Basically, I experience 3 different types of seizures, the first of which I don’t really consider a seizure, but maybe a prelude to a seizure. In this prelude, it feel almost like there is a dream-like state going on around me. If I concentrate on what I’m doing-concentrate very hard and try to listen to what’s actually going on around me, it soon leaves. I can usually keep doing whatever I was doing, but it’s difficult. This state only lasts a few seconds, afterward I’m slightly shaken (not visibly so) but only because I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’ve asked a few people that have been around me during thses spells if I act any different, and their response has always been “no.” I think it’s only because I am concentrating so hard on what they’re saying and the fact that I am able to speak to them, that no one realizes any differences. This type of spell is the one I have most frequently.
The second type of seizures is very much like the first, but more difficult to explain. It starts like the first, with a dream-like state going on around me, but no matter how hard I fight it, reality is like a tiny, tiny tunnel that is directly in front of me. I usually can’t move and try very hard to keep this tunnel in front of me, but it’s almost as if the dream is pulling me in. I really want to find out more about this dream, to let go of this tiny tunnel reality, but something tells me it would only lead to a convulsion or unconsciousness. I’ve had this happen a few times and people are very much aware of when it happens. I stop whatever I’m doing (even without realizing it) and stare very blankly. I can hear people, though I don’t always understand them, but I can’t move. I’m not sure if the seizure or coming out of it is worse. Once I realize that people are trying to ask me “Are you alright?” I usually can’t respond, because the words come out all garbled. I know exactly what I want to say but the correct words don’t come out. I don’t remember people’s names and quite often I don’t remember what I was doing seconds before it happened. Anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes later I’m not able to write, I think I’m writing exactly what I want to say, but after looking at it later on, it looks like hieroglyphics. An example that I am able to remember most of is: finishing a telephone conversation at work, the 1st dreamlike state occurred, I tried to finish the conversation and couldn’t speak. I managed to hang up on the caller, after I don’t know how long a time, I tried to write down the name and a few parts of the conversation (knowing I wouldn’t remember later). I thought I was writing fine, later that morning I looked at the message and couldn’t read a word on the page. Not only was the wording garbled but it wasn’t even in a line, it was all over the page. The worst part is that for the next 12 to 24 hours my memory is horrible and I’m exhausted beyond belief. The simplest and most common things are so difficult to remember such as: my age, telephone number, sometimes even my husband’s name. Naturally, all this does come back to me, but after each episode, I feel like a little bit of my memory has been chopped away.
The 3rd and last type of seizure is the convulsion. In the 3 years I’ve been treated for this disorder, I’ve had 4. The first 2 were somewhat close together, within a few months of each other. There is no warning (at least in these first two there wasn’t). After regaining consciousness, I’m scared, frightened to the point of being child-like. I don’t always know where I am and will after a few minutes start crying from the sheer frustration of finally realizing that “yes, I had another seizure.” After my first two seizures, I went almost over a year without any problems, then the 1st and 2nd type seizures started happening slowly. The two seizures I’ve had this year have been precipitated by severe, migraine-like headaches 24 hours prior to the seizure. These headaches have cause me to leave work and lay still in a dark room and sleep. The last one on June 13, 1991 was when I tied the headaches into the seizures (I really don’t get headaches that often). Other than the headaches there is no warning. Provided I haven’t been physically hurt (3 out of 4 times I have not been) during a seizure, I usually feel better physically, mentally and emotionally than I do after coming out of a small seizure (#2 type). After the initial fear and frustration have subsided (15min. to ½ hour) I feel that I’m alert enough to go back to whatever I was doing but then the exhaustion kicks in and I sleep for long periods (12 hours or better). I personally think I’m doing okay and feel none the worst for wear after sleeping, but have been told differently. An example would be: The night before a girlfriend’s wedding, I had a convulsion, woke up in an ambulance upset because it took time to realize what happened. I slept 12-14 hours afterward and then dressed for the wedding (I was standing up for her). I was still tired and subdued, but felt pretty good, and went through the whole day without any problems. When she came back from her honeymoon, I told her it was a shame I didn’t get to see her brother, she was dumbfounded because I had sat next to her brother at the head table all day long. To me it feels like I can go through the motions easier after a convulsion than after a small seizure, but apparently it’s just in my head.
Brainstorms: Epilepsy in Our Words edited by Steven C. Schachter, M.D., Raven Press, 1993, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins