Jodanna suffered from a significant seizure Friday, February 23d. Her stroke was 20 months prior, to the day. She was planning to have lunch with a friend at Sopa Thai in Nevada City. When Jo’s friend arrived to pick her up, she found Jo on the floor of her living room, unresponsive.
The ambulance took Jo to the ER. Jo spent several days at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital before the doctors decided to transport her down to Sacramento for an in-depth electroencephalogram (EEG). An EEG is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain.
The first couple of days after the seizure, Jo was heavily medicated and was in and out of consciousness. While she had some ability to speak, her speech was confused and unclear. By day three, she started to come out of the fog. Her speech improved, her expression started to return, and she was able to get out of bed and walk with assistance.
When a person has a stroke, the injury to the brain can manifest itself in various ways. As we know, stroke can affect movement, speech, behavior, memory and emotions.
What might be less obvious about stroke’s effects is the increased chance of developing seizures. Seizures are brain malfunctions.
During a seizure, the brain cells fire large bursts of energy, a departure from the normal electrical pattern. The seizure may last only a few seconds or minutes and trigger involuntary body movements, strange sensations or blackouts.
Seizures occur whenever there is a scar in the brain. When stroke injures part of the brain, it leaves a scar, and this scar can then trigger abnormal electrical activity that can start a seizure. Following a stroke some stroke survivors, about 1 in 5, will experience a seizure. Seizures are a sign of brain injury and are caused by sudden disorganized electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can range from minor tingling sensations to spasms, convulsions and losing consciousness.
A seizure often has four distinct phases: Prodromal Symptoms, Auras, Ictal and Postictal Stages.
- The first phase — the prodromal stage — involves mostly emotional signals.
- In an aura, alterations in activity, emotions, hearing, smell, taste, and visual perception are involved.
- The seizure itself is the ictus. What happens to the person during the ictal stage depends on where the disruption of neural activity occurs.
- Following a seizure, the person enters into the postictal state. Drowsiness and confusion are commonly experienced during this phase.
Currently, Jodanna is experiencing the postictal stage. This is the recovery period after the seizure. Some people recover immediately, while others may take minutes, hours, days or weeks to feel like their usual self. The type of seizure, as well as what part of the brain the seizure impacts, affects the recovery period, how long it may last and what may occur during the recovery period. Jodanna’s doctors have located the part of Jo’s brain that triggered the seizure, but there is still more to learn about her seizure.
Although research has led to a greater understanding of how to treat seizures, no cure has been found. Physicians focus on controlling seizures with medicine while keeping side effects to a minimum. Once a seizure occurs, getting help quickly is essential. Promptly treating seizures seems to lower the risk of having more seizures.
With most seizures, the effects last only a few seconds or minutes, and normal physical and mental functions are restored. A seizure lasting longer than five minutes, for practical purposes, should be treated as very serious. Immediate medical help is necessary.
If you see someone having a seizure with convulsions or loss of consciousness, here’s how you can help:
- Roll the person on one side to prevent choking on any fluids or vomit.
- Cushion the person’s head.
- Loosen any tight clothing around the neck.
- Keep the person’s airway open. If necessary, grip the person’s jaw gently and tilt the head back.
- Do not restrict the person from moving unless in danger.
- Do not put anything into the person’s mouth, not even medicine or liquid. Contrary to widespread belief, people cannot swallow their tongues during a seizure or any other time.
- Remove any sharp or solid objects that the person might hit during the seizure.
- Note how long the seizure lasts and what symptoms occurred so you can tell a doctor or emergency personnel if necessary.
- Stay with the person until the seizure ends.
Fortunately, seizures in themselves are usually painless, and they don’t get worse over time. Most of the time, a seizure is survivable. Usually, it will pass and the person wakes up. The problem occurs when a seizure occurs and they are driving a car, or they fall down a flight of stairs, or they get injured during the seizure.
Jodanna was in the hospital for a week, she is home now. She’s also back in therapy to recover from this setback. She’s very happy to be home.
Welcome home Jo.