My Life with Complex Partial Seizures

It's the summer of 2009. I'm sitting at home, with my University-issued laptop on the desk, and I'm playing Evony. I can't can't remember the last time I looked at the clock, but looking at my troop movements, and how close they are to the enemy castle, I can tell I've been sitting here, at the desk, for at least two hours. I've probably been sitting here for five, though, just talking to my comrades in the guild that I run and managing all of my cities. I click on the messages tab —

Déjà vu. The strongest feeling of déjà vu I've ever felt. It's nauseating and I can't see straight. A flurry of visions and memories flood my sight, both eyesight and eye of the mind. I try to push through it, but more keep appearing, as if someone released the floodgates to my memories and imaginings. The memories are rushing through my sight so quickly that, when I try to latch on, my nausea worsens. I dry heave. I dry heave again. I lie my head down on the desk and begin humming a tune, but I don't know what tune it is. I'm just humming to hum.

Finally, a break. The visions, or memories, cease. The tightening in my stomach dissipates. I sit there, with a blank stare; an emotionless countenance. I wonder what happened. I've never felt anything like this in my life. They were the most excruciating minutes of my life. And that's when I look at my troop countdown timer

It had only been ten seconds. Two hours later I would experience it all over again.

So, what are Complex Partial Seizures?

Well, the definition is as follows: A complex partial seizure is an epileptic seizure that is associated with bilateral cerebral hemisphere involvement and causes impairment of awareness or responsiveness, i.e. alteration of consciousness. These can typically last 30 seconds to two minutes. They are often accompanied by warning signs, like tunnel vision and feelings of déjà vu.

Luckily, I rarely ever have one that last longer than a few seconds while I'm awake. My warning signs, mainly déjà vu, last up to a second, then I will be immediately stricken by the seizure. In fact, almost every time I have felt déjà vu, since the first seizure, I have been fallen prey to a seizure.

And, when I am around people, when one strikes, they rarely know it's happening. These seizures are very subtle things. I don't have tremors, or any physical sign at all, save for the fact that I go completely pale. Since they are quick, I usually am able to wait it out, by either humming, singing, or whistling. These are examples automatisms. I do something I would normally do but have no control over my actions. My body simply does these things because it can.

It's at that point when people realize what's going on. And, of course, there's nothing they can do for me, save console me if it's a very bad one.

And they can be very, very bad, depending on how long they last and how many I get in a certain amount of time. Depending on how far apart in the day they are, the first one drains me physically. The second drains me emotionally. The rest that follow, in a given day, cause me to lose my grip on reality, and I can feel myself slowly losing grip on my sanity (it's uncommon for someone to experience more than two a day).

At one point, I had five seizures in a ten minute time span. It was at this point I believed that the world we were living in was actually something akin to the Matrix and these seizures were my 'real' body attempting to break free of the shackled binding it to this world. I quickly fell asleep.

I continued to have them in my sleep. I woke up the next day completely unrested and dangerously close to having a nervous breakdown. I slept the rest of the day in its entirety after that.

Does anything trigger these seizures?

My Life with Complex Partial Seizures

Yes there is: Doing something constantly. I realized that the more I did certain things the more likely I would get a sense of déjà vu and, thus, experience a seizure. Late 2009, into 2010, I was heavily into Sins of a Solar Empire and would play it with friends during any free-time I had after concluding my studies. We would play late into the night/early morning times. I would play by myself, if no one was available to play. I played so much that everything started to blur together, and things started feeling familiar, even when starting a new game.

It was at this point that I would start having seizures while playing. I would stop playing, get up and walk around and hum, then be confused and tired when the seizure stopped. I wouldn't go back to the game for a while. It was worse when we would have giant LAN parties in the large conference room in my Residence Hall. During the game I would suffer a seizure then just not come back to play. Though, there were times when I would struggle through the seizure and continue playing but, at that point, I was playing out of obligation and would, almost always, be hit by more seizures.

Thus, everything I do I have to moderate. I can't play Skyrim for too long, because seizures. I can't exercise too often, because seizures. I can't listen to music as often as I would like to, as I love game soundtracks, because I will get a seizure. It is as if my brain is telling me that I need to do everything in moderation because I will stop liking something if I do it too often, thus seizures.

So, I can't game as often as I would like, though it is incredibly fun. When I buy a new game I can't play it for hours, upon hours, nonstop. I have to take breaks. In fact, I force myself to take breaks, as to ensure that I will be just fine. Some games I don't play for months on end, just be be extra safe, and, sometimes, I completely forget about them altogether. It has helped me learn patience, as before I would rush to get a game on launch and beat it as fast as I could and then replay it. Now, I just play until I think I should stop, then come back to it later on as the ending can wait. But I want to keep playing, though I don't.

I have even stopped driving, as I am afraid of what might happen if I suffer one whilst behind the wheel.

These seizures, while even on medicine, are still affecting my life and today I suffered the worst one in my life.

My Life with Complex Partial Seizures

I was at work, like most people are on any given weekday. I was nonchalantly talking with my coworkers, and was in the middle of a story when I was suddenly besieged by a seizure. I hummed in front of them and paced around, without meaning. I found myself in another room talking with someone, who was originally in the room I was telling my story in. I became pale and started to ask where I was and how I got there. They sat me down and asked me what the last thing I remembered was.

I told them it was when I had my seizure.

'That was an hour ago.'

I became sick to my stomach. I lost an hour of my life. They told me what happened in that time I lost. Evidently, I finished my story, then told them about what happened to me , and went back to work. I wouldn't respond when they called for me, so they assumed I was busy and couldn't hear them.

I don't remember any of it. I still don't. And that frightens me. They sent me home, though. Drove me back, though I usually walk. It was the worst seizure I've ever had.

So, how is life with seizures? Up until this point, it has been about coping. Knowing that I could suffer them at any given time, which I am ok with. I have accepted that, and, to be honest, I am just fine with it. It is part of me and what makes me unique.

But, this new experience scares me. I don't know how to deal with it, because I could lose hours next time, not just one. And I don't want that.