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Just when you thought it was safe

Epilepsy in Plain Sight

Just when you thought it was safe

A personal epilepsy experience by Dr. Lee Outlaw

I am taking a short break from my six part Epilepsy series, “Six often overlooked associated conditions of Epilepsy” to write a special piece on my most recent experience as an epileptic.

I want every epileptic to know that I am not just a Christian Counselor and Psychologist; I am a real life epileptic. Although, my epilepsy is controlled fairly well, like you, I have my epileptic moments and just when I thought it was safe…, EPILEPSY reared its ugly head.

I was driving home (yes I drive) from a meeting feeling perfectly fine when suddenly out of nowhere I was hit with the ugly fist of a full blown Epileptic aura; not a seizure mind you but the next worst thing. I had taken my morning dosage of Depakote and CBD and had gotten my full 8 hours sleep. Apart from the slight stress of the drive itself, there was absolutely nothing to trigger an aura.

It was a very frustrating experience. Although I had had minor auras, this was the first major aura in ten years and that aura led to a major Grand Mal seizure; needless to say I was scared.

The aura was so intense, I had to pull over onto the frontage road from the freeway and eventually I pulled into a convenience store and purchased a diet cola. I finally felt I had walked the aura off well enough that I had control and drove on home; unfortunately the aura wasn’t over.

As I reached my home, I became extremely tired (every epileptic knows that severe tired feeling) and I practically fell out of my van. I made it inside the house and collapsed into my recliner where I remained fading in and out of consciousness for the next eight hours. I had no doubt as to what was happening so I finally took an extra dose of Depakote and ultimately made it to bed.

I woke up Saturday morning and felt some better but I knew things still weren’t right. As usual I took my Depakote and later CBD. I had a light breakfast but the aura remained; not as bad as the previous day but it was bad.

For those of you who might have never experienced an intense epileptic aura, here is what I (and many others) experienced:

It was as though I became semi-conscious, walking around in a hazy light yellow (some experience other colors but mine has always been yellow) fog (unable to focus or concentrate) intermittent déjàvu, weird smells (I smelled cigarette and cigar smoke even though no one in my home smokes and nobody is allowed to smoke in the house) and a thousand crickets in my head (some claim to hear strange sounds or music)(tinnitus/ringing in my ears). I also experienced a light head ache.

As a psychologist I need to point out here that someone experiencing a stroke can have a similar pre-stroke experience. Unless you have had an intense aura and discussed it with your neurologist (even if you are an epileptic) and have such an experience as I have described, you should call 911 immediately; it could be the difference between life and death.

Every epileptic’s aura experience is different but that was my most recent.

I continued to take my Depakote and CBD throughout the day and even an extra half dose of Depakote in the afternoon as my neurologist had previously directed when I experience an intense aura.

The aura seemed to decrease throughout the afternoon until I went to bed that evening.

Around 4:30 am Sunday morning, it happened, I had a “night (Nocturnal) seizure”; I woke up consciously shaking having bitten both my right side tongue and upper and lower lips. My tongue was bitten severely and outer lower lip bite actually bled.

The good news as most of us as epileptics know is that after the night seizure I am feeling much better and am nearly back to normal.

Keep in mind, increasing numbers of neurologist and researchers believe the epileptic aura is actually a simple partial seizure. Regardless, the aura for most of us as epileptics is a horrible experience.

I thank God for a good neurology team, support team which includes my family, great anti-seizure meds and prayer.

I am also thankful for the U.S. Congress having legalized CBD oil in all 50 states and the Texas State Legislature having legalized Low THC/CBD Cannabinol for use by Epileptics. I believe sincerely, had I not been taking CBD, my aura and seizure would have been much greater.

For all epileptics and non-epileptics alike, please remember that epilepsy is not a disease (although since 2014, many researchers have disagreed); it is a neurological disorder. At present there is no known cure and epilepsy does not get better (although most of us agree it is becoming easier to control); it is always there. But with proper care and support it is possible to live a relatively normal life.

May God bless every epileptic and their families and may God give wisdom to epileptic researchers as they seek a cure.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD