So I’m Scared

I tell myself it’s OK to be scared, epilepsy is a scary condition. That doesn’t make it any better.

I went to my neurologist yesterday morning. I’m having side effects from my current medication, Trileptal. More so, it seems, since I’ve lost weight. I was definitely overweight, I needed those 20 pounds gone; but the less weight, the more I’m affected by the amount of drugs I’m taking. My last set of blood tests showed my Trileptal levels normal, but on the very high end of normal even before taking my morning meds. Usually, a reading like that indicates that there’s a good reason to decrease medication levels.

At the same time, I’m still having a few breakthrough partial seizures a year. Not many – but three or four a year is way more than I’d rather have. And way more than people close to me feel happy about.

So, after discussing all the issues, the neuro and I decided to change my medication. Vimpat is a new drug on the market for partial-onset seizures like mine. I’m going to gradually move from the Trileptal to the Vimpat over the course of the next several weeks, first raising my dose of Vimpat gradually, and then (only then) decreasing or maybe even eliminating the Trileptal.

That’s a frightening thought. What if I get so over-medicated I can’t think straight? What if I don’t respond to the Vimpat and start seizing again? What if I can’t drive for six months? Or a year? I haven’t had a generalized seizure in over 11 years; I don’t want to break that streak. And I’m petrified. I’ve told you guys what having a seizure feels like. DO NOT WANT. WOULD NOT ORDER AGAIN.

Rationally, I can tell myself, “It’s OK. I’ve done this before.” I’ve switched from Dilantin, to Depakote, to Tegretol, to Keppra and Lamictal, to Trileptal. Each time without any noticeable problem. I even have an appointment with my neuro in 5 weeks to check on how things are going. So there’s no reason to believe this time will be any different.

Unfortunately, my mind doesn’t need a reason to believe anything. I walked out of the doctor’s office this morning, head high, totally happy at what I’d chosen to do. Then it hit me. What was I walking into? I’m not the only one affected by my health; and even if I were, maybe this isn’t something to be taken as lightly as I tend to take things.

I’m scared. I’m sure my wife is scared. She’s only seen me switch medications once before. I haven’t done it for over a decade. What could happen? Anything, right? Too much medication, too little medication, seizures, side effects; all irrational fears perhaps, but all very real.

You know what, though? This is part of owning my epilepsy. If I’m going to be the one in charge, I have to accept how it can make me feel. It’s OK for epilepsy to scare me, it really is.

Cause I’ll scare it right back.

1 thought on “So I’m Scared”

  1. Why did I rate an article about being scared as "cool?" You'll "scare it right back."

    With your strength of character and solace in your faith, I've no doubt you'll come out ahead. Those may seem empty words, though. Outcomes from generalized seizures, as you list, are profound. You have every right to be trepidatious. Let me ask you two questions: 1) In your core, do you trust your doctor's opinions and 2) are there any statistics or characteristics of the new meds that serve as comforting signposts of directions to head? Even if all looks good with those two questions answered, there still are no certainties and, again, anyone deserves to feel scared.

    Somehow, in your case, Matt, I believe it will morph into courage, just as it did at the end of your post. I know you'll own it.

    Your fan,


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