When I was 17, I had my first Grand Mal seizure. I am assuming those who are reading this knows the various forms of seizures but if not, a Grand Mal is the typical one may see in a film, the person goes unconscious and involuntary muscle contractions. If you’ve never seen one in person, it is honestly terrifying. I watched my mother have a Grand Mal when I was about 12. She had been having small seizures (which we didn’t know at the time, we thought she was just becoming forgetful and having a hard time remembering) and then, 5 years later after many years of having small ones (I knew something wasn’t right when I was younger but pediatricians can’t seem to understand when a child says there is something wrong), I had my own Grand Mal. I woke up that night after the first day of my senior year in high school on the floor of my bedroom, sick, sore and scared. I had another early the next morning and woke up in the hospital strapped to the bed. It’s been 10 years since that night.
After that I’ve had at least 4 more Grand Mal and many Petit Mal seizures (brief loss of consciousness without muscle jerks which for me meant the loss of speech and intense headache and nausea). One of the seizures had I been alone at home, I might have died because my husband had to catch me mid air before I hit our stone coffee table and I turned blue while my vomit tried to come out. Him telling me this while he was fantastic taking care of me the 2 times he saw me have them, is quite possibly the scariest thing I have experienced and I had no idea what was going on. A Petit Mal seizure happened nearly every day, specifically during especially hormonal or stressful situations. My grandfather’s passing (a year ago in May) caused me to have 2 very awful and nauseating Petit Mal seizures. To not be able to talk to anyone who didn’t know what was going on, was very frustrating. It happened the one time that I was a hostess at King’s. I felt bad because I’m sure it made no sense because I know what I think I am saying but I’ve been told it often sounds like gibberish or hums.
It took 9 years before I was able to find a doctor who realized the medication which was the same as my mother’s was not the correct one for me. 9 years! Although he is still unsure where or why I have seizures because there is only a very small change in my left temporal lobe and while on medication, there are no spikes in my EEGs. Through my own research and memories prior to my first Grand Mal, I have found that I most likely have Medial Temporal Lobe epilepsy. It’s the most common and usually develops by the end of the first to the beginning of the 2nd decade of one’s life and may follow a fever or infection. Two weeks prior to the seizure, I had a nasty case of strep throat and a fever coming home from vacation and I went to the hospital. My white blood cell count was higher the night of my seizure signaling that I was still fighting my infection.
But every time, I rose from it. I rose from it, maybe not immediately, but aware of my surroundings again and aware of those who helped and loved me most. It is those times that test someone’s strength whether it was on my side or theirs. I became stronger because I realized what I had to do to stop it and find a new doctor who took the time to change my medication and it has kept me seizure free for a full year now, full year without any seizures! I fell and with help of those closest to me, I got back up. Life is too short to let something hold you back from rising up and embracing life.