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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Seizures triggered by diet?

I think I've found another of my seizure triggers: food (and/or nutrition.) For various reasons, I know that it is possible for diet to both cause and prevent seizures (depending on the situation)

It seems like a lot of these seizures are occurring when I haven't eaten in a while. I'm not necessarily hungry, just haven't eaten in a while.

I noticed a while ago that it seemed as if my seizure almost correlated with my workouts, but the relationship wasn't quite there. I didn't look into it heavily, but I did look enough to make the decision that "nah, I don't think that has anything to do with it." I still don't think that they are correlated... at least not directly.

Working out means that you need to increase intake. It makes your body require extra nutrients in order to maintain the energy level that you are used to. Specifically, working out mainly requires extra carbs and extra protein. I know most of you are thinking... "but I've always heard that low carb diets are the best!" Not quite true. Carbohydrates give you energy. If you workout without increasing your carbohydrate intake, your body is going to be lacking necessary energy. If you are trying to lose weight with diet alone, and no extra exercise, then a low carb diet is probably better.

A quick science/nutrition lessen:

Carbohydrates: There are 2 main types of carbohydrates - simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are things that your body can break down easily and use as short term energy. Complex carbs take longer for your body to break down, and therefore provide long term energy.

Some sources:

Protein: the main function of protein is to help your body repair itself and grow.

Before a workout, you should have a mix of carbs and some protein. The simple carbs will give your body extra energy that will help kick-start your workout, some complex carbs will help sustain the workout, and protein will help your body to start to repair itself as quickly as possible. One of the best pre-workout meals is a PB&J sandwich. The PB provides the protein, the jelly provides simple carbs, and the bread provides complex carbs.

After a workout you generally need more protein than anything else. While working out you are literally damaging your muscle by causing microscopic tears. The muscles repair themselves over time, and are stronger after this repair process. Extra protein will accelerate this process, as well as allowing the muscle to repair itself more thoroughly, increasing strength just that much more.

The difference between these two requirements are why there are different protein bars for before a workout and after a workout.

So why all of this diet and science mumbo jumbo? Well, as a lot of you know, I've been working out a lot lately. Mostly walking (and running when my leg allows me to) and some lifting here and there. My body is in a constant state of searching for energy and repairing recent muscle damage from those workouts. Since it is constantly looking for these things, I need to constantly provide them. Constantly.

I seriously try to eat once every couple hours. Not necessarily a meal, but some fruit or a snack of some sort. Sometimes a "snack" is a sandwich, sometimes it's pretzels, sometimes it's whatever I can find. But eating that often is not always possible. When my body requires this fuel and can't find it, it doesn't know what to do. Lack of sleep and exhaustion are common seizure triggers... so my guess is that lack of carbs and/or protein may exhaust my body, possibly to the point where I start seizing.

Now all of this is just a theory... "A game theory"... Oh wait, this isn't YouTube (look it up.) But although it's just a theory, I think it has a lot of merit. It's seriously hard to eat enough to provide my body with what it needs. I am not usually tired, which means that I'm probably getting enough carbs, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm getting enough protein. I said at/after camp that I didn't think I was getting enough protein, and that may have been causing the (many) seizures that I had at camp. That food was extremely lacking in the protein department, which is what brought that thought to mind. If I'm not getting enough protein, then my body could be overworking itself in an attempt to heal and, boom, seizure.

Now the question is, how do I provide myself with constant protein throughout my work day?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Treatment Options

As I sit here, having yet another seizure, I have to think about my future options.

I started on Vimpat last week, bringing the medicine count up to 3... Keppra, Lamictal and Vimpat. I am currently on 100mg of Vimpat and will double that to 200 a week from today. If that doesn't help (which it currently isn't) my doctor wants to do a long term EEG. For those who don't know, a long term EEG means that I would sit in the hospital for up to a week with wires connected to my head, waiting to have a seizure.

I think that his thought process is to see if I'm a candidate for a VNS. Again, I'm sure that a lot of you don't know what a VNS. Without going into a lot of detail, and doing what I can to explain while seizing, VNS stands for Vagus Nerve Simulator. It is implanted into your chest (around where they put a pacemaker) and it occasionally sends an electrical pulse to your Vagus nerve, which connects up into your brain. The electrical stimulation to this nerve can prevent seizures. If you do have a seizure, it can be activated by swiping a special magnet over the device and effectively stop the seizure, or at least lessen the duration of the seizure.

So after all of that, it sounds like a great idea. It would potentially help with my seizures (if I'm a candidate) so why not? Well, it is a surgical procedure to implant it. From what I hear it's outpatient surgery, so it's not incredibly intense, but it's still surgery. As a coworker pointed out to me, removal of wisdom teeth is also outpatient surgery, but that hurts like hell for about a week.

Not only that, but it requires a new battery every 4 years. So that means another surgery every 4 years to replace the battery.

The question I have to answer for myself: Am I having enough seizures to do this? Is it worth it in the end? I know none of you can answer that for me, but I need to think about it. Before I try the VNS, I'd like to wait until the medical marijuana goes into effect and try that. We'll see though. It's been a long battle so far, and I'm not about to stop fighting.

PS - it's been about an hour since this seizure started, and it's still going.