Archive for August 1st, 2008

August 01, 2008
Filed Under (Show me the drugs!) by svana

The early summer of my thirty third year, life changed for me and became very interesting.

One day, while out for a girls lunch with my daughter I had an episode. At the time I had no idea what was happening…my body didn’t work, my brain didn’t work and for a moment, I didn’t recognise one of the most precious people in the world to me. Honestly, if I hadn’t been so scared….I would have laughed, shook my head and said, “How typical”. I had a Bi-Lateral Focal Seizure.

The restaurant we were at would not let my daughter use the phone to call her Dad…at the time I couldn’t be bothered to carry a cell phone because I didn’t need to be in touch with anyone *that* badly. I was told to use a payphone up the street, with a generic and dismissive hand gesture. I wasn’t even sure my legs would support me or my mind would guide me, and my then six year old child, certainly could not go on a trek to find this elusive payphone. I don’t need to tell you how angry I was. Thankfully, we ran into another Mom from my daughter’s school, and she called my husband. Oddly enough she works full time with twitchy folks like me….ahem, epileptics.

I had uncontrollable tremors on my right side affecting my hand and arm, numbness in my right leg, no peripheral vision on my right side and could not make sense of anything….my brain had been put into a blender without my consent.

Moving on…

As luck would have it, two of the Emergency wards had combined into one, starting that day….and it was a nightmare for anyone who could walk in under their own steam. The Triage nurse, bless her, held her clipboard up in front of her eyes while shouting out her scriped question, “Is anyone having trouble breathing?”, while I’m sitting on the floor, as they only had four chairs available, beating my right hand against the wall to see if I could restore any feeling to it. Honestly…it didn’t help…but it seemed entirely logical at the time.

The third time our dear triage nurse walked into the waiting area, doing the same darn thing with her clipboard, my Husband lost his temper. He said, “Does not being able to feel the whole right side of your body count?”…he was glorious in his anger, and my hero. They blitzed me into the ward and started peppering me with questions.

Now the really funny part is when the two young male residents come in to do an ECG….being very careful not to expose too much skin while attaching the adhesive pads. I said, “Guys, I used to tan topless…I’ve had a child…in front of a male doctor, just put the damn pads on already”…sheesh. In the grand scope of things, they were far more embarassed by bare breasts than I was…and they are mine, darn it. My heart, at it turned out was perking along quite well….my brain was a totally different issue altogether.

The people who know me would say that my brain hasn’t been normal for quite some time, and I’d be inclined to agree. The damn thing is, now we had half arsed confirmation that the medical community agreed. After eliminating possible diabetic reaction, heart issues and everything else you can do, short of stuffing me into an MRI; the doctor on staff presented me with a prescription for Dilantin and the glib diagnosis of Epilepsy. To say I despise prescription meds is an understatement, so I was not about to start popping pills without having a damn good idea of what the side effects were going to be.

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me….even the most *harmless* drug has extreme results. If there is a category listing for side effects that says “VERY RARE” or “Snowballs Chance in Hell”, that’s what I’m likely to experience. Imagine my joy when I researched Dilantin….an antispasmodic that makes you have seziures, what the hell is the point? So, after several discussions with my long suffering neurologist, the pharmacist and most importantly my husband and daughter; I decided not to take the meds.

My neurologist was not pleased with this decision, and was graceful and kind when he fired me as a patient.

I feel good about my decision because I now pay far closer attention to how I live and what is truly important to me. I know many of the triggers for my seizures, some of them I can work around, others I can’t….but I live the way I choose to, and that is vital.