My Close Call

By Lloyd Graff

I wrote a blog recently about an NBA referee, Mark Davis, who seems to love making the close calls.

I don’t. 

I am confronted now with one of these annoying close calls, which will have an effect on how I feel, how I act, my decisions, and maybe everyday actions like driving. 

I have a mild seizure disorder, a form of epilepsy which I have been aware of most of my life. Most of my seizures express themselves as a magnification of sound, a feeling of electricity down my spine, and maybe a fogginess in my brain for 10 to 15 minutes. Occasionally, they manifest in an inability to speak clearly or lip smacking, which lasts a few minutes. These symptoms are somewhat visible to others, but I have been aware of them for 50 years, so usually I am able to hide them and then proceed with my life.

Last June, however, I had two major seizures that affected my whole body, of which I have no memory. They were caused by a lack of sodium in my brain. I had a similar one six years earlier in the midst of a colonoscopy prep when I drank too much water and diluted my brain’s sodium. 

If I monitor my sodium, I am unlikely to have another major seizure, but what happened this summer has heightened my fear and awareness of the small ones which may not be related to the major ones. 

My doctors at the University of Chicago put me on a drug called Keppra, which is one of the most commonly used seizure drugs. I have to admit that it has eliminated all of the small seizures over the last six months, except for one in August. 

Unfortunately, Keppra also makes me drowsy about one hour after I take it, and the drowsiness lingers unless eliminated by adrenaline or reduced by caffeine. 

The author at work at Graff-Pinkert

So it is a trade-off. Hardly any seizures versus lethargy much of the day. I can experiment with other drugs, which I may very well do. There are days when I feel like throwing the Keppra in the trash, but then I think about a lifetime of irritating seizures that I have to admit seem to be coming more frequently in recent years. The Keppra has virtually eliminated them, and I am grateful for that. 

I do not love coffee, but I have been experimenting with how often and when I drink it these days. It definitely reduces my fatigue, but the length of my greater bounciness varies. 

Also, when I set myself to a focused task like writing a blog or working on a transaction, my tiredness fades. Listening to an exciting book may accomplish the same thing. So the drowsiness does not overtake me completely except from around 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The doctor tells me to give in and be happy to take a siesta. 

That is my balancing act. Live virtually seizure-free, use coffee as a countermeasure, and be happy taking Keppra or some other drug. Or, I can drop the Keppra to feel less lethargic but accept the annoying small seizures, which seem to be getting more frequent as I get older.

Question: What tough decisions are you grappling with right now?

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6 thoughts on “My Close Call

  1. Ray Miller

    I am tossed between Multi spindle vs. Swiss. I don’t know if there is anybody left out there that could run a multi but I know training on Swiss is an easier task and MAYBE I could find someone that would want to run Swiss vs. big oily nasty Money making multi? My dream machine would be 5/6 spindle OLD Time tooling and 2/3 CNC spindles. BUT I am 76 yrs young and face that siesta thing your mention due to OXY 6 times a day due to pinched nerve in lower back causing leg pain. I keep telling my gang not to get old!

  2. Wendell Good

    Might be worthwhile to investigate an older anti-seizure drug called Dilantin. No idea if it would work for you but to the best of my knowledge it does not cause drowsiness.

  3. Robert

    Hi Lloyd,

    Attached is a list of anti-seizure medications. Your prescribed KEPPRA is designated as a ‘Calcium Channel Modulator’. I guess it may be prudent to ask why KEPPRA has been prescribed as opposed to other alternatives? I’m sure your doctor may have an overriding reason for the prescribed medicine. KEPPRA is a quite popular anti-seizure medication.

    Would something else have less side effects? Would it be as effective in counteracting a sodium-deficient induced seizure? Time to have your doctor explain his reasoning for KEPPRA prescription.

  4. Lloyd+Graff

    Hello Robert,

    I will be seeing him soon. We have discussed another option already. He seems to like Keppra and it has worked except for the drowsiness side effect which is significant. Yawn.

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. al

    Lloyd, i have some homework for you.

    on your drive home, look for a homeless guy that is your age. imagine what the next few months are going to be like for him. winter in chicago on the streets.

    then, find one of your readers who has a grandchild with a serious illness. you can stop the childrens ward at a hospital if you need to. imagine dealing with a really sick grandchild.

    next, compare your problems to colin powell, who despite having all the resourses in the world died from covid complications.

    then, go to a nursing home and wander through the alzeimhers unit.

    finally, write a blog where you say where your tiredness fits into the grand scheme of things and then write about all the blessings that you have.


    ps i do like reading your blogs.

  6. Lloyd+Graff

    Al, I can’t disagree with you. Went to my cardiologist today. Top doctors, connections. I have the “good problems “ as my wife and I like to say. Yet still worth writing about, I think.


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