I am an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, who deployed twice ('04 - 05, '09) with the New Jersey Army National Guard, received a Purple Heart from an IED blast in '05, and now suffers from unexplained seizures. I am 32 years old and in otherwise excellent health. I have issues with PTSD (hypervigilance and startle repsonse to fireworks and similar noises) and seek treatment weekly at a local Vet Center.
I am posting on this forum to see if anyone else out there is experienceing something similar and if we can help each other out. To date, I have suffered six Grand Mal-like seizures. The first was in October 2011. I sought treatment from a private neurologist who put me on Keppra. After seeking a second opinion, a different private neurologist kept me on the drug. Now that I am seeing neurologists from my local VA Medical Center, my dosage has been increased with each subsequent episode. I am up to 750 mg in the morning and 1000 mg at night. My dosage is higher at night because every seizure except the first one has happened while I was asleep (the most recent happened during a late afternoon nap). And, except for that first one, every episode has come after a PTSD nightmare or a very mentally stressful day that included PTSD triggers.
My serious concern is that the VA neurologists insist that I have epilepsy. More than a dozen CT scans, MRIs, and EEGs all show normal brain activity. My seizures themselves are seemingly not caused by epileptic triggers. Yet they keep prescribing me medication as if I am epileptic.
I have done a fair bit of reading this summer about other causes for seizures among veterans. One topic that stands out to me (and my girlfriend and brother, who have witnessed my episodes and have brianstormed with me) is pyschogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs). What I have read suggests that this might be what is troubling me.
However, during my last visit with a VA neurologist, my theory was completely ignored. I have a "gut feeling" about what is going on with me, but I am not being listened to. I will soon be speaking with my private neurologist again to convey my thoughts. I am hoping for a better outcome.
In the meanwhile, I have continued to see my Vet Center counselor. It has helped my PTSD, little by little. My readings also included recommendations on helping to reduce PNESs by treating the underlying PTSD symptoms. Maybe not so coincidentally, each seizure that I have had has been less severe and l have recovered quicker.
If any fellow veteran is going through something similar, in regards to seizures, please comment. I know that we can at least shed some light on our respective situations.