In March of 2010 I received repeated trauma to the head, face. Almost a year later on March 9, 2011 I experienced my first seizure.
The whole day was strange. I had no appetite or thirst, and had a lot of trouble swallowing. I was emotional, paranoid and a little confused. I noticed was sweating more than usual, and felt short of breath; but I did not make anything of it. As it continued, I started to notice my heart fluttering and a pain starting to twist inside, below the navel.
I felt something rise, like a knot or a ball of tension that moved along the right-center of my abdomen right beneath my appendectomy scar. The tension started to rise, like inAlien, moving up my torso and began pushing into my lungs. I stood up, shocked. My right arm was tingling, and going numb.
I couldn't breathe at all. I thought maybe I needed sugar, so I tried to drink orange juice, but nothing went down; I still wasn't able to take in any breaths. After about a minute of being on my feet and not breathing the tension continued to push up along my sternum, rib cage and behind my right pectoral until it started to send a great deal of pressure up into my head.
I heard the Ocean and felt cobwebs on my face; I knew enough to sit down on the couch. I slouched, doubled-over like a shrimp and everything went dark. I was worried, scared. I was in Europe and had no health insurance; I thought I was dying and wondered what my family would say and where my body would go.
In the darkness I felt consumed and small. Someone told me 'no, wake up!' and suddenly I shot-up, stiff as a board, into a full plank position kicking the hefty coffee table out of the way in front of me.
I began shaking like I was being tasered, my eyes were now open and focused on the light in the ceiling. My wife walked in front of it, and she looked like an angel with a smeared rainbow emitting from the top of her head. In that moment we had the most intimate conversation I’ve ever experience; only nothing was said.
Since March 2011 I have experienced three separate episodes, the most recent being on May 14, 2013. I'd like to share some of the research I have found and some that I’ve paid for while seeking my own answers.
When I have these Transient Ischemic Attacks (Paroxysmal attacks) I am somewhat aware of what’s happening, but it’s not me. I feel connected to everything around me, but also feel like I'm being slowed down or underwater. The stream of consciousness is like a waking dream and I often see the Constellation Orion (it's seven brightest points) if I close my eyes during one of these "Mini-Strokes."
So, what are Transient Ischemic Attacks?
A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is also known as a “Mini-Stroke.”
According to Dr. Michael Hatlelid, a “(TIA) is an episode of acute brain malfunction, usually from a blockage in a small or big artery to the brain. A true TIA leaves no damage in the brain, whereas a stroke does.” (1)
One way to tell the difference between a TIA and a stroke is in the duration: a TIA usually lasts 20-30 minutes, whereas a stroke is the same symptoms drawn-out over a longer period of time, which results in infarction (tissue death). (1)
Typical symptoms of TIA include a pattern of: sudden blindness (total or partial), numbness and possible weakness on one side of the face and body, slurring of speech, headache, difficulty using the correct words, sudden dizziness or incoordination of the limbs. (1)
Dr. Hatlelid goes on to say that “Diagnosis of a TIA is based on the symptoms and exam abnormalities noted above, resolving quickly. We evaluate a TIA and stroke very similarly. Both require being seen in an emergency room for evaluation.” (1)
As of 2002 "in the United States, estimates of the annual incidence of transient ischemic attacks that come to medical attention vary from 200,000 to 500,000. The true incidence may be much higher, because many apparent episodes never come to medical attention. On the basis of the results of a large nationwide survey, more than 5 million Americans have been given a diagnosis of transient ischemic attack.” (2)
The major risk factors for TIA and Strokes are well known: high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (a kind of irregular heartbeat), abnormal LDL know as ‘bad cholesterol’ and smoking.
What’s less known are the causes, triggers of TIA and other Paroxysmal attacks.