It’s Electrifying

Some of you may have read, “And The World Goes Sideways”a post I made on what it is like to experience a Simple Partial seizure. Today, I’m writing about the other types of seizures I experience, and the aftermath.

When I experience a Partial Complex seizure, I have no idea anything is wrong. If you ask me a question, I’m unaware my responses are slow. I might even think I’ve answered you already and just stare at you. Then I’ll argue with you that I just answered you, I’m quite fine, what’s wrong with you? Ask anyone who’s seen me go into one – while I’m still conscious, I’ve quite the attitude.

This last seizure I had, no one was interacting with me. I was alone, at a computer, taking a certification exam. I remember sitting at the computer answering questions. I remember looking at the timer on the computer. I don’t remember three hours passing; it didn’t seem like that much time had passed. I do remember panicking that I’d only answered 20 questions in that amount of time. I vaguely remember talking to the receptionist when I walked in. I don’t remember parking my car, but not remembering things is most likely due to the seizure activity itself.  In hindsight, I can see where I must have felt like I was in a vacuum because remembering everything seems like the events are filtered through a vacuum. It’s almost like remembering a dream, but I know it really happened. Then I black out – there is this space where I remember nothing. That, of course, is where my seizure progressed from a simple partial into a partial complex and I lost consciousness.

The after affects are … frustrating.

When one experiences full convulsions like that; well, it’s an electrical storm going on in your brain. Overall, you just feel “fuzzy”. There’s no other way to describe it. For a few days, you feel out of touch, maybe like you’re coming down with something, or over-medicated. It also affects your short term memory. I generally lose events from the previous couple of days. I have to go through my calendar and my “to-do” lists and figure out what really got done. I have to figure out if I made any appointments or not. I have to, essentially, recreate the past couple of days, just to be sure I don’t drop a ball or double-book myself.

And yes, it’s a scary feeling. It does cross my mind, “What if I wake up from one of these and don’t remember my husband? Or my kid? Or who I am?” I have to push that thought aside and just not think about it. If I allow myself to dwell on such thoughts, I’ll drive myself crazy. Sometimes, it’s healthy to take the Scarlett O’Hara approach to a situation. So I’ll just think about that tomorrow.

I was discussing the memory loss, the overall “fuzzy” feeling and after affects from my last seizure with my Neurologist yesterday. He assured me that all this was normal, and compared having a seizure to shock treatment (if any of you are old enough to remember when that was considered a valid form of psychotherapy). I never thought of it that way, but he had a point.

Back in the 1950’s (well before my time), Electroconvulsive Therapy was considered the “treatment-de-jour”, in which electric currents were passed through a patient’s brain, deliberately triggering a brief seizure. The theory behind the treatment is that the therapy causes changes in the brain chemistry that can reverse the symptoms of certain mental illnesses. However, it was being prescribed for depression, anxiety, things that could be triggered by hormonal imbalances, etc… My point is, back in the ’50’s, when it was widely used, I can only imagine how confused and possibly traumatized some of these patients felt afterwards. I would imagine any improvement they showed was probably out of fear of their next session, rather than true progress. I am appalled to learn this treatment is still in use today. Although considered much safer and used less frequently, they still do this?? I am horrified.

Ok, I got off on a bit of a psychotherapy tangent; but that’s what Partial Complex seizures are like, for me.

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