5 Overlooked Side Effects Of Absence Epilepsy

5 Overlooked Side Effects Of Absence Epilepsy

"The silent seizure."
287
views

Even as a person with epilepsy, I automatically associate the word whenever I hear it with people who have generalized convulsive epilepsy, which the most commonly recognized seizure disorder. But while convulsive epilepsy is the most commonly recognized, there are so many other types of seizure disorders.

My seizure disorder, for example, is known as absence epilepsy. It’s fairly benign, and I don’t fall to the ground, hit my head or shake my limbs. Instead, I go unconscious and simply stare into space for a few seconds at a time.

It truly is an invisible illness, until the side effects are not. Here are some common side effects from a person with absence epilepsy:



1. I might not be convulsing, but that doesn’t mean I’m not in pain.

While my seizures don’t involve falling down, I don’t have a risk of hitting my head, and they’re usually relatively quick, antiepileptic drugs don’t always have the greatest side effects. When I first was diagnosed, I was put on 500 mg per day of Ethosuximide (Zarontin). One of the most unpleasant side effects that I attribute to my antiepileptic drug is joint pain, which in turn causes muscle pains and weakens my entire body. This has been hard to deal with as an athlete. There have been countless times where I have been “shut down” physically for a sports season because my joint pain has been so bad. It’s not fun.

2. I forget things. A lot.

“What did you just say?” This is what I ask every time I snap out of an episode. My type of seizures don’t actually eat away at my brain (or at least I’m told they don’t), but the disorientation that comes with seizures makes me forget a lot of the things I’m told, even when the information is repeated.

3. Embarrassing moments.

Along with the forgetting information, these seizures tend to lend themselves well to embarrassing moments. Because this disorder is most common in children, and many go undiagnosed for years like I did, many people don’t realize they are having seizures. When I was first diagnosed, these seizures would happen upwards of 20 times per day, to the point where people thought I was just intentionally not listening to them.

It made for some pretty awkward school presentations, such as when I'd forget what I had just said. But by far the most embarrassing incident occurred when I was in middle school, and the teacher asked us to get into groups by counting off numbers. The person two seats from me said “One”, the person next to me said “Two”, and when it got to me, apparently I didn’t say “Three.” The whole class erupted in laughter and my teacher joked (though I didn’t think it was funny), “You don’t know how to count to three?”

4. Insecurity.

I’ve never really been honest about my struggles in relation to epilepsy. But after my diagnosis, I was always afraid of my seizures. I never wanted to acknowledge that I had epilepsy. When I had to check off boxes about any medical conditions I had, I was reluctant to say that I had epilepsy, because it didn’t seem real to me. After all, wasn’t epilepsy only reserved for people who fell to the ground and shook their limbs? When someone asked what was happening, I felt embarrassed to explain that I had just had a seizure because they would almost always ask: "Wait, I’ve never seen a seizure like that...are you sure you’re having seizures?" Yes, I’m sure. These types of seizures are real, and though silent, definitely do exist.

5. Frustration.

I’ve had absence epilepsy since I was 10-years-old, but I wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was 15. This meant that for five years, my seizures kept getting worse until eventually, I realized it was more than just me not paying attention. Even though I’m on medication, my seizures haven’t stopped. Most likely, I’ll have these seizures for the rest of my life. Doctors don’t know what causes these seizures, and they probably won’t for a while. It’s frustrating knowing that you have an illness that can’t be fixed no matter how healthy you eat or how hard you work.

Additionally, I feel that this type of seizure is often poorly represented by the media and epilepsy advocates. It is for sure the least severe type of epilepsy, in that it doesn’t cause brain damage or any real physical harm, but I would argue that these seizures definitely do leave individuals confused and disoriented after they occur.

Most kids, while they don’t know that any “seizure activity” has happened, are usually aware that they are missing some important part of a conversation or are confused about what is being said. This is totally normal! While our postictal period doesn’t last as long as someone with tonic clonic seizures, I would like to argue that it still exists.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Popular Right Now

A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

This one's for you.
24477
views

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that. I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions. After everything life has put you through you have still remained soft. This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did. You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself. You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away. Remember that it is OK to say no. You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Inside Look At Alzheimer's

This is just a little introduction to the journey my family and I have been on with my grandma while she struggled with Alzheimer's.

309
views

My grandmother, my mom's mom, was the most beautiful soul in this world, even throughout her battle with Alzheimer's. My grandma's name is Joan Kohanski (but us grandkids called her Baba) and she was born on February 22, 1938. She was diagnosed with polio in her legs at the young age of 14. She has walked with canes ever since then but lived such an adventurous life. She married my papa (Ron) on August 8, 1959. The first daughter of theirs' was my Aunt Karen on May 25, 1961. My mom (Gail) came along on February 10, 1964. Finally, my Aunt Julie (we call her T.T.) was born on June 13, 1966.

They took many family vacations, many boat rides on my papa's boat on Lake Erie, and even a cross-country road trip in their R.V. Our family is so much fun when we get together for events and holidays, but we all agree that Baba would make everything feel whole again. Baba, as told by my mom, loved her family. It made her entire world go 'round. She would have sacrificed anything for her family and she did in many cases. One time, my Baba, Papa, and all the girls went to Cedar Point for the day. Baba didn't ride any rides that day, so she selflessly walked around all day on her canes and had blisters when the day was over just for her family. She loved her grandkids, all nine of them (me included). She was also very funny and had a great sense of humor, and I see her live through my mom every day.

I'm not sure if anyone has ever heard of this before, but supposedly, cardinals are your loved ones making themselves known that they are still there with you.

The amount of times that I have seen cardinals since her passing is uncanny and nobody can tell me that it's just a coincidence. The funniest part about it is that she lived on Cardinal Drive when my mom was growing up, and that's still where my papa lives today. Another really special thing to me is that I am part of the sorority that she was in, Delta Gamma. It makes me feel as if I have my own special connection with her that no one can take away, since all of my cousins and siblings that are older than me remember her before she was diagnosed, and I have a vague memory of it.

Baba was diagnosed with Alzheimer's around 2006 and lived with it until May 12, 2016. Her struggle with this horrible disease was not easy, certainly on her, but any of us, especially Papa. Papa took care of her at home until he was unable to anymore, which then he made the decision to put her in a care facility. She started out in a typical room by herself. As her condition got worse, she moved into the Alzheimer's unit with other people who had the same illness. If anyone has never had the first-hand experience with a loved one suffering from this disease, it is truly the most heartbreaking thing in the world. I would never wish that on my worst enemy. You start to see the person you love and look up to the most slowly become less and less of themselves, and it's not their fault. You learn to forgive them for the times that they forget your name and who you are. You know that it's really not them and they can't help it.

The whole journey of her suffering has been such a hardship to everyone in my family. It's probably the worst thing that any of us will ever go through. I am so happy with where she is right now because I know that she is in a better place, and rid of any and all illness. It's hard to come to terms that she isn't here with us any longer, and it's almost selfish of me to question "Why us?". I would do anything to have her back today but I know that there is always a reason why and I have to trust it. If you or someone you know has a family member or loved one that has Alzheimer's, just know that you are certainly not alone and other people totally understand.

Related Content

Facebook Comments