What It’s Like to Be Postictal (in My Own Very Personal Experience)

One of the worst parts of the morning after a “big seizure” (technical term) is being too brain dead—figuratively, of course—to think properly, hence the uncreative title of this post. On the plus side, however, I can blame any typos/inelegant sentence constructions/etc. on my neurons’ latest riot.

Anyway, I decided that it was high time for a little epilepsy education. Hooray! Keep in mind, though, that I base my description solely on my own case; each person with epilepsy’s experience is different.

With that disclaimer, I’ll continue.

What’s it like to be postictal? I’ll take a typical period after one of my late-evening tonic-clonic seizures as an example.

The progression is usually as follows:

I regain consciousness within a minute or two and am confused and cognitively impaired. (It’s been reported to me that I’ve said some pretty interesting things during this phase, none of which, in the interest of avoiding an elevated level of embarrassment, I’ll repeat here. If you’re a friend, you’re welcome to ask. Depending on how good friends we are, I may or may not tell you.) I fall asleep as soon as my husband lets me.

When I wake up the next day, I feel, like I did this morning, as if I had run a 5K and then gone on a celebratory bender the night before: my muscles are sore, I have a headache, and I’m slightly nauseated. It sometimes takes me a bit to figure out what had happened. I have no memory of the seizure itself, and really, it’s within the realm of possibility that I had done a 5K and drunk several pints of beer, right? While two or three hours and several painkillers later I’m more or less back to normal, the effects tend to linger well into the afternoon.

In sum, postictal = thoroughly unpleasant.

I leave you with a visual representation of the whole postictal thing:

Another symptom of the postictal state is not being able to draw circles.
Another symptom of the postictal state is not being able to draw circles.

7 thoughts on “What It’s Like to Be Postictal (in My Own Very Personal Experience)

  1. My postictal phase goes like this… I come around from the seizure, I’m confused and not very coherent. After about 10 mins or so I realize I have had a seizure. I then sleep for a few hours, to wake up with a cracking headache. Now this is the really strange bit. Once I’ve woken up I’ll have a drink, usually a cup of tea. But my sense of taste is heightened, I can really taste every flavour. If I eat something the same applies. And when I have a shower I can feel every drop of water hitting my body. Its really strange.

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