5 Overlooked Side Effects Of Absence Epilepsy

5 Overlooked Side Effects Of Absence Epilepsy

"The silent seizure."
329
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

I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.
20230
views

It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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

My Scare With Blood Clots Had A Happy Ending, But It Was Still A Dangerously Close Call

A close call with severe blood clots in my leg.

798
views

So, I will set the scene. I had one week in between when my spring classes ended and when my summer classes began. I was all set up to spend that week with my boyfriend at Disney World. Day one of the trip, we were headed to Magic Kingdom with fast passes for all three mountains in the park.

On the way over to the park, my leg started to feel very tight, like all of my muscles were clenched and I couldn't release them. The feeling just got worse as I was walking and my leg just felt heavier and heavier. At one point, I went to the bathroom and noticed that my leg was swollen a lot and had turned a purplish color. I told my boyfriend that we had to leave immediately.

I tried to just rest it and elevate my leg for the rest of the night. But in the morning, it was almost impossible for me to walk on it and the pain was only getting worse. I have had hip problems in the past and most of the pain was in my hip area so my boyfriend and I went to an orthopedic and my dad met us there. After X-rays, the doctor said that for the most part, my hip looked fine and he was concerned about a blood clot. I went to the hospital to get an ultrasound and unfortunately, they saw a clot and sent me to the emergency room.

At first, the emergency room doctors seemed optimistic that all they would have to do was put me on a quick blood thinner and then follow up with my regular doctor. However, with further inspection of the ultrasound and the clot, they admitted me to the hospital under the pretense that it was basically just an overnight observation. There was a lot going on and a lot of needles for testing and medicine (I am terrified of needles so this was great for me).

At first, I was started on a medicine that was given as an injection twice a day in my stomach. But after two days with little improvement, my treatment plan switched.

They started me on a much stronger medicine that was a constant drip in an IV. This meant I needed another IV and that they had to take my blood every 6 hours to see how the medicine was working. In addition to my fear of needles, I have very hard to find veins so the lab people had to come up to get my blood because it was too hard for my nurses to get. The nest plan of action was surgery.

I am generally not scared of going under anesthesia or having surgery but this one scare me a bit. There was a possibility that I would wake up from surgery and have a catheter in the back of my knee and have to be transported to another hospital for further operations. By the grace of God, I woke up from surgery without a catheter and good news from my doctor. My surgery had gone well, he was able to remove the clots that took up almost all of my leg. The bad thing was that he found something messed up in my anatomy that basically caused my artery to compress my vein and that is what could have caused my clots.

By the looks of the clots, they could have been building for up to a year. He had to install a stent in order to keep the vein open for the rest of my life.

Currently, I am at home. I was in the hospital for 6 days and went through a lot of testing and pain. I still have pain and I still might for a while. I still have some clots in the bottom half of my leg because the veins are too small to operate on there. I am on blood thinners and other medications. We still don't have the answer on what exactly caused the clots or what the rest of my life looks like in regards to the treatment of this problem.

This was a very scary experience and still is confusing and takes a toll on my brain. I worry about things such as being on blood thinners for my whole life or not being able to take estrogen due to the risk for blood clots. However, I got extremely lucky that I had no clots in my lungs and that the doctors were able to help me as much as they could.

Never ignore the signs of your body! If something feels off, get it checked out. I had a lot of aches and pains in the past few months that could have been pointing to this problem but I didn't find it until the main signs showed up. Pay attention to yourself! I was incredibly blessed to have my amazing family by my side even with the two-hour drive daily and my boyfriend holding my hand the whole way even though we missed a whole week of Disney. I was also super grateful for all the happy wishes and prayers that people sent my way.

Related Content

Facebook Comments