“Oh shit.”, I muttered as I gently placed my son on the ground. The feeling was as profound as it was imprecise. I came to sometime later to my wife attempting to confirm my lucidity, “Adam. Adam.” She made sure I had fully come to before breaking the news: “You had another seizure”. I broke down.
My first seizure, which had come some five months earlier, was a shock, but could perhaps have been explained away. My neurologist noted that 10% of the population will have at least one seizure, which can be brought on by several triggers. My sleep had been inconsistent at the time. My then four-month-old son was having trouble sleeping, so it was rare for my wife and me to be able to string together more than 4 hours in a row. Sleep deprivation seemed the likely culprit. We opted for a wait-and-see approach. The clock started. The risk of seizure recurrence drops precipitously after 6 months. So it was no driving, limited solo excursions, and having someone keep an eye on me as I keep an eye on my son.
My son eventually figured out that whole sleep thing and, after four months or so, I grew confident that I was going to be a one-and-done seizure statistic. It wouldn’t be long, I thought, until I could again enjoy things I had previously taken for granted: drive myself for a morning coffee, schedule swim lessons, and take a long-awaited solo trip.
In the three to five seconds between feeling that second aura and the seizure starting, I lamented the loss of my anticipated independence. About 20 minutes later when I came out of the postictal state, I felt the weight of what I had just lost.
I have generalized tonic-clonic seizures, what most people think of when they picture a seizure. I’ll get a warning the seconds prior, which are often referred to as an “aura”. It’s impossible to describe what it feels like. It’s not quite a tingling or out-of-body experience. Rather, just an overwhelming physical sense that something is about to be seriously off. I soon lose consciousness, my body flexes and tenses for a minute or so, and I’ll typically, uncontrollably scream, then enter a state of confusion and disorientation for 20 minutes. It looks and sounds worse than it is. I’m sure it’s scary to see. For me, it’s frightening not being able to account for 20+ minutes of my day.
If you ever see someone having a seizure as I have, if you can stay with them patiently until they’re alert, it would go a long way to making them comfortable. Better still, make sure they’re not hurt, help them to their side if possible, and time their seizure. For people like me who’ve had seizures before, it’s likely not an emergency situation unless I’m injured or if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes. This is especially important to communicate if we’re flying to Vegas and a flight attendant asks if the pilot needs to know. Keep that damn heading steady.
The week after my second seizure, I struggled with the implications a potential epilepsy diagnosis would bring. I knew, at minimum, I wouldn’t be able to drive again for a further six months. My confidence shattered, I had to cancel my trip to Vegas. And with so much unknown, I became worried about if and when I’d ever regain a sliver of the independence I once enjoyed. I struggle with that every day.
I’ve since met with an epilepsy specialist and have started taking anticonvulsant medication. We’ve upped my daily dosage after an odd incident recently. My normal routine of dozing off at night watching TV was interrupted by what seemed like a minor hallucination and waking up with a sore jaw and tongue bite, typical of my first two seizure occurrences. With no witnesses, we’re left speculating.
The medication, while offering some hope, brings its own complications. I’m perpetually drowsy, have bouts of dizziness, and often get what feels like fake auras, which makes for a handful of distressing moments each day. It’s tough to get through my day job, let alone find the energy to create hobby content.
I’m a different person now than I was in August of 2021 when I had my first seizure. With every incident, it feels like a small part of me is lost. Mentally, I’m not as sharp. I’m not as present. I’m far less confident.
I’ve realized I can sit here and wait and hope I won’t have another. Or I can keep going, accept what is hopefully transitory lifestyle changes, and continue to do the things I’ve planned, albeit with restrictions. I didn’t arrive at that resiliency on my own. My wife painstakingly pounded it into me. She’s been an absolute superstar, picking up the parenting slack I’ve dropped. Picking me up when I’ve needed it. And I’ve needed it a lot.
My goal is to be hyperfocused on the city I love. It’s been years since my last visit. I’ll continue to broadly cover the points and miles world and general travel topics and products, but I see much of my time being trained on Las Vegas. There was a heydey of Vegas content. The loss of the likes of Vegas Tripping and Cheapo Vegas left a void of quality coverage. I’ve acquired a new Vegas site with the aim of having the depth of VT with the snark and low roller focus of Cheapo. I’ll also be relaunching the newsletter in time. I’m desperate to reschedule my Vegas trip, but I still need to figure out what my new baseline feels like and build my confidence up enough for some solo travel.
Thank you to those who shared positive thoughts both publicly and privately. And thank you to those who’ve shared your own experiences living with and managing seizures. I have such an appreciation for people comfortable being vulnerable. That’s part of the catalyst for this piece.
If you’re going through something similar and want someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to reach out.