David loves trains, cars and he loves to snow ski. Multiple times a day, David crosses the street to visit Vivi, our neighbors’ dog. Vivi is one of David’s favorite pals. I’m not sure who is walking whom when they go for walks up and down the street.
Shortly after David turned three, he started having seizures. The only problem was that they don’t look like seizures, so it took almost a year to diagnose him properly.
David has simple partial (or focal) seizures, which means that only part of his brain has a seizure instead of the entire brain. When the entire brain has a seizure, you pass out, shake, etc. But when only part of your brain has a seizure, the seizure can manifest itself in many different ways. For some people it is a twitch of their mouth. Other people stare off into space. David has a sensation in his stomach. He will say that there is a bomb in his tummy or that a shark is biting his tummy. He runs around panicked. David is awake, aware and afraid during his seizures.
For eight months, David had five to six “episodes” a day. They treated David for gastrointestinal issues because he complained about his tummy. We didn’t feel like the conclusion was quite right, but we didn’t have any better ideas. So, we kept treating him for gastrointestinal issues. Right before Christmas 2012, David started having twelve to fifteen seizures a day. The intensity of the seizures exploded. He was petrified. He begged us to take him to the doctor to have them fix his tummy.
We went to our pediatrician a number of times over the next few weeks. All the tests we did were stomach related because that is where he felt the sensation. But, every test came back normal. Up to this point, David had never had an episode in front of a doctor, so our pediatrician could only go off of our description. Finally, David had two episodes in front of our doctor. She immediately thought it might be a seizure because of the fear in David’s eyes.
Truthfully, I thought it was crazy that it might be a seizure. The episodes did not look anything like what I understood a seizure to be. But, we’d tried everything else and we knew something was seriously wrong. Our pediatrician arranged for an EEG immediately. The EEG confirmed that David’s episodes were actually seizures.
Our neurologist started David on anti-convulsing medication the very moment the seizures were confirmed. At first, the medication controlled his seizures well. We were hopeful that he might outgrow his seizures. (Often, when seizures start suddenly, they go away suddenly as well.) However, medications no longer control David’s seizures. Now we are hoping that David will be a candidate for a resection, brain surgery that can possibly eliminate his seizures.
Welcome to our journey.
About Epilepsy (from the Epilepsy Foundation website)
A seizure is a symptom of abnormal brain function. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they are considered to have epilepsy or a seizure disorder (same thing.) A seizure happens when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity affects part or all of the brain.
In partial seizures the electrical disturbance is limited to a specific area of one cerebral hemisphere (side of the brain). Partial seizures are subdivided into simple partial seizures (in which consciousness or awareness is retained) and complex partial seizures (in which consciousness is impaired or lost). Partial seizures may spread or progress to a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, in which case the classification category is partial seizures secondarily generalized.
Partial seizures are the most common type of seizure experienced by people with epilepsy. Virtually any movement, sensory or emotional symptom can occur as part of a partial seizure, including complex visual or auditory hallucinations.
You can find out more information about epilepsy by clicking on the Epilepsy Foundation logo.