I have been meaning to write this. I have written a number diaries on epilepsy. I have well controlled Left Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. Phenytoin controls the seizures, but I like to take as low a dose as possible. Very rarely, I will experience a seizure that is not extremely debilitating. I experience no loss of consciousness but it carries with it certain interesting characteristics which give me information about what functions of my brain are being primarily impacted.
I share this because I would like to read it. I am never certain as to what happens in the minds of others, but it seems like this is one that I would be interested to read.
I hope it's informative, and thought provoking.
The assignment I gave myself-
Describe, in detail, what it is like to have a simple partial seizure.
Update- I feel the need to clarify here that each individual may experience something much different. In the comments, you will see a description by someone with a similar diagnosis. The experience is much different.
It's like driving in your car towards the coast. You can't see or feel any of the coastal scenery just yet, but when you put your nose out the window, you can feel the ocean hanging, suspended in the air.
It is imminent.
Here we have this one dishonorable neuron. Yes, it's true that neurons are electrically excitable brain cells. But, damn, does this little fucker really have to act this way? He just starts getting too amped or something, and boom, the whole crowd begins to erupt in some sort of mutual misfiring party.
"Woot! We are gonna shut this place down!"
At any moment, however, the Phenytoin Anticonvulsant squad will shut THEM down.
Dread is magnified apprehension. I feel a sense of dread. There is really nothing to be done. The only preparation to make is to feel anxious.
A seizure like this is something that is more likely to occur in a crowded, bustling location, or in situations of stress. As a result, much of the experience is remembered through periodic images. Flashes of flesh and skin. It's like watching old security footage.
First, there is that oncoming rush of silence we associate with a state of extreme focus. A sense of closing. When you're sleeping, and you wish to act in a dream, but you are, for some reason, completely immobilized. I wonder if it's like "loud" for the deaf.
Next, it's as if I am a diver, or an astronaut. I have just been transported to a radically new environment. I made it. Relax. Have a look around. In a recklessly irresponsible sense, if it were a drug that did this, it might be pretty cool. One may as well enjoy the experience. It's like getting stuck in some weird town for a layover of more than a day. For some reason, the Ikea in this town here looks a little different.
But, the map and clocks are broken.
The "meat" of the experience is in the apparent shutting down of any functional ability to recognize location and time in any meaningful visual sense. When we think about the places we go, we seem to carry a map of the location. Normally, I assume, the map is activated and coordinated with the visual stimulus, and there is no need to think about it.
It's as if I'm looking at recorded video, and the video is having the problem of blinking out intermittently. The retention of this will be as a series of striking and memorable visual images, separated by some gaps.
It always reminds me of melodic tinniness of the opening violin part to the Camper Van Beethoven song, "Tania."
Oh, my beloved Tania
How I long to see your face
Photographed in fifteen second intervals
It seems as if it is the visual areas that are experiencing unexpected and spreading dysfunction. Despite this, it is the visual images left behind which provide the most profound and memorable aspects the experience.
Each image I recall was pasted onscreen like an informative graphic in an instructional video.
Time is inextricably linked to location. It is time and location which are unreachable to me. A clock is nearby. The picture on the face is useless. Yes, it's 2. That much I know. Soon, it seems, I will need to renew my comprehension of time's relation to the clock. The previous moment, I was fully aware of that, but now, I move my eyes to other parts of the room to search for a secondary clue. Ah, now I remember what's happening. I still don't "feel" the time, but I'm beginning to get an idea.
But where am I? Regardless of my familiarity with the location, the map-context connection is down. Honestly, this has happened more than once- "Sir, where's your bathroom?"
"I don't know."
A different time, and now the image is high def, and maximally zoomed. A tilted (artsy, huh?) green street sign- McGraw Street! Continue flailing Southward!
If I am on my feet, I am inevitably treated to a stark and blaring image of my bed. It's not always my bed, but I know it's my bed. Just like in a dream when every object is automatically imbued with a full life of context.
The map-context link is still down, there is no context match to that image. It comes frustratingly slowly back online. This is not the place where my bed is kept, please stop flashing that now.
Still a different time, and this time, I stand up and begin to operate in object lesson activism mode. If it is a comfortable enough moment, I let my companion(s) know what is taking place. Verbal pacing to ward off the time. After a few moments of idle chatter, the deluge of the rolling epileptiform waves has begun to subside. This moment is washing out. It is taking the dread and the anxiety with it.
At some point within these moments, something like exhaustion begins to emerge. The joyously misfiring neurons just don't seem to be able to carry on so crazily, anymore.
Mon Mar 17, 2014 at 5:51 AM PT: I sure do love the community spotlight folks. You guys always make my day when you upgrade my diaries. Thanks.