When did I start suspecting? Was it when there was no talk of discharging me? Or when I felt the atmosphere change?
One of the technicians who before I experienced a series of convulsions seemed to enjoy hanging out with me and my visitors, now, whenever she came in, she spoke of stress, that I needed to relax. She told me that I was too highly strung, that when I ate I was hunched over. I wasn’t sure what she was referring to, but then realized that sitting up in bed, reading as I ate, I probably was hunched over the book. I certainly didn’t feel stressed while I was there. Sleep deprived, but not stressed. Bored, but not stressed. In fact, when I wasn’t bored, I was enjoying myself—plenty of time to read, having fun hanging out with some of the medical people, enjoying my visitors.
One of the technicians who were in my room during the convulsions, left without a word after they were over, and never stopped by again. She’d been so nice when I first arrived in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. The other one who was there, became impatient with me when she had to tend to the electrodes stuck to my scalp.
After I noticed a shift in their attitude and start wondering about whether it was a non-epileptic seizure (NES), I asked those who’d witnessed it what the EEG showed. They were evasive.
I wasn’t convinced when the nurse responded with, “I don’t know anything about EEGs.”
But when EEG technician said, “Oh, I wasn’t watching the monitor. I was busy taking notes.” I knew she was lying—she’d been watching the monitor. The other technician had been taking notes.
The attending neurologist’s reaction to my query about getting out of there within five days heightened my suspicions. “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions at his point. Sometimes, when we think we’re ready to make a diagnosis, something happens that completely invalidates it.”
For some reason, I didn’t catch his answer to my blunt query about whether my convulsions were NES. Did he even respond?
There are two type of NES—Psychogenic and Physiologic. Pychogenic seizures brought on by psychological issues such as stress or trauma (not by abnormal electric brain activity). Physiologic seizures are triggered by physical events like sleep deprivation, hypoglycemia, or cardiac arrhythmia.
After three nights of sleep deprivation and five days’ worth of grime, which no sponge bath could remedy, I’d had enough. My head was itching, I was sick and tired to being confined to the room, and I was fed up with the food. I didn’t care anymore about the diagnosis.
I just wanted out.