to learn how to manage and roll with it because the alternative is completely unacceptable and just not fun. To be clear, I am the same person now as I was 1 month ago with the exception that I now am informed of the condition I have had all my life. The worst thing is the paranoia in knowing something could happen at any moment and I won’t know it while it’s happening. Thank goodness it just didn’t first happen while I was driving or swimming or alone or I would surely be dead.

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