Epilepsy in the Time of Covid

A surgical mask

So, about six weeks ago I was working from home, as I’ve been doing since March. I started to feel really tired and distracted. “Maybe I’m coming down with something,” I thought. So I called it quits and took the rest of the day off.

The next morning, I woke up, drowsy and distracted again, with a mild fever. By this time I was pretty sure about what was going on, so I called my doctor for a telehealth appointment. Halfway through the call, I started feeling queasy. The doctor actually called my wife’s phone to have her come check on me – she was afraid I would pass out. By the end of the call, I was in quarantine for two weeks, with instructions to go to the emergency department if anything got worse.

It got worse. The next morning I was at the hospital, being tested for Covid. The test came back negative, thank goodness, but I still felt awful and I was still in quarantine. Symptoms were mostly gone by the end of a week, and then I was just dealing with the tedium of being cooped up in a small back room. And I had the leisure and energy to think about what might have happened.

Obviously, being sick puts a good bit of stress on the body. And many of us with epilepsy find that stress—physical or mental—can trigger seizures. An article on the Epilepsy Foundation of America says that “A common seizure trigger in people with epilepsy is being sick with some type of acute illness or infection. Head colds, lung infections or sinus infections (caused by viruses or bacteria) can often lead to a change in seizures.”

A common seizure trigger in people with epilepsy is being sick with some type of acute illness or infection. Head colds, lung infections or sinus infections (caused by viruses or bacteria) can often lead to a change in seizures.

My seizure control is usually not that great. I thought that maybe between the stress of the illness (Covid or not), the stress of boredom, and the stress of having to work during quarantine, I would probably have a seizure. I got lucky this time; but it could have happened.

All this is to encourage all you guys to look after your health—especially now. Both the Epilepsy Foundation of America and the UK’s Epilepsy Action have comprehensive pages on epilepsy, Covid, and what to be aware of. Check them out, stay safe, and stay seizure-free!

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