One night last week, I had just finished brushing my teeth and was heading to bed when I stopped dead in my tracks, paralyzed by fear.
“What’s wrong?” my husband asked.
“I feel a SENSE OF IMPENDING DOOM,” I replied, in exactly those words.
As per my recent explanation/tirade, the period after a tonic-clonic seizure can be pretty lousy for me. The thirty seconds or a minute or so before a seizure can also be unpleasant, though in an entirely different way.
This, my friends, is what’s called an aura, and while I don’t enjoy sudden, horrifying premonitions, I’ll admit that I’m grateful for their existence since if they decide to make an appearance, they announce an imminent seizure, giving me a little pre-convulsion lead time that allows me to safely lie down and start ruminating about how horrible those postictal hours will be, bypassing the falling-without-warning-onto-the-floor step that could cause a concussion or other injuries. Positive thinking!
Just as there’s a huge range of seizure types, every person who experiences auras, which are simple partial seizures themselves, experiences them differently: they can involve, for example, various physical and psychological changes or a combination thereof. Some people with epilepsy don’t have them at all, and sometimes auras occur alone and aren’t followed by a generalized seizure.
The brain is a wondrous, periodically terrible, thing.
It took me a while to identify my auras as such, partially because I made what seemed like the logical assumption that the symptoms were simply out-of-control anxiety, partially because they’re not always as pronounced as they were on this occasion, partially because I can be kinda dense, and partially because they don’t precede every single convulsive seizure, which made it hard to establish a connection.
In actuality, it’s completely appropriate, I suppose, that my brain should signal to me that something awful is about to happen before something objectively awful happens. Strangely, then, in this brief interval of true electrical dysfunction, my neurons near their most functional.
And then, of course, mass chaos. Can’t have it all.