Wednesday, July 02, 2014

"Breakthrough seizures" and breakthroughs

Because our brains are so complex, epileptics can experience their seizures quite differently. Mine tend to be triggered by being overtired, overly hungry, overly emotional [positive or negative], or through a sudden anxiety spike.  Frequently, they begin in the middle of the night and I can anticipate them by an elevated heart rate and teeth grinding / clenching that precedes actual jerking, shaking, and a mother of a relentless headache. Then I begin to vomit at least once an hour, so we can add dehydration to the list because while I drink water steadily, it usually is only a way to avoid dry heaves.  This usually lasts for 24 - 72 hours. 
Because I'm on the maximum dosage of Keppra [750mg x 2, daily], I'm working under the impression that the "breakthrough seizures" are actually suppressed Gran Mals as opposed to Petit Mals - aka absence seizures.
 
After my most recent stay in the hospital, I am determined to not return.  It was necessary and educational, but it was also so very awful.  So, at roughly half past 1AM this morning when I woke with a racing heart beat, shaking, jerking, the tinny eared headache onset, and the telltale cough that I employ in order to avoid throwing up, I tried a different approach.  I'm aware that I have a problem with anxiety and I know that it can become a powerful feedback loop for me. 

When I'm restless, I use both Valerian and Passionflower extracts, but I also have medication for the anxiety that likes to clutch at my chest relentlessly and I use the medication very sparingly.  My fear of returning to the hospital and days of vomiting up my anti seizure medication, thus rendering it ineffective, along with worry regarding upcoming paperwork and government interviews were weighing heavily on my mind as I tried all of my breathing techniques and meditation skills while even tiny things continued to become seemingly incredible obstacles.

Anxiety was moving to panic and I could feel my heart rate continue to escalate, so, I took a half dose of my anxiety medication, along with some peanut butter [I apparently do not get enough protein on my previously standard diet, which was labelled, alternatively, vegan and starvation by the hospital, though I'll happily eat steak, pork, seafood, and chicken when I have the funds to do so] as well as chugging a glass of water, just in case!, and within an hour all signs of a seizure had dissipated.  I'm still pretty tired as both pre and post seizure sleep is not incredibly restful sleep, it's sort of a catatonic, triage level layover, and anti-anxiety meds hit me pretty hard, but half a day of resting easy versus 4 days in the hospital?  That math is obvious.

I think I'm finding a way to not feel constantly in danger of being randomly blindsided. I'm sensitive enough that I can feel the signs of an upcoming episode.  If I can find a way to create a safety net for diverting those episodes, I can return to a normal[ish] life...or, rather create a new normal life for myself.  Living in fear of leaving the house because "anything can happen", is tiresome and not a fun way to live.

I'm sensitive about the anti-anxiety drugs because of my mother's struggle with addiction.  I simply don't know how much is genetic and how much is choice driven, but if by vigilantly managing their usage and using them only only under certain as needed circumstances is a course of action that will keep me out of the hospital, perhaps it's time to rethink my perspective on their appropriate usefulness. 


I'm excited about this new development.  I'm excited about being open to some changes that I was staunchly opposed to in the past that will hopefully improve my future.  I still accept that it will be an uphill battle.  Weirdly enough, I'm happy to respect some limitations in the interest of not killing myself by being too stubborn and simply, instead, take things slowly.  In fact, it feels less like a limitation than a new door opened.  I'm excited to begin not being scared in my body or about the world at large.

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