Sunday, January 23, 2011

So that's what a seizure feels like...

The date was Wednesday, 12 January 2011, somewhere mid-late morning.
There I was, minding my own business in between sips of my much-loved Jacobs Kronung coffee... Man that is good stuff!

The day had started out much like any other.
An early hop onto the highway to see a client, followed by another highway stint in the opposite direction to see my next client - driving is a large part of my average day, and thankfully something that I enjoy immensely.

The rest of the day was a bit "up in the air" at that point, with my next confirmed meeting at 15:30, and a sizeable chunk of uncertainty in between.

Not to worry though, I had a few small to-do's to attend to before then.
Nothing too taxing, at least not by normal standards.

Catching up on some office chit-chat then, I was about to reply to a question posed to me by a colleague, when all of a sudden my speech failed me.

Now anybody who knows me personally, will testify that I am quite a chatty type of human being. My speech does not often simply fail me, and if it does, it is generally because I occasionally stutter over the odd word here and there.
For example, if asked to say "www" in its full expanded form, I will usually duff it up. That kind of thing.

No - this was something different in a huge way.
If you have watched the first instalment of the Matrix, now would be a good time to cast your mind back to a scene near the beginning, where Neo tries to speak while in the custody of Agent Smith.
You may recall that as he starts to talk, his lips very oddly begin to seal in on each other, until they quite literally fuse together, leaving no mouth opening, and no words.

That's about the closest thing I can think of, in describing my sudden speech failure.
No matter how hard I tried, only blunt, abrupt sounds came out.
The confused expression on my colleague's face only served to reinforce my own lack of understanding at what the hell was going on...

The last thing I can remember is that I was screaming loudly - not because I could actually hear myself, but because I could see my colleague covering her ears in a "what-the-hell-are-you-doing" kind of way...


As I slowly opened my eyes and tried to sit up, a firm hand held me down and a strange voice said: "Don't get up. You've had a seizure. You're going to be ok."
A seizure? Me? What on earth was this strange voice saying to me?

As I focused on the familiar faces around me, it began to feel like one of those bad dreams where you have fallen asleep at the workplace...

The next few minutes were a complete blur as I was transferred into an ambulance, and then shipped off to casualty to get checked out properly.
I knew that some part of my face was bleeding, and that my back was excruciatingly sore, but I could not for the life of me remember what had happened.

In casualty though, while my nose was being stitched up and straightened (OUCH!), the whole episode came rushing back to me.
Scary stuff indeed...:

Long story short - I had suffered some kind of abnormal electrical activity in my brain, otherwise known as a seizure - something which epilepsy sufferers experience.

The seizure was one thing - hitting the floor face-first then broke my nose and split my lip, and my back went into a kind of muscle contraction which was strong enough to fracture 2 vertebrae... Hence the back pain.

It's now been almost 2 weeks since this all happened, and it's all quite a lot to deal with, especially having had no background of epilepsy anywhere in my family.

Now I am in no way a medical person, nor am I in any way qualified to give out medical advice, but what I do know for sure, is that seizures can happen to anybody.
Their severity depends on all kinds of factors, and they can be triggered by a number of different things, including flashing lights, fatigue etc.
Apparently stress and anxiety don't help a whole lot either...

In my case I had little warning, except for the initial loss of speech.
Having been driving at 120Km/h on the highway only half an hour before my seizure, I can count myself seriously lucky...

Personally, I think that this is one of those "wake up calls" that we hear about all the time.
Although I cannot drive for 3 months (doctor's orders), all of my injuries will heal thankfully, and I am now on medication which should mean that I will never have to go through another seizure in my life.

It's not entirely that simple though - epileptics on medication can still experience seizures if their dosage is incorrect, or if they suddenly stop taking their medication for some reason.

Regardless, I know that I have come out of this experience with a different outlook on life, and that anybody who simply returns to their previous way of life after something like this, has probably missed a very important lesson.

It is now suddenly all too apparent to me, how fragile our seemingly stable, predictable and lucid daily condition actually is...



  1. are they putting you on medication now?do they think that the seizure might come back and if so what brought about the first one,can they tell you that?how long are you gonna have to take their medication?surely you haven't turned epileptic over night?

  2. Hey dude,

    It could recur ya. So not taking any chances.
    If you Google it, you will find that epileptic seizures are a strange thing - some are classified as "idiopathic" i.e. without history and without provocation... very odd.

    Meds prob for about a year at least, and then the doc might start cutting back my dose.
    Thankfully the side effects aren't bad, drowsiness mainly.

    Like I said, at least I wasn't driving...!