My Second Seizure

April 9, 2014

I’m currently preparing for a sleep deprivation EEG. Which means that I have to stay up for 24 hours prior to the EEG. In other words: 


Anyway. Here’s a little something I wrote (and failed to sell) about the reason I’m going through all of this brain testing/torture right now:

My second seizure was a bit of a sleeper hit. I initially wrote it off as a dizzy spell brought on by a stuffy room, an open bar and a less than adequate amount of food in my stomach. So, when it passed, I simply rolled up my sleeves, downed a glass of water and decided to stay for another round of Hello Kitties.

It wasn’t until the subway ride home that I started to piece together the symptoms: The dizziness. The headache. The blurring vision. The racing thoughts. The sense of deja vu so prolonged and detailed that it had me temporarily convinced that I was, in fact, living my entire life for the second time. The correlation between epilepsy and that pesky little autism spectrum disorder of mine.

As soon as I made it above ground, I called my mom and calmly explained the situation to her. “I don’t want you to worry,” I said in an even and perhaps clinical tone. “I’m OK. But I think I may have had a minor seizure. I’m OK, though. And you know how much of a hypochondriac I am, so I must really be OK if I think that I’m OK.”

I gave my husband a similar speech when I got home. I e-mailed my therapist, an expert in ASD, and asked him if he could recommend a good neurologist with a background in the autism and epilepsy connection. Then I tried to go to sleep.

My first seizure was hilarious. Not just in retrospect, either.

I was thirteen years old and in the middle of a sex ed class. I had somehow, in my infinite powers of hypochondria, managed to convince myself that I had immaculately conceived gonorrhea and was in quite a panic over it. “How will anyone ever believe that I’m still a virgin?” my mind raced. “How did I get an STD without sex? My name is going to be in all of the medical journals!” Even as everything went blue, a part of me was able to appreciate the absurdity of the situation.

I was laughing when I came to, toppled over on the floor along with my desk and surrounded by a bunch of feet that were, for a moment, the funniest thing I had ever seen. I laughed at my friends and their trembling concern. I laughed at my enemies while I could, because I quickly realized that they’d probably be laughing at whatever had just happened for the rest of the school year. And I laughed at the teacher’s desperate attempts to convince everyone that the blood running down my arm was actually marker left over from the arts and crafts portion of our sexual education.

It’s anecdote that I’ll unleash with the least bit of prompting.

I haven’t told many people about my second seizure, though. I’m still not sure what to make of it. At thirteen, I still felt omnipotent to a certain degree and having a seizure was almost cool because it made me feel closer to Dostoevsky and Ian Curtis. At thirty-one, I’m more aware of my mortality and of the quirks and neurodevelopmental disorders that make me slightly more imperfect than the average human being and the idea of going through that again, especially in public, unnerves me in a way that no vague connection to Russian writers or Mancunian rock stars can assuage.

I’m not even sure what to say about it, really. This became painfully clear during a recent scare at a mall. Some nice young man was trying to demonstrate his herbal hot and cold therapy packs to me when I suddenly became overheated and dizzy. I panicked, terrified that it was about to happen again.

“I’m sorry,” I snapped, handing the pack back to him. “I have to go sit down. Now.”

“Is it the herbs?” he asked kindly. “Are they bothering you?”

“No, it’s not that,” I said, struggling for the kind of explanation that would be appropriate for the situation. I quickly scrapped “I don’t want to have a seizure. Again.” for its bluntness. “My anxiety’s just a little bit out of control because I’m autistic and I can’t stop thinking about the correlation between ASD and epilepsy and also it’s loud and bright in here” contained too many words and too much information. “If I’m lucky, I’m just having a panic attack right now” felt too melodramatic.

With nothing better coming to mind, I settled on “I um… I have… issues.”

After I found somewhere to sit down and reacquainted myself the finer details of respiratory function, I concluded that “issues” was a bit obvious and overdone, but it was as good a description as any.

My third seizure is pending.