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