Sunday, November 15, 2009


I said in a recent blog post that I am not the type to want to put a bandaid on an issue, simply to hide it or make it go away, and yet, with the Keppra I've been taking since July, it has become increasingly clear that that's exactly what I've been doing, so last week I asked Dr Jason if I could stop taking it. He said sure, and gave me two options—step it down to one pill a day for five days, or stop cold. I decided to step it down, and so Thursday night I didn't take a pill.

Part of the problem I've been dealing with here, with the difference between migraines and possible seizure activity, is that the two issues can present in similar ways, which I have been aware of, but not really schooled in. Dr Jason suggested the step-down approach to stopping the Keppra so that I could monitor any symptoms I might have, and see if the lower dose allowed in more "seizure activity." The thing is, though, I have no idea what "seizure activity" is. I've been imagining it as a complete and utter loss of control, much, I suddenly realize, like my dad's rapid death from anaphylactic shock. I imagine it being sudden, gargantuan, biblically Terrible. I imagine people around me fleeing in horror as I slip or crash to the ground, my eyes rolling back in my head, my bowels releasing, foam and spittle leaking out of my mouth, my limbs juddering uncontrollably. More dreadfully, I think of this happening while I'm on the freeway, while I'm in the throes of some demonic grasp, careening the 4-Runner across multiple lanes of traffic, leaving death, destruction, and hideous maiming in my wake.

I am a logical person, though, and although I fear this outcome, I also don't believe it's likely. Also, I have shared with my doctors, pretty immediately, everything I've experienced that has struck me as particularly odd (minus the image of rush hour carnage on I-5 at my hand). However, my utter terror of the event has definitely been a factor in how little I've actually learned about it on my own.

An aside here: I have found that, without fail, getting more information about something that horrifies me to the point of lightheadedness comforts me immediately, and immeasurably.

Last week I started down the path to understanding more about my head when I read about "migraine with aura" symptoms on the Mayo Clinic website. This seems very much like what I experience.

This morning, I finally got up enough courage to read about seizures, epileptic and non, onset and during and after. None of these seems very familiar to me. While one or two of the symptoms are marginally like those I experience with my migraines, with seizures they are much more extreme. Most symptoms are completely unexperienced by me.

I then read the list of possible side-effects of Keppra, and many, many of the things I've felt in the last few months, that aren't related to the migraines, are pretty much there in black and white as side-effects of this drug.

And then, just now, just to round out my day's education, I read a list of anxiety symptoms and, folks, I THINK WE HAVE A WINNER. I would say that not all of the symptoms on that list are things I feel often (my guts/bowels are actually pretty healthy these days), but I would say that, since ending my chemotherapy this summer, I'm pretty regularly experiencing about 80% of these things (note: migraine is a symptom of anxiety). At my first therapy session several weeks ago I did fill out a form about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and we determined that I don't have that, but it does seem clear (clearer all the time) that I am, very much, working through a bout of intensive, focused anxiety.

Well what do you know.

Thank you all for providing a forum for working through my current issues. Although (finally) recognizing acute anxiety doesn't make me want to medicate it any more than necessary, I think I will make sure I have some Ativan on hand when we go to Chile next Saturday.

1 comment:

allyson said...

Cal, have you ever checked out Eric's blog?