No more violent seizures
Image above: Cathleen graduated on the 6th of November 2018 with a masters degree of criminal justice and criminology
I was preparing to submit my final assignment for my first semester of university, when I suddenly had my first seizure. This unexpected event created a slow ripple of chaos in my life. I begged my GP not to put me on to medication immediately. I justified it, it was a freak incident, I was under pressure, I just wanted it to go away. But seven months later, I had another one.
This time I had no choice, I had to start taking medication, as well as start attending an extensive number of medical appointments. I had to see my GP, complete a bunch of blood tests, see a specialist, then a neurologist, then complete an EEG and MRI. From all these long extensive appointments, there was nothing, no reason, no explanation, no hint as to why this was suddenly happening to me.
As the weeks went on, the side effects of the medication took hold. I began hallucinating, and no, not the fun kind. I was vividly seeing bugs of all sizes, shapes and colours around me at different times and they could happen anywhere. This was extremely unusual, so my doctors agreed, and I was switched to the next medication.
This began an ugly, painful cycle of being put on a medication, experiencing the worst side effects, experiencing an increase in the frequency and violence of my seizures, my doctors would agree to change to the next medication and the cycle restarted. This pattern went on for five years, which is really a blur to me. Some of the things that affected me the most were, memory loss, fits of rage, inability to string sentences together, extreme exhaustion, severe anxiety, physical injuries and emotional pain from the frequency of seizures which at times was as often as once a fortnight, and extreme, rapid weight gain. As a young woman this really affected me the most. I also managed to have severely (and deadly) allergic rashes from some of the medication I was taking, my skin would puff up and break out in the reddest, itchiest rashes you can imagine, layers of skin would peel off, just randomly, especially if I was anxious. Some of these have left scars.
I felt like a test subject, I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t recognise myself, I felt more and more like I was losing my mind and myself. The worst part was, everyone kept telling me they just wanted what was best for me, and proceeded to make decisions about changing, continuing and increasing my medications. But no one listened about how that was affecting me; how confusing it was, how scary it was, how lonely it was and how much of my life I felt I was losing, along with myself. One doctor even told me I was a hypochondriac, explaining I was making myself have the reactions because I couldn’t accept the fact I was having seizures. As we ran out of medications to test out, I underwent a desensitisation process, where week after week I would have to go and get injections to build up a tolerance to one of the medications. This unsurprisingly, did not work.
I was beyond frustrated, I had doubled in size since my first seizure and I couldn’t recall the events happening in my life. It seemed like a lifetime ago my GP first looked at me and told me everything would be okay, that there were plenty of options these days, so this would only be a tiny speed bump in my life. But it wasn’t. It had consumed my life. On top of the side effects, I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t drink alcohol, I could hardly go out and feel safe. I felt terrified to explain myself to friends let alone strangers, finding a stable job was practically impossible. I felt like I had completely stopped, but everything around me just continued going.
I was 24 when I finally made the decision to safely come off from my medication. I found a neuropsychologist who agreed to see me, however at this time my anxiety was crippling. Interacting with people was difficult, I found it hard to concentrate and articulate what was going on in my head. I would have to wake up early every morning to make sure I had time to vomit for 15-20 minutes before going to one of my jobs. He helped me immensely with cognitive behavioural therapy over a period of roughly 18 months. I tackled a lot of the psychological impacts the medication caused, but I continued to have seizures, every 7-8 months. For a long time, I considered this acceptable. It was just something that happened every now and then and I could avoid properly dealing with it.
Soon enough, they increased, occurring every 4-5 months. While I probably could have justified this to myself and avoided facing the situation, two had occurred at my job and I realised I couldn’t pretend it didn’t exist or would just stop one day all on its own. I began considering things I hadn’t previously.
I had contracted the Epstein Barr Virus approximately a year and a half before I had my first seizure. It was the weirdest experience of my life, and I felt like a completely different person after having it. I became tired, reserved, anxious as though someone sucked the life out of me. I was surprised when google found Gary’s article “The Relationship Between Exposure to Epstein Barr Virus & Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis A focus on EBV; the liver and copper”. I had an old blood test from when I was on medication, which revealed I had high copper levels. I decided to email Gary and see if he would take me on. I completed a hair mineral analysis test which revealed so much about what was happening in my body. Before I began taking any supplements, I came off the contraceptive pill. I had originally been put on it when I was 16 as I had ovarian cysts, one which burst.
Image above: Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis that is consistent with post-viral issues. It indicates unusual patterns with cobalt, molybdenum, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium that may result in neurotransmitter disturbances, possible methylation problems and extreme fatigue, as well as weight gain.
I began taking the supplements, initially I had three seizures, once a month, coinciding with my period. Once we made this link, Gary made alterations and I have now been seizure free for four months! I have much more clarity in myself, I can remember things, and even small annoying brain fog moments have stopped. We have replicated the hair mineral analysis test to see how much has changed and determine how to move forward.
While I am still cautious not to get my hopes sky high, I am so incredibly appreciative and excited from the opportunity Gary has provided me through listening to me and treating me. I wish I hadn’t avoided facing this for so long, but now that I have, I know I cannot accept it as that thing that happens every now and then. This experience has enabled me to get myself back, and it feels as though I can finally take my life off pause and catch up to the rest of the world.