My big diagnosis

Michelle with an electroencephalogram (EEG) attached to her scalp. This is a test to detect electrical activity of the brain using small, flat metal discs (electrodes) - a test that proved inconclusive.

Michelle with an electroencephalogram (EEG) attached to her scalp. This is a test to detect electrical activity of the brain using small, flat metal discs (electrodes) - a test that proved inconclusive.

I have been diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of tests, hospitals, and even a neurosurgeon after a nocturnal seizure at the end of May robbed me of a swath of memories and left me with a chunk missing out of my tongue.

I am currently taking my time relearning lost information, re-introducing myself to people I’ve forgotten, taking medication to (hopefully) forestall further seizures, and coming to grips with living with this diagnosis. My thought processes are slower - both following and participating in conversations - with words sometimes hard to grasp and understand.

Needless to say, I didn’t see this coming. I’ve been dealing with menopausal symptoms this year and taking hormone replacements to help ease hot flushes and mood disorders, and it seems, conflating some epilepsy symptoms with menopausal ones. The deja vu I’ve associated with menopause turns out to be a classic example of seizures or auras indicating epilepsy where I just thought they were my special flavour of hot flashes.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever had deja vu, but to me it has a very distinct set of sensations to make me feel very strongly that I have lived this moment before. Since my seizure at the end of May, I have not had another deja vu, but I have had the feeling that I’ve meet new acquaintances before - as if they are extremely familiar - but this is the first time we've met: my neurosurgeon (I have one of those now), doctors in the emergency ward, nurses taking blood samples - I felt as if I had known them in the past. It took me a little while to work out this was “all in my head” but it was quite unsettling at the time and now I’m pleased to say it’s gone away as I relearn my life.

I have forgotten all sorts of things I don’t even know I’ve forgotten: my sister visiting for the weekend in May; The Proclaimers concert with my cousin Kristy in April; my niece’s graduation; a number of other seizures in the last few months. My ex-husband Greg has become my memory-keeper, and has been coming to Doctor’s appointments with me so he can repeat this new version of my medical history I can’t recall so they know what’s going on.

I’m writing this here so you know what’s going on, but not so you’ll worry.

Please don't worry.

My family are an amazing support system. I’m extremely fortunate to have wonderful, generous, capable people around me. Work has been incredibly supportive and generous. I’m also extremely fortunate that I’ve not had a stroke, or dementia, or alzheimers or other brain damaging diseases which would be way, way worse.

What I have is a relatively typical, age-appropriate (turns out) disorder that can be treated and managed successfully with proven pharmaceuticals. I seem to be responding well and getting better and more "me" every day.

I’m also writing this here in case I have another seizure and need to remember this memory. Yay for personal blogs, right?