Nervous and Scared
I am writing to you all today because I am very nervous about something. It may seem funny, or stupid, or crazy, I don't know. But I feel like I can't ever find an answer that will ease my mind.
I am a a healthy Canadian 19 year-old female, in a competitive University program, with a happy loving family, boyfriend, friends, and life in general. I consider myself to be very, very happy and blessed. Being in my first year of University and going to many a party, I ended up contracting mononucleosis. I got it pretty badly, in fact I am still recovering now- I caught it this past November.
A number of things have happened since I got mono that have made me really worried. I want to just throw out there that I am naturally a huge worrier, to the point that I often worry myself sick. I just stress out way too much, I fully admit to that. I drive my family crazy with it sometimes.
When my mono was getting to it's absolute worst, after a ton of bed rest and prolonged anxiety due to missing so much school, I got up and walked around for a few minutes. Suddenly something felt off. I was dizzy, nauseous, lightheaded, and my vision and hearing started to fade. My parents sat me down and held me upright as I fainted. I woke up 30 seconds later and knew exactly what happened. I was very pale and had some very temporary ringing in my ears, but I knew where I was, who I was, what happened, didn't lose any bladder or bowel control, didn't bite my tongue and wasn't fatigued. But- my body did jerk for a few seconds while I was out. Nothing rhythmic, but temporarily before I woke up. I made a fast recovery and was able to walk around fine, but was still rushed to hospital for a suspected seizure. I was absolutely terrified.
When I got there, the ER doctor told me right off the bat it wasn't a seizure- that people who are held upright when they faint will jerk as their bodies second attempt to get blood back to the brain. He sent me to a neurologist just as a precaution, and he deemed the reason was dehydration after taking my blood pressure from sitting to standing. He was not at all concerned, told me this is an isolated incident, and sent me for an EEG just as another precaution. The nurse who was doing the EEG asked what happened to me and also reassured me it was absolutely not a seizure, and this test would verify. The results came back a few days later as normal.
That happened nearly 2 months ago now. With mono, I have had really bad headaches and kid of jolt feelings going through my body as I try to sleep. An internist saw how terrified I was of my symptoms and wanted to give me a CT scan to prove to me that there is nothing wrong with me. He also ordered a round of blood work. All of those tests came back completely clear.
I have had moments with my severe anxiety that seem like a panic attack, where I fear I will pass out again. It is overwhelming sometimes, but I have been getting so much better and so much less anxious, so most of my symptoms are abating.
I just feel like I can never get a clear answer about epilepsy and seizures. I worry that I have partial seizures without knowing it- I google things too much and sometimes I will get blurry vision (turns out I need glasses- got my eyes tested), or I feel dizzy and weak, have a little moment of nervousness/panic, get a tingly jolt in my body (('m particularly worried about that) or sometimes I will have a very brief heightened sense of smell. When these happen, I get terrified I'm having a seizure. Are these partial seizures, or am I being a hypochondriac?
Basically, what I want to know is, if my EEG, CT scan, blood-work are normal, and I have no history of any kind of seizure, brain tumor, infection, injury and I was not born with it, is it possible for me to have epilepsy? Can people develop it out of the blue, or does there need to be some kind of disorder present? I read that EEG's are most often normal for people with epilepsy. I haven't had any new episodes since it first happened.
Sorry if I sound so erratic, I just really need some answers- I figured people with this condition could give me better answers than I am finding on my own.
Hi Katie, welcome to CWE!
I understand your fears -- epilepsy is a strange disorder, and it can strike folks in unusual ways, with symptoms that can overlap with other disorders as well. It can appear out of the blue, although usually the individual has a lowered seizure threshold from one or another secondary factor that makes them vulnerable. It's also true that the EEG is an imperfect test, and can generate false negatives when the abnormal brainwaves originate too deep in the brain, or are too transient to be picked up.
In situations when there is lack of corroboration from EEG, CT, or MRI, doctors have to look at the symptoms themselves in order to make a diagnosis. In your case, I think that the symptoms are not epilepsy-related. The dizziness, the tingly feeling, the headaches, the heightened sense of smell, for instance -- might be partial seizures, but they are also symptoms of migraine, fatigue, and anxiety. The fainting during your bout with mono sounds pretty unpleasant, but given that there was a logical explanation -- the illness-based dehydration -- I wouldn't necessarily consider it a symptom of a seizure or anything beyond the mono itself.
You went through a bad illness/infection (I've had mono myself). It probably disrupted your appetite, your hydration, your sleep, and your sense of well-being. It may be taking awhile to heal on all those fronts. Be patient with yourself. You noted that your symptoms have been getting better as you have been getting less anxious. It think you are on the right track there. Do what you can to be proactive and healthy (eat well/sleep well), and you should be fine.
If for some reason your symptoms get worse (progress in kind or duration) or significantly disrupt your quality of life -- then yes, of course see your doctor. In the meantime, do your best to relax and be well.
Thank you so much for your answer.
I just cannot let go of this anxiety. I have been non-stop asking my family all day..they don't know anything about partial seizures and they keep telling me to stop being hysterical. I asked a doctor about the shocks/tingles recently and she wasn't at all concerned. I will get the tingles only as I am falling asleep, and they go away once I sleep. Same as the other symptoms such as my headache. I guess it is the tiredness from the mono, I dont know. But for some reason I just am so terrified of having epilepsy. I am SUCH a hypochondriac.
Hi, Katie! I'm glad you found us! I hope we can help put your mind at ease. I have simple partial seizures and an anxiety disorder. Two of my children suffer with severe anxiety as well, so I KNOW anxiety. It is AWFUL! When reading your story, I could not relate to your symptoms as simple partials, but it screamed of anxiety. That tingly feeling can be anxiety. And, the heightened sense of smell, too.
You DO NOT have to live with anxiety. There are many, very effective medications available. Treating your anxiety will allow you to identify which symptoms are anxiety-related and which, if any, are not. I honestly think you need to take the anxiety off the table in order to know IF anything else is going on.
You have my sympathy. Anxiety is horrible. I hope you find relief soon. You can live so much more comfortably.
|ct scan, eeg, fainting, scared, seizure|
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