Keppra – levetiracetam

“Well for your age group – its the safest”

       And they are right. At the reproductive age of 24, it has been deemed safe (will link credible article below and there are more articles on that site) than most medications used to treat epilepsy. I even volunteered to be in a trial to study the side effects of Keppra on pregnancy. But man does it make you agitate/angry/aggressive/overall everywhere on the emotional spectrum. 
     Keppra – levetiracetam: onset rapid. Duration 12 hours. Peak 1-1.5 hours. Common side effects: aggression, agitation, anger, anxiety, apathy, denationalization, depression, dizziness, hostility, irritability, personality disorder, and weakness. Life-threatening side effects: Suicidal thoughts, Steven-johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis. Used for: partial onset seizures, primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, status epilepticus, and neonatal seizures. Can be given by mouth in tablet or oral solution form or via IV. This has been engraved into my mind due to school and being on the medication. I know enough to know the drug can cause these side effects for others but when it comes to myself, I hate admitting the medication has changed me. I wish I was immune to these side effects but it is a sacrifice I take for wanting a “safe” drug. As stated in a previous blog, B6 – also known as pyridoxine, is supposed to help even out the side effects. I am really hoping so because the last two days have been rough.
     I got upset with a worker at a local grocery store because she said I could not go through the express line although I did qualify for the express lane. I got upset with a fast food worker because they forgot my drink and swore at me under their breath. Usually I am very nice and would never say anything to them out of respect but man did I sail right into them. There was no holding back and in the moment I just did not care. Once I left, I felt a little bad and embarrassed I acted that way. I feel bad blaming the medication but honestly since they upped it I just have zero tolerance for people. It is not like I can say “sorry, the meds made me do it” although it may be true. Cannot wait to get through this phase…if it is a phase. 
    My memory is still having some issues. Not too sure if its still from the accident or the medication..time will tell
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(Photo credit: Self – thanks to apps)

As promised, here is a link to one website (out of many) where you can find credible research articles on current medications – such as Keppra – and other things going on in medicine/medical field: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854744/ 

Let me know your experiences!

 

My Reality

This is my Life.

        I have been living with Epilepsy for 5 years. It gets easier I suppose. It is never “easy” per say but you meet people; inspiring people..and sometimes you are able to give that back. Sometimes you educate; which I strongly believe in. Many people I have met get worried or afraid for me when I tell them I have Epilepsy. Some people start treating me like I am a child who cannot do anything on their own. Then there are some people who avoid it all together like it does not exist. Get to know us. Get to know me.
       2011 is when it began. My first seizure was known as a grand mal or a tonic-clonic seizure. What this means is, yes this is your “classic” seizure. I blank out, scream, fall, and shake. They usually last, for me that is, around 3-5 minutes. Yes, I bite my tongue – please do not put anything in my mouth. I have actually bitten off a small piece of my tongue in the past…and again recently. I will go through my postictal phase where I will respond and answer you normally but will not recall it at all. This actually tricked a nurse once and I ended up in a medicine induced sleep for 12 hours along with a repeat seizure. Eventually, I will consciously come back, but I wont remember your name or how I got there. I wont remember anything prior to the event until the next day. I will never remember what happened immediately before or during the event. That is the basic run down.
       Back to 2011, my seizures were not properly control. I was having multiple tonic-clonic seizures a month. I was given this wonderful (using wonderful loosely) medication called Keppra or more commonly written as levetiracetam. I say wonderful because yes it is wonderful for women of a reproductive age. It does not effect your fertility as harshly and better on pregnancy (I have birthed two children while on Keppra, we will talk about that later) than other anticonvulsants. But, as any other medication, there are side effects. For me, it made me incredibly sleepy. I have to nap now and then. It also screws with my mood – I go through really low depressive funks and some days I am perfectly happy and go lucky. It makes me incredibly irritable – I literally yelled at a stranger in Stop and Shop which I would never do otherwise because that is extremely rude. I get angry for no real reason at my poor boyfriend – bless his soul. I also feel it slowed me down with school. Reading and focusing became difficult and my comprehension sucked in comparison to before. It also became harder to recall information. I actually weaned myself off of Keppra because I hated how it made me feel and then my seizures came right back. Time to find alternative coping mechanisms.
       Some studies and people claim that vitamin B6 is supposed to help with the emotional/psychological side effects. I never tried it before but I am now and will update if I find that it works – so far no but it has only been 3 days. My neurologist actually mentioned it before I had a chance too so this might be a plausible tool. I have always taken folic acid with Keppra because it helps fertility wise and to keep the baby safe from neurotube defects – which it successfully did so for my girls.  I also started fish oil this time around to promote brain health. 
        Back to basic history, after my first neurologist completely overdosed me on Keppra and I could literally not remember the day before or how to do basic tasks and found a second neurologist – Keppra worked for my seizures. Until I got pregnant then I would have a seizure immediately before I found out and after the pregnancy when my hormone levels dropped. When I decided to start going back to school in 2013, I weaned myself off because I felt like I would not be able to keep up. I was officially off Keppra at some point in 2014-2015 and slowly the seizures came back but as nocturnal ones – still involved tongue biting. Then I started to get really worried after my first “typical” seizure for me occurred. 
        My children were in the bathtub, I was bathing them. Can you guess? I had a seizure. I could not remember even giving them a bath. Luckily I was at my parents and after a while they thought it was strange I was not coming out and it got oddly quiet. No one knew how long I was out for and thank goodness my girls were okay. This is my reality and now theirs.
    I tried making an appointment with my neurologist but when it rains, it pours. I could not get in with him and I also apparently owed them money because they misfiled a bill with my insurance and did not want to listen to me or my mom and I did not have money to pay. So I decided to take it easy and hope this was just a fluke. Then my recent one happened after a few more questionable nocturnal seizures.
    I drove my car into a brick chimney attached to someone’s house – essentially a brick wall. I had a seizure behind the wheel, thankfully kids not inside, and crashed. I could of very easily lost my life that day, but someone is clearly looking out over me. I do not remember the events leading up, do not remember the crash, and woke up in an ambulance confused before passing back out again and waking up in a hospital. Now my oldest is afraid to leave me alone, she will not sleep on her own, I had to drop some classes, I can no longer graduate this year, and aspects of my life are now in limbo. This is my reality.
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                                  (Photo Credit: https://pennspeaksforepilepsy.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/epilepsy-awareness-month/)

Please feel free to introduce your self and share your stories whether it is of yourself or a loved one! The only was to raise awareness is by making conversation! 

The Normal One

Yes, the “Normal” One..that was my one job – to be normal.


       For a little background history, I come from a medical mystery family. An unknown genetic mishap has caused varying degrees of physical and mental disabilities for the males in my family; my two younger brothers included. I watched and went with my parents to various doctor appointments, testing, genetic counseling sessions, and so on. I was introduced to this wonderful world of medicine quite early and learned quite a bit on my travels. I was the “normal” one. I was not cognitively delayed and was placed in honors and advanced placement classes. I was passionate about music and played multiple instruments for school and the community. I even danced too. But then it happened. 
    2011 I endured the storm. I had my first episode, moment, whichever way people would like to term it. I had my first seizure. I have heard people talk about how they can sense them coming, they have a feeling, smell a weird scent, or they taste something in their mouth. For me, they come without warning. I am fine and within the next moment..my world is black. My memory is erased. I do not know where I am and I will not know who you are. Slowly reality will settle back in and embarrassment, fear, and sadness take over. This is my storm. This is my reality.
   I will never forget the look on my father’s face or the fear in my friends’ eyes who witnessed it. His perfect daughter and their normal friend was not so normal anymore. We hoped it was a fluke, a sickness, something..but it was not. It became a way of life. It became Epilepsy. 

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(Photo Credit: Self – honestly; bought and planted this flower)