I’m currently on the waiting list to go back to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at a hospital in my city so that my epileptologist can capture more data about my seizure activity. The prospect of a week or two of hospital time isn’t exactly thrilling, but at least there’s potential for productive information gathering and lots of chocolate eating and magazine reading.
One goal of this testing is to determine whether I’m a potential candidate for surgery. Even if my seizures have been mostly controlled by medication as of late, a development for which I’m infinitely grateful, the side effects of anticonvulsants, as my frequent complaints have revealed, have had significant implications for my quality of life. Don’t get me wrong: I’d rather sleep twelve hours a day and feel a little nauseated/groggy/stupid than have multiple seizures a week and risk more concussions, but such extreme meds don’t feel like a long-term solution.
On the surface, surgery might seem like a more drastic choice than unpleasant medication issues. Given the safety and efficacy of current procedures, however, and given that there’s no guarantee that Topamax, which has only taken care of my “big” seizures anyway, will be a miracle drug (after all, other anti-epilepsy medications have worked for me in the short term, too), it probably isn’t. I mean, a lobe resection or lesionectomy or whatever’s needed isn’t brain surgery, right? (Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for a bad joke.) No matter what extraordinary advances have been made in modern medicine, though, “brain surgery,” when not used as a figure of speech, is never a warm phrase, and it took me a while to stop rejecting the prospect out of hand. It’s kind of ironic, then, that I’m still open to it—maybe more open to it, even—now that my seizure frequency is way, way, way down, but experiencing what epilepsy is like on the less acute end of things has been a reminder of how awesome it is to not have to constantly worry about my neurons deciding to interfere with my life by rebelling en masse at inconvenient moments such as when we have company over or while I’m on the subway or while I’m trying to get ready for bed etc. etc. etc. So as Topamax has worked its sedating magic over the past few months, the notion that long, even endless anticonvulsant-free and seizureless stretches are possible has made the idea of letting someone cut into my brain that much more palatable. I don’t want that malfunctioning bit anyway.