When I am having seizures, I shall wear purple

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2015/03/26 15:00 +00:00, original URI: http://www.siao2.com/2015/03/26/8770668856267196351.aspx


March 26th is Purple Day, as some of you may be aware. Founded by Cassidy Megan back in 2008, its goal is assist with worldwide awareness of epilepsy and its existence. So today, I will talk a little bit about my professional and personal interest in this disease.

My professional interest in it dates back to my twenties, when I was working as an EEG tech for several different neurologists and neurosurgeons in central Connecticut. It wasn't about *having* seizures so much as running tests on children and adults who had them or were suspected of having them.

Even after later being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and later on with trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis intractable to medication that finally required surgery, I never thought of epilepsy or seizures as a real part of my personal life....

And then one night in Seattle at a tasting with friends and acquaintances at Wine World, I acutely developed an expressive aphasia (or to be more nitpickingly accurate an agnosia aka word searching), which nobody else at the event really noticed as they simply assumed I had too much to drink. I on the other hand *did* notice it and with a little knowledge of neurology brilliantly misdiagnosed myself with a stroke and presented myself to the UWMC emergency room, where several interns, residents, and doctors tentatively made the same incorrect diagnosis until a CT scan ruled it out and they parked me until they could get me into an MRI.

This proved to be the most diagnostically relevant MRI of all the many MRIs I have had before or since because they were able to see an active MS lesion in the area of my brain attributed to speech. I was finally diagnosed with having had a partial complex seizure with post-ictal expressive aphasia (agnosia), secondary to chronic multiple sclerosis and acutely triggered by the excessive ethyl alcohol of a horking huge wine tasting. After being noted to be subsequently seizure free for six months, I was cleared for driving and that was that (though I was seldom driving anyway since I had an iBOT 4000 and seldom needed to).

In the end, however, the evidence that I was still having seizures became overwhelming, both from my personal recognition of simple partial seizures with me taking off my glasses and then losing them, and from the recognition of others of complex partial seizures with post-ictal confusion and expressive aphasia (agnosia), for which I have been put on varying doses of Keppra ever since (currently 1000mg BID, though I am seeing my neurologist early next month to talk about increasing the dosage, since I am still having some complex partial seizures at that dosage).

Unusual case? Perhaps, but every person who has epilepsy has unique life circumstances that have an effect on the way their case presents. And now you are more aware of it!

Apologies to Jenny Joseph!


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