The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit – A Whole New World

“Bring some books and your laptop.”

The nurse from the EMU made it sound like a vacation.

Starting March 21, 2016 I’ll be spending five to 10 glorious days in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. During my stay, I’ll be hooked up to an EEG and EKG monitor while under 24-hour video surveillance. Complete with a close range microphone.

Similar to the Big Brother house, except with doctors, nurses, and technicians hoping for seizures.

Nov 2015, EEG
Nov 2015, EEG

Though I don’t seizure often – last time I was near the 26th month mark – my epileptologist is concerned because I’m on enough anticonvulsants to sedate a baby hippopotamus.

I’m a two-time brain tumour survivor. After a tonic-clonic seizure at 15 years old, I was diagnosed with a nickel-sized, non-malignant, grade one, left-frontal glioma. Whew, non-malignant. Nothing bad can happen once that bugger’s removed, right?

Wrong. After a neurosurgeon tinkered in my head for almost seven hours, the seizures a year later while I was in chemistry class. Another tumour was discovered in grade 12 – and I was back under the knife.

Don't cut the red one!
Don’t cut the red one!

Today, I’m living a healthy, normal, happy life with the odd hiccup. But it’ll knock the wind out of me. My last seizure on July 15, 2015 scared the s**t out of me. Since 2008, my seizures occur after I wake up. The last one happened when I was alone.

I don’t have seizure “triggers.” They just barge into my life. Since alcohol is supposed to be a trigger, I could recommend shooter night in Tammy’s Room. As a life-long non-drinker, why not line up some shooters? But I’d doubt my epileptologist will line Tequila Sunrises and Prairie Fires on my side table. And who am I kidding. I don’t even know how to do shooters.

pills - egg
That’s a lot of AEDs

But do I want to spend five to 10 days in a baby bumper padded bed? With a nearby “event button” when I feel an oncoming seizure. Having my meds tapered down. Being sleep deprived and exhausted. Am I scared?

Define scared. Those five to 10 days could improve my life. It’s worth if it my medications can be streamlined. Or if I’m deemed a candidate for surgery to eradicate my seizures. If nothing registers, at least I’d know. Rather than wondering “what if” when I’m 75 years old, trying to swallow enough medications to sedate – by then – an adult hippopotamus.

Because “what ifs” suck.