If you are one of my Facebook friends, then you probably know that I had a seizure 8 days ago - and that during this particular seizure, or rather, during the fall occurring at the onset of the seizure, I incurred at least one orbital bone fracture (a scientific and pretty way of saying I cracked a bone in my face).
I don't always announce or discuss whenever I have a seizure; but the accompanying injury of last week's seizure made it a bit unique, so I posted a prayer request on Facebook about the whole thing. And, then of course, it's also hard to go out in public with major bruises and swellings interspersed all over one's half of their face without bringing even a tiny bit of attention to themself. Yesterday, while I was picking up mail at my mailing center, I also had a package to claim. Once I got up to the counter, I believe I so unnerved the young employee helping me that I literally had to tell him what he needed to do so I could receive my parcel . . . and the entire time, he was politely trying not to "look" at me while all the time also trying to "look without looking". There ya go.
One of the reasons that I don't always let people know when I have a seizure is that, well, frankly, it just seems a bit weird to me to make such an announcement . . . it's not the most pleasant of topics - at least, not for me. Another reason why I choose to not always speak about whenever I've had a seizure is, well, the things that people say to me in response to learning that I've had another seizure often can be "interesting". Well-meaning, but still "interesting", none-the-less. Ironically, some of the things that I hear spoken to me regarding seizures are somewhat common; "common" in that it's usually not the first time I've heard it and the person speaking it to me is usually not the first person to say it to me, neither.
The intent of this particular blog post is two-fold: to educate y'all on how a seizure affects me and to address some of the things that have been spoken to me over the past few days (and sometimes after other seizures, as well).
While I don't particularly find it necessary to publicly proclaim a seizure event every time one happens, I have found it important to educate people about seizures; either in-person or via the wonderful world of wide webness. Because of that, some of this blog post will already be familiar to some of y'all. Liken it to a good comedy routine, if you will - comediannes will perform the same act over and over. (BTW, does anyone else other than me find it strangely curious that I am comparing seizures to a comedy act? For what it's worth, the comparison was purely unintentional).
Having a Seizure and Recovering from Its After-Effects
The first seizure that I remember having was back in 1987. It was a nocturnal grand mal seizure; "nocturnal" meaning that it occurred while I was asleep and "grand mal" (or "tonic-clonic") describing the type of seizure it was. Grand mals are the kind of seizures that television shows and movies love to overly-dramatize. I cringe whenever I see a grand mal seizure being acted out; truly, I absolutely cringe.
From 1987 - 2000, all of the seizures that I had were nocturnal and grand mal. Then, one day in early 2000, it was as if a switch was thrown . . . I had a waking seizure; still a grand mal, but it occurred during my waking hours. For the past 13 years, all of the seizures have been waking seizures; and I would say well over 99.99% of them have also been grand mals.
Some people have auras (warnings that a seizure is going to occur). There are myriad types of auras; in fact, auras are pretty-much distinct from person-to-person. For me the auras are very brief and only give me about a 2-second warning before the seizure actually takes place. And, it's weird. Freaky-dejavu kind of weird. The auras I experience involve my "remembering" that whatever I'm doing (at the time of the aura) is actually a seizure trigger. The "memory" of course is false; as is the impending feeling that the action is a no-no. It doesn't matter what I am doing at the time of the aura; the aura takes that information and then tells my brain that whatever I am doing is actually a seizure trigger. There's a momentary sense of panic and then there's also a momentary "call to action" where I know that I need to do something. Usually, though, by that time, the seizure has already started - and I am thankfully, rendered unconcious. I'm not being facetious neither - a grand mal seizure is a violence against the body and there are merciful reasons as to why people are unconcious when experiencing one of them.
Now. The next thing I remember is waking up . . . usually in bed. But. Given that I have not had a seizure while in bed for the past 13 years, how I end up there pretty-much remains a mystery to me. I have never been able to remember the time period of a seizure beginning from the aura until when I wake up in bed. I like to think that angels are sent to minister to and take care of me during this time period. And yes, the vast majority of seizures that I have had have occurred while I've been by myself (or while I was among people, just not in their direct vision.)
There are actually a few "waking ups" after a seizure. The "first one" that I remember (as mentioned above) is probably actually "the second one", with regards to "coming to" after the seizure. But no matter, that particular waking up is also like a re-booting for me. It's then that I have to figure out the most basic of information; i.e, I have to discern who I am, where I am and even when I am - down to my age, and year. Often I'm unable to pinpoint the day, the month or even the season without help. I will also call Tex during this time-period and let him know that I have had a seizure. It amazes me that in all of the after-seizure fogginess that I experience at this point that I am able to even ascertain who Tex is and which phone number is his. After I re-boot, I pretty-much pass out again and will sleep anywhere from a few to several hours. When I wake up the next time, I will realize how very sore I am; especially in my arms, legs, back and neck. It will take a couple of days for me to be able to walk normally and without pain. It will probably also take a few days for me to be able to speak clearly, swallow comfortably and chew solid foods (I do a number on the inside of my mouth during a seizure - it's not fun).
Over the years, I have noticed a type of depression that occurs after a seizure. It usually begins the next day after a seizure; and it hits hard - and always unexpected . . . until I remember that this is "normal" for after a seizure. Ick. I have to fight very diligently against the depression. I can usually come out of it within a day or two; but going through the depression itself can feel almost staggering.
I attribute the depression to two things: (1) I believe that the majority of the depression is chemical in nature. Afterall, a seizure is simply a chemical misfiring within the brain. It stands to reason, then, that the chemical misfiring would cause a chemical upheaval and commotion, depression-wise. (2) I'm sure that a small fraction of the depression is emotional in nature. In all honesty, I abhor seizures. There's nothing at all that I like about them; and in the days following a seizure where I am still trying to overcome all of the after-effects, it can get a bit daunting and overwhelming. But. As much as I abhor seizure, I loathe pity-parties even more . . . and especially so when I'm the hostess of such a blowout. I simply do not see any value at all in pity-parties; I'd much rather focus on the vast number of things for which I can express gratitude . . . and if you know me well, then you know that I also like to encourage people to do the same in their own lives. Living a grateful life is much more meaningful and abundant than living an ungrateful life. There ya go.
I thought when I started this blog post that it would be one post and that would be that. But, alas . . . that will not be the case.
My next blog entry will deal specifically with how people have responded to me, seizure-wise . . . and likewise, my general, thoughts, feelings and outlooks to such responses. My hope is that I will be able to educate, explain and even encourage.
Thanks for reading!
And, as always, your comments and/or questions are certainly welcomed and appreciated.
Y'all be blessed,