Feb 9, 2006

Arm Seizures?

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the mass email. I just wanted to share a little about something going on in my life right now. Here's some history first… a few months ago (Nov 05, I think) I experienced a very strange sensation in my right arm. I can't recall exactly what I was doing at the time, but my arm began to convulse on its own. It was highly unusual yet very fascinating. The episode lasted just a few seconds. It happened again soon after that, but I began to notice that, somehow, I knew it was going to start going bezerk. I just had this feeling that came over me and I knew it was coming. The action my arm makes is kind of like the motion your arm would make if you were shaking someone's hand. It moves back and forth, or up and down, about two inches one direction and then two the other. While it's doing its thing, I can't stop it. I have a little control on my hand, but I cannot stop my arm from moving. I'll have an episode maybe once up to three times a day… sometimes back to back days and other times a few days or even a week or more between episodes. I mentioned this to my doctor one day while I was seeing her for back pain, but she thought we should control and treat the back pain first. About a month later, the back pain was better and I had several episodes over a weekend – I decided it would be best to come see her again.

I told the doctor what I have explained to you… she said that it sounds like I am having seizures in my arm. "Seizures?" I thought… I would have never thought to call it that. She also said that my ability to know in advance, that a seizure was coming, is called an aura. I had heard this once before when I explained all of this to a doctor friend of mine, but hearing it again from this doctor made it really sink in. She gave me a referral to a Neurologist and told me to follow up with them.

Feb 1 I went to see a neurologist at Andrews Air Force Base. I met with a student doctor, an AF 2nd Lieutenant, and then met with the attending, an AF Major. The Major pretty much did a lot of the muscle tension and reflex tests that the 2LT did, but he noticed something the 2LT missed, there was a slight over-reaction in the way my right lower arm was reacting to a reflex test. He said that my reaction was quite jumpy and similar to that of a little girl (no jokes here folks.) The left side made a small reaction, the right side a bigger and jumpier reaction. He said that this indicates that my brain is, for some reason, reacting differently with my right arm. And as we all know from biology, the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. He said that there are many things that could make the brain have a reaction like this: tumor, scar tissue, trauma, or just weird nerves. He said that an MRI would let them see if there is anything visibly affecting my brain. He also said that an electroencephalogram (EEG) could tell them if there is any abnormal brain activity going on. He also prescribed some medication to see if the seizures stop. I have an EEG scheduled for Mon Feb 6 at 10am at Andrews AFB, and I have an MRI scheduled for Thu Feb 16 at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center.

I also started taking my new medication last night, Trileptal. I hear it is a relatively new medication. I read quite a bit about it and it looks like the side effects relate to making one drowsy and such, but I took one last night and I didn't feel too bad. I'm taking one a day at night before bed for five days and then two a day after that. I think the one I'll have to take during the day will affect me more. After all the tests, I'll schedule a follow up appt and they'll tell me what's next.

We don't have a whole lot of time left here in DC. I just hope that they can figure out what's wrong before we have to leave or TX. But I know that once we get there, there will be more tests by the civilian doctors to make sure that they agree with the military doctors' findings.

UPDATE: I wrote the above last Thursday. While writing it, I lost it (or thought I did) because the network flaked out on me and I wasn't able to recover it until Tuesday. So, I went to my EEG appointment on Monday and the test was done with no complications. Unfortunately, I won't get the results until my follow up appointment, which is now scheduled for Mar 2. I'm taking the medication twice a day and it is not presenting any complications during the day - other than making me a bit tired if I don't move around while at work. I haven't had any seizures at all either. Now, I do have a new thing going on though, my left lower eyelid twitches. It does this most of the day, on its own. Nothing seems to trigger it. Apparently, it is called Myokymia. It seems to come on for a while and then go away on its own. I read that it can come on due to excessive alcohol of caffeine (that's not it) or fatigue or stress. I have to admit that we haven't been getting enough sleep and this whole arm thing has me just a little stressed out. Hmm.. there are a lot of things stressing me out these days.. Holly's condition, going back home. I just need to chill out and take everything one step at a time. The twitch is not life threatening, but it sure is dang annoying. Sometimes, it twitches so much my whole eyeball moves. It's like an eye-quake!

Anyway, if you could please pray for healing for Holly and I, wisdom for the doctors, and peace and relief for us from the stresses of our ailments and relocating again, I'd appreciate it.

Thanks for listening and I'll update you soon,

-Roger
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