Sunday, June 15, 2014

Water-Only Fast = Seizures

Oh fudgeknuckles. I did it again. The thing is, you'd think I'd remember that I have stress-induced seizures, and here I was doing a several day water-only fast. And the whole point of a fast is to stress the body so that it cleans out damaged cells. Stress, the word is written directly in the description. Fool. I always think I can handle more than I can. But the payoff (a completely regenerated immune system) was so great that I had convinced myself that I could handle it. I believed that I could make it three days and that it would be great. 

But that's not what happened. About two hours after that last post, I was waiting for the iron to heat up to press Dan's shirts, vacuuming the house to kill time, when I started to feel off. I told myself that everyone doing a water-only fast feels off, but I still made my way to the kitchen to eat the second half of my papaya. What I noticed first, was that my right hand and arm were icy cold, and I was having a hard time spooning the papaya meat. I thought to myself that I needed more fruit, that I didn't feel well but needed something gentle on my stomach, but we didn't have anymore. One trick from my doctors is to eat something sweet when you're about to have a seizure, I guess it's supposed to help slow the onset, or perhaps even lessen the intensity. When I have my stress-induced seizures I'm typically hypoglycemic (another reason that I've come to reason why I probably shouldn't fast). I've checked my blood glucose levels a few times just before seizures, knowing I wasn't feeling well, and it's always in the 40-60 range. This time, after having eaten the rest of the papaya I was at 69. Even with the symptoms, I was surprised by the number. I guess I should take that stuff more seriously.

After eating that final half of papaya, I didn't have anything sweet in the house, that I could think of, until I remembered my mom's cherry bourbon jam. It was a miracle that I got that jar open. (I live with a man with the grip of a giant.) I spooned out a bite, then realizing that I was out of my seizure pills, I walked to the bedroom to lay down. Looking back I knew it was coming, ultimately, from the time of the second half of the papaya, but kept pushing to check my blood glucose and get that jam. I wanted ice water too, but knew I was about to hit the floor if I didn't just give up, and retreat to a safe place. It was so cold in there, probably low 50's (we don't have central heat), that I had to get back up and turn on the wall heat. As I laid back down, shivering, I kept thinking, "Breathe. You're fine. You can get through this. This is no different than normal, other than the lack of pills. It won't change anything. Deep breaths." And as the pins and needles in my hand grew stronger and creeped up my right arm, hot tears dripped down my cheeks and landed into the basins of my ears. I stared at the ceiling as things progressed, ever more painful as it reached my shoulder, then my face. When it hit the top of my skull I could have thrown up from the inner hammering, but I was too distracted. I realized in that moment, that there was nowhere else for the energy to go but back into my brain. For many, these seizures often progress into Grand Mal seizures, or turn into a series of episodes. I braced myself. Already it was the most aggressive seizure since my onset seizure back in 2011, a Grand Mal while driving. Usually the tingling stays around my hand and arm, but this one kept progressing until it had engulfed my entire right side. And it hurt, oh God did it hurt. In unchartered territory, I didn't know if I was headed into a more scary state, loss of consciousness, vomiting and choking to death, losing control of my bowels or bladder. I new I was helpless, so I kept taking long, slow breaths. 

As I braced, I twisted my neck to feel the cool pillow on my right side (that half of my body was on fire to the touch). In that moment, the coolness soothed my face and my mind and I had the sense that it was going to be okay. Under my breath, I began whispering over and over and over, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

As the seizure subsided, the pain continued to surge, but slowly lessened into a deep monotonous throb, both down my arm to my hand, and throughout my brain. Usually my seizures don't cause that kind of severe headache.

Not feeling well, still reeling, and aware of the seizure activity swirling in my body, I knew I needed more lorazepam, and I needed it soon. I called Emma into our bedroom (she's not normally allowed - she sheds too much) and asked her to come lay down on our bed to keep me calm. I've read that petting animals soothes the brain. I then called Dan and let him know the basics. He was headed home anyway, so that was handy. I then set down the phone to rest, just talking on the phone seemed to re-trigger the seizure energy in my brain. It was too hard to think, to talk. But I was scared, I knew I needed more pills, but Dan was driving, and I didn't want to bother him. I didn't want to put him in danger, knowing he was probably already speeding to get home, I wasn't about to add a phone call while driving to his tasks. I took several breaths and called my parents and gave the cliffsnotes of my dilemma. They asked for my doctor's name and quickly told me to hang up, that they would handle it. 

For the next 15-20 minutes I went in and out of various states of nausea, and tingling, and shivers, and hot flashes. I remember wondering if I should go find my empty lorazepam bottle and lick the old dust particles for some of the microscopic relief, but it seemed like too much energy to muster. The pain never went away, but did eventually subside. Danny was able to pick up the prescription, the one my parents were able to get renewed, I took a Lorazepam and everything eased up from there. The headache remained for the rest of the night, but I didn't have anymore seizures.

Needless to say, Friday was eventful, and perhaps a clear sign that I'm not meant to challenge my body with several day water-only fasts. Not as a person with stress and hypoglycemic induced seizures. You'd think I would have assumed it before engaging, but it never seems to get through my thick skull (not even through the surgery cracks) that I am not normal. I have special needs. I like to believe that I'm just like everyone else, but it isn't the case. One of these days, I have to accept it.


  1. LOVE YOU JESS!!!! So sorry !

  2. ahhh sorry, live and learn i suppose. intermittant fasting might still do the same sort of job without the heavy stress to your body if this is still a route you'd like to take?

    1. In general, I love me some intermittent fasting, but you're right, several day fasts are probably out the window. I'm not going to push it, though. It seems like I'm ramming my head against a wall, trying to force my body to do something it won't do (calorie restrict/fast). It simply shuts down. It's frustrating, but the body wants what it wants.


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