An Epileptic Lawyer walks into a courtroom…

I went to court today for a hearing and nothing unusual happened during the hearing!!

I didn’t have a seizure, my face didn’t twitch or flutter, I didn’t have trouble focusing or staying awake, and I wasn’t unfocused or forgetting half the words in the English language!!

Of course, the second it was over my blood sugar crashed, my right thumb started to spasm and my face began it’s wierd little muscle dance but during the stressful and emotionally charged hearing itself I held it together!! Thank god!! I was so afraid I was going to go into court and have a moment where my face twitched just visibly enough that the Judge thought I was laughing at her.

“Counselor. Do you find something amusing?”asks the woman in the flowing black robes as she holds my clients future in her hands.

“No your Honor, I apologize, I’m Epileptic and my medication causes odd and unfortunately timed facial twitching. I swear I am not laughing at you.”

I could barely sleep last night as images of this and other side effect related issues flooded my imagination. I was so stressed out this morning on my way in. I so rarely appear in court these days anyway, as most of my practice is settlement, that appearing in court under these circumstances just seemed really unduly stressful.

Not only did I not fall apart and seize uncontrollably in reaction to the added stress, I kicked ass in the hearing too.

Today is a good day.

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Le twitch, twitch…

I upped my medication last night because I couldn’t stand the constant low level muscle seizures anymore.

My hands twitch their steady low throb more often than not these days, yesterday and the day before they just didn’t bother stopping. Upping the dose seemed to help initially, but then I ended up with a relatively strong seizure in both hands for about an hour. They kind looked like one of those claw machines inside the Wal-Mart, where you can maneuver the pronged “hand” around to pick up a toy, my fingers twitching in and out like they were being operated by an impatient toddler. It tires out my muscles and makes my arms sore, but is kind of interesting to watch if I can detach myself from the whole “those hand belong to me” aspect of it.

Still, I guess I am happy that they aren’t just fluttering all damn day long. My face still twitches when I get too stressed, so my cheeks hurt all over as a result. I guess this will be a better anti-wrinkle treatment than those silly electric shock devices you can glue to your cheeks and zap yourself with, right? I will have amazing facial muscles by the time this is all through, be 30 pounds lighter, and still hate the taste of all things sugary. I guess there are worse ways to maintain one’s youthful vitality.

At my 20th high school reunion everyone will look at me and think “skinny, tight-skinned bitch” instead of “Oh! You poor epileptic thing you.”

That’s something.

A better frame of mind…

I find myself in a better frame of mind.

My doc seems to see no problem whatsoever in me having more children, though I will absolutely not be taken off the meds at all, period, ever. Apparently the risk of birth defect caused by seizure is significantly higher than the risk caused by medication. Hmm. I guess we have some thinking to do.

I also have had a chance to slow down my ramp up and adjust a little bit to my medication, even though slowing down has resulted in two straight days of seizures in my left hand. They are very minute now, and feel rather like a muscle spasm, so I can handle them much better than I used to, though they are currently accompanied by that fluttering facial twitching which wears my face muscles out and freaks my soul out a bit. Ok, a lot. Still, I am less tired, and other than today have been generally feeling better.

The best news, I rediscovered a friend. I went to a drum circle on Saturday with a long time friend and while I was hiding on the fringe of the circle with her, wondering if I should stay there in the rain or hide near the bonfire and warm up, I saw the silhouette of a friend from long ago. I snuck up behind him and placed my hands over his eyes, like I had done a million times before in a prior life. When he spun around and recognized me it was like a homecoming. Best of all, he has Epilepsy, has dealt with it for thirty-three years, and has already spent hours this weekend talking me through this diagnosis. I feel as though my feet have found solid ground to stand on again. He has promised that I can call him anytime with concerns and questions. I feel so much better just having someone I know and trust to talk to about all this, someone who actually knows what the fuck it feels like, and someone who knows me well enough to ask me embarassing questions and answer the same with complete honesty and aplomb.

So this weekend has been a good one, and ends with me in a better frame of mind. I have a new strong hand guiding mine as I find my way through this maze, and am feeling blessed.

Dragging Ass…

My medication’s most prominent side effect this week is an overwhelming need to sleep. This has been compounded by the mini-dictator’s sudden need to arise and begin conquering the world between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. Sometimes, life and parenthood do not mix well, like high heels and tapered jeans. (Sorry y’all, this look will never not be tacky.)

I saw my doctor on Wednesday and she seems to think I am likely to adjust out of the “semi-comatose” phase I am currently in, get less distracted, and regain my appetite. However, my intense, sudden, and continued weight loss has gotten her to slow down my medicine ramp up, so I am still only half way to my expected dose. I will remain here until the sense of needing to sleep all fucking day goes away and I can start adding more pills again.

While waiting for my appointment I found a pamphlet from the Epilepsy Foundation on the table by my chair. I picked it up and was instantly struck by it’s heading. “You are not an Epileptic! You are a person with Epilepsy.” It shouted at me, clearly attempting to reassure me that my life was not about to completely change now that I had this … well… life changing diagnosis. (All righty Mr. cheerfully bright yellow pamphlet… I’ve got some time to kill… let’s see what you’ve got to say.)

Intrigued, I opened the pamphlet and began to read. The first two thirds were a very informative discussion about the wide range of variances between epileptic diagnoses, the differing treatments for them, and a fairly comprehensive examination of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. The overall theme remained clear though, as a Person with Epilepsy, I can still work, play, run, lead a healthy, normal life, etc. I just have to make a few minor adjustments to my new, state shall we say, and I will be off and running again.

Then, just when I was feeling cheered and starting to relax a little, I got to the safety portion of the pamphlet. Not too surprisingly, here there wasn’t any header about being a person with Epilepsy instead of being an Epileptic, no here there was a lot of emphasis about having your floors carpeted in extra deep pile with added padding and “looking for rounded corners when shopping for furniture”. There was even a section on what to do if you need to wear a helmet at work.

After spending two thirds of the pamphlet assuring me that the my life would change only minimally as a result of my diagnosis, this cheerful bright yellow pamphlet was now urging me to replace my brand new, first ever set of designer ceramic dinnerware, (You know, my fucking post college, adult dishes that I finally bought last year and picked out all by myself) with plastic plates and cups to minimize cuts in the event of a seizure. Technically, I am not even supposed to be cooking with the stove, as the safest route for me would be to cook solely in the microwave.

It went further to suggest I use a cart to take dinner from the kitchen to the dining room, to insure that I avoid any dangerous episodes a “person with epilepsy” might have while transferring hot food to and from the kitchen. A cart, as in, at the Dim Sum restaurant cart, or the middle school cafeteria cart!

I won’t even go into the bathroom safety, except to say we will be rehanging the doors, so they open outward.

I have a small chance of having the kind of seizure these precautions are meant to protect against, but not such a small chance that my doctor has cleared me for bath taking alone. She even lectured me on how dangerous bathrooms are for Epileptics. Apparently this is my new life, I take these medications, hope they prevent these types of seizures, and then carpet my house in really deep pile. Suddenly I am looking at my house the same way I did when Otter and Monkey started crawling and walking.

If I ever develop petit and grand mal seizures, will I fall and bump my head on that? Could that hurt or kill me? Should I get rid of it and replace it with something less potentially harmful? Do I need to gate off the fireplace?

Am I, at 33, seriously babyproofing my house for myself?!

Sexcentennial… and Scylla bares it all.

This should really be a racier post than it’s going to be with a name like that but I couldn’t resist the double entendre.

It’s my 600th blog post. I have been here since 2006, talking about life, law, and motherhood 600 separate times. I thought all week about what I was going to do to commemorate this occasion. I thought about a retrospective, I thought about a give-a-way, but my heart is not light and airy, and it would have to be for either of those posts. So despite the fact that the internet is forever, what I plan to giveaway today is way too much information. (Aren’t you lucky? I promise none of it involves my uterus so if you are male you can safely stick around.)

Many of you who know me outside of this little space of internet real estate already know what is going on, those of you who read my facebook page may have seen some cryptic messages about bad tasting food and oddly fast weight loss. Most of you don’t know because my husband and I are paranoid, and we don’t tend to share overly personal stories online. However, I am not having an easy time managing this one, so I am going to share it now, and hope that doing so will help me carry it with me. Besides, the insurance companies have access to this information, as do future employers, through other, more direct routes.

I was recently diagnosed with Epilepsy.

It was very out of the blue for me, as I have never had a petit mal or grand mal seizure, and had only begun seeing a neurologist because my left thumb started dancing to its own drummer upon occassion and my GP was afraid I might have MS or something. After a few months my left thumb dance became a left hand dance, then a two hand dance, and my neurologist took a look at the rapid progression and two odd little sleep deprivation EEGs and announced a potential diagnosis. “Focul seizures” and Epilepsy.

(I say potential because without the petit and grand mal seizures a full diagnosis of Epilepsy takes years of abnormal EEGs. She has placed me at about an 80% chance of having Epilepsy.)

I learned that Epilepsy can show up at any point in a person’s life, and that is not a childhood disorder, as I had always thought. I learned that it has a whole range of different levels of severity. I learned that I would have to be treated for it, because while I don’t have seizures that effect my consciousness, and I never have, I will likely start having them at some point in the future if I don’t start treating it now. Apparently my focul seizures, beginning in my thumb, marched into my hand because that is what this form of Epilepsy does. It marches from one small focal location throughout your body until you begin to suffer the more “traditional” symptoms of Epilepsy.

So, I went in to see a doctor because my left thumb twitched oddly from time to time and I left with a lifetime supply of anti-seizure medication.

Well, there are silver linings. I am spending a lot of time looking at the silver linings these days, because there are some thick clouds gathering on my horizons right now and as I scramble for my umbrella, I am looking toward a sunnier tomorrow for all I am worth.

To begin with, the medication I am on is the leading treatment for migraines. I have not suffered a migraine since being placed on this medication. This pleases me, a twenty-two year sufferer of migraines, greatly. So greatly that I have decided to give this medication a “college try”, despite the other side effects, just to see if I can adjust to it and be migraine free for the first time since I was twelve.

I don’t have a brain tumor. Apparently, the other possible cause of a randomly twitching thumb is a brain tumor. I am happy about this as well.

I can drive. I didn’t for the first two weeks while I waited to see what the medicine did to me, because I didn’t want to endanger myself, my children, and others, but it doesn’t interfere with my ability to drive. Yay for being able to drive.

I am now a really, really, really, really, really cheap date. Really. One drink, and I am basically a step away from drunk. Yay for saving money on alcohol in these harsh economic times.

I have lost fifteen pounds since starting the medication. It’s nearly swimsuit season. I need a smaller swimsuit.

Now, for the things that I am not happy about or that I am really freaked out and scared about.

In clinical studies the medication I am on caused Anorexia in a scary percentage of the adults who took it for Epilepsy. That’s right, not weight loss, fucking Anorexia. So now, instead of just freaking out about having hands that suddenly curl in on themselves and little and begin to dance to their own tune from time to time, twitch twitch, I now have to watch carefully for symptoms of anorexia. I have to set an alarm for myself to remind myself to eat a minimum of three times a day, and ask my friends and family to push food on me. I have lost fifteen pounds already and have been on the medication for less than a month. (Great in theory, freaky in reality.) For example, I got really involved in a case the other day, and Lee came home from work to find the kids devouring a box of saltines and a jar of peanut butter. Monkey had gotten them some dinner on her own, because every time she came in to the office to ask me to feed them, I told her it would be another minute.

I am never hungry. I don’t ever want to eat. Nothing sounds appetizing to me. I have no physical indications that food should enter my body.

In addition, the medication changes the way my body processes carbon, which makes everything I eat taste different, kind of like it was dipped in melted pennies. This is especially true with sweets and fruit. I can’t stand to eat sugar. Grapes and plums are the only fruit I can tolerate.

When I get stressed out, my lower eyelids and upper lip flutter. It’s barely detectable to anyone else, but I can feel it and it drives me insane. The only way I can stop it, is to lie down and breathe deeply for a few minutes, because it’s a stress reaction and freaking out makes it worse. It is so obvious to me that I am positive that everyone else can see it, but I have looked in the mirror, and unless you are standing two inches from my face and looking for it, you can’t.

Parathesia. My hands and feet get numb and begin to feel like that moment right before your limbs regain sensation when they have “fallen asleep”. It’s really uncomfortable and often hurts. Unfortunately for me, it’s not a circulation thing, it’s a way the medication fucks with my brain chemistry, so rubbing them does nothing. This will sometimes last all day.

Sometimes at night I have intense visual trails. This makes me nervous about driving at night, so for the time being I have chosen not to. It also makes me sick to my stomach. It also has tricked me into thinking someone else is in the room, because I will see a “trial” of my own body out of the corner of my eye and scare myself silly.

Lee and I were talking about having a third baby. We really want one.  The medication I am on will cause birth defects. If I get off the medication, the focal seizures will likely continue their march onto other parts of my body. So we basically have to choose between the risk of making my Epilepsy worse or not having another baby. Tears were shed, many, many tears, when we figured this one out. I am sure they will be shed again. So far, this is the very worst part of the diagnosis.

The sucky, whiney part of all this is that I can’t eat any fucking chocolate to cheer myself up because it basically all tastes like carob. Seriously, it all tastes like badly made carob. Badly made carob dipped in melted pennies. I would push old people down stairs for a good tasting brownie right now.

So, Happy Blogoversary, thanks for coming, please help yourself to a slice of carob cake before you go…

I think the really morbid part of this diagnosis is that I have only known one epileptic in my life, and that was Nick. He died a little over two years ago. So some strange little part of my melodramtic brain is freaking out over here, yelling things like “You couldn’t have left me your fucking Crim law notes huh, or your outlines for Property or Torts? It had to be your epilepsy?” Well, it’s yelling that in between bouts of barely controlled crying.

Sometimes, he really doesn’t understand…

“Honey” say I, as I re-enter our minuscule office with foot hopping haste, “there is a bug in the kids bathroom I am going to need you to take care of.”

“Really?” He says. “Is it ugly or something?”

“Oh, you’ll see, just get in there now please.”

He heads into the bathroom immediately.

“Wow, that is the biggest bug I have ever seen outside a zoo! What do you think it is?” He exclaims in scientific wonder and interest.

“I am not sure, but if I had to guess, I would say a beetle.” I respond, not caring about its nature as much as its removal.

“Do you think it’s a cockroach?” He asks, unthinkingly bringing up the monster of all uber-procreating pests in reference to this easily two inch long, inch in diameter insect hanging out on my kids bathroom floor. (Nightmare sized insect, as in, do not need a magnifying glass to see distinguishing features while standing above it. Eep!!)

“Nope, it’s a beetle for sure. Not a cockroach.” Memories of my grandmother muttering something about if you see one cockroach, there are thousands more in the walls that you can’t see running around in my head.

“I don’t know honey, looks kind of like a cockroach.” He continues, clueless as to my concern over the damage our house will inevitably suffer when the Men in Black come to do battle with the alien beetles hiding in our bathroom walls.

“Nope. Saw it. Definitely not a cockroach. Definitely a beetle.”

Doesn’t he get it? If it’s a beetle then we don’t have a potential infestation problem, a beetle just randomly wanders into the house through a tear in a screen or something. It’s an outlier, a bit of nature come to visit your home. A cockroach is an indicator of something darker, a deeper problem, an invasion of your space. A cockroach means months of extra cleaning and traps, and worst of all, dealing with more cockroaches. I can tell you now, there is no way in hell I am dealing with an infestation of roaches this size, I will fucking move back in with my parents. This is a nightmare sized beetle.

“Definitely a beetle.” I say, in a tone that simply can no longer be missed as a signal that he should probably not query the nature of the insect again.

“It’s a big sucker isn’t it!” he says again, admiring the engineering of such a large creepy crawlie. “I don’t really want to kill it.”

“You don’t have to kill it, you can put it outside, so long as you put it far, far away outside.” I mention cheerfully, hoping the admiration for the gargantuan example of insect-hood will soon end and the removal process will soon begin. Dead, alive, dissected, I don’t care so long as it is out of my house and I don’t have to touch it to do it!!! Isn’t that one of the reasons I married him? So I can call on him for huge creepy insect removal duty when I don’t want to summon the will to “get over it” and do it myself? Sheesh!!!

“Come here little guy, let’s get you back out where you belong” he says, as he gathers up the beast and carries it out the door to freedom, and most likely death by pigeon.