Another seizure…and a hypothetical Q and A session with myself for your benefit

I had another seizure Saturday night (Oct. 10th, 2009) and this one nearly scared me to death.  I have wanted to set some things straight about our situation.  This is a good opportunity to do just that.  Our church had a Fall Festival planned and we were supposed to go out to a country home for hay rides, bon fire,etc.  But when it snowed nearly three inches it behooved us to move the festivities indoors.  

As the evening was winding down Benj and one of his friends waited in the car (I was planning to take Benj’s friend home momentarily) I found myself engaged in one of those last second…minute…fifteen minutes conversations.  In retr0spect this was a smiling Providence of God that it happened when it did.

While I have come to appreciate and even admire the volunteers who make up the Earlham First Responders Unit I am tired of being at the center of attention!   God bless the men and women who selflessly serve on this crew.

If you live in a big city then you can’t even comprehend what I mean as I try to express my thanks.   When a 911 call goes in I believe that an ambulance is immediately dispatched, along with the First Responders in the Earlham area.

The ambulance can always be called back if it proves not to be urgent.  But the Earlham First Responders are always the first to arrive on the scene….taking vital signs in my case.  I don’t know what their average response time is but it has to be near to NASCAR Pit Stop times.  I was then taken by ambulance to Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa about 8:30 p.m.

Top Five Questions From The Hypothetical Peanut Gallery

1.  Question:  Why did you have another seizure?  Is this thing growing back?

Answer: This mass of tangled blood vessels and arteries is gone and it can’t grow back.  I will die someday…at my appointed time…but not from this AVM…which no longer exists.  I am at peace with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and am ready to leave this body behind.  Are you?

2.  Question: You were just at Mayo Clinic and had an EEG which showed no seizure activity in the brain.  What gives?

Answer: Though the EEG produced scientific proof that my brain still functions, and though there was no apparent seizure activity occurring in those tests….as the doctor warned us so I have proven: “…that just because there is no obvious seizure activity in the brain does not mean that seizures will not occur.”

A good friend keeps reminding me over and over that this is a marathon, not a sprint.  And he is encouraged, as I am as well, at the progress made thus far.  There is a whole host of complicated factors that could account for this seizure.  Swelling in the brain from surgery can take up to a year to go down to normal.

Then there is always the very real possibility that during some of the darkest hours of this ordeal that other areas of my brain were damaged as well.  But again, the brain is the most amazing organ in the human body and it is capable of re-wiring itself to an extraordinary degree.

3.  Question: Did it scare you to have another seizure?

Answer: Uh….Yes!  It lasted for roughly two-and-a-half minutes.  It began while I was talking to a woman and her husband…trying to swat a fly is how they described my actions…and as this dear woman continued to talk on I tried with all my might to pull myself out of it but could not.

My last thought before I momentarily blacked out was this:  “This is it.  I’m going to die right now because I cannot even breathe!!”  So yes, it was terrifying!  I would happily remain on seizure medications the rest of my life if only to avoid another one like this.  After all we have been through in the past eight months I wasn’t expecting any more excitement…or rides to the hospital in ambulances.

4. Question:  What are you taking for seizure medication and have you made any recent adjustments?

Answer: Three months ago I was taking 600 mg of Dilantin and 1500 mg of Keppra.   In the past months the Dilantin has not even been at a therapeutic level so that has been eliminated altogether .  Per Dr. Meyer’s recent instructions we adjusted the Keppra downward by half (to 750 mg/ day).    Thus, the most likely reason for this seizure was because of the medication adjustment made just 10 days ago.

My body and brain responded to this change with an emphatic, “NO!”  Or, if not a permanent “NO”  at a minimum it was an emphatic “NOT YET!”

5. Question: What do you plan to do now?

Answer: Eat a Snickers bar…I haven’t had one for awhile and increase the Keppra back to 1,500 mg/day.


11 thoughts on “Another seizure…and a hypothetical Q and A session with myself for your benefit”

  1. Amen on that Snickers bar! Chocolate cures much! Another reminder of Who is ultimately in charge of everything. We are all so very glad that you are still with us and so very sorry that you had to live through those horrifying moments. L&D


  2. He, Who spoke creation into being with a whisper and knows well your frame, is on the throne. Thank you for continuing to share the hope you have. We will pray and trust God’s work in all this. You are loved!


  3. Mike, it’s been awhile since I have written you, but I do think of you guys often, and love the updates. I am so sorry to hear about this seizure. I appreicate you sharing your thoughts and fears. Will continue to keep you in my prayers. You have been especially in my thoughts these past four weeks because our church just finished a series called Live Like you are Dying. It was to encourage us to love deeper, speak sweeter, and forgive. To think about how our lives would change if we only had 30 days to live. I could say what I would want to do during those days, and I wish I truely could say, that I am living my life that way, but my thoughts don’t go there. I am so thankful for my life, and want to serve God, but I also know that I don’t use my days as wisely and for God like I should. Even though this trial that you have gone through is one that you would not have wanted to go through, has given you this perspective on life, and that is a huge transformation for you and is a wonderful blessing to have. Now, of course I would want that transformation without the trial. You are a great encouragement to me and I hope that I don’t take life and moments for granted. God bless you.


  4. Someone said to me recently, “You are immortal until God’s appointed time for you is up.” He truly does know the number of our days. So great to hear your sense of humor in all this. Where would we be without laughter? What a gift! Blessings to you and your family! You guys are precious, and very missed! ~ Wendy


  5. Hey cowboy sounds like your back in the saddle and writing again. Great post and I like the peanut gallery, many of my friends sit in that area 🙂 (I won’t mention any names like Lynn and Dave K.). Med levels are always a guessing game and sometimes they even get it right. No doubt your level will quickly rebound and you should be good to go. I know how you feel and what it’s like to wake up from a seizure and wonder what happened and where you are. Once I woke up in the emergency room with the bright lights on above me that did startle me a bit. The best course of action is a Sinkers bar and back to work.
    Observations form an experienced epileptic
    1. Each of your seizures have been lessening in severity and length, this is good
    2. Your meds are working, just have to work out the dosage, this is good
    3. Time is on your side as your brain continues to heal, this is good
    4. So far you haven’t swallowed your tongue, hit yourself in the eye, fallen and hit your head on the coffee table or tub, or lost bladder control, this is very good 🙂

    So life is good and we praise God for allowing you to be our pastor, shepherd and friend. Enjoy your Snickers bar and pick up where you left off, looking forward to Sunday

    God Bless


  6. Maybe it was your Snickers bar levels that were off. You should really pay more attention to that. Speaking on behalf of verbose people everywhere, I am glad to know that we are out there saving lives every day.
    Blessings on you and your family, and continued prayers as I jog by your house…


  7. Dear Mike,
    Why would God….? The question is endlessly repeated in my mind. Why would God…afflict, wound, discourage, flatten….Mike and Karla in this way? Why would God…? And then the answers that come to me are all relatively useless guesses apart from God’s own solid promises and explanations as actually written down in Scripture — but still I can’t stop myself from asking the question. Why would God…?

    It is a comfort to realize that our desperately mixed experiences of hopeful despair and the painful pleasures of temporary recovery mirror the kind of thing that Paul could say of his experience. “…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” (2 Corinthians 6:10) I keep trying to cancel my subscription to the ‘sorrowing’ part, but the Lord just keeps on sending the magazines anyway — I see that it is the same with you.

    Still watching you from shore,



  8. Lynne and Vicki have the right idea! It was a low chocolate level in your system!!! I agree whole-heartedly with them.

    As I told you before, you are in our thoughts more than you know. You are a good friend and we aren’t ready to let you go yet. Hang in there, take the meds, and keep on believing! You are not alone out here in this great big screwed up world.

    Thanks for stopping in today, it’s always nice to visit with you on our territory.

    Janet and John


  9. Mike,

    I am extremely happy that you are doing better. I am sorry that you and your family are having to go through this. We are praying for you and know that you are at peace with your Creator! God is good…all the time, even when our bodies don’t cooperate. Blessings to you and the Crossroads Family from your friends at Earlham Church of Christ.




  10. Pastor Mike,
    Thanks for the writting. It is nice to read your thoughts, your fears and sense of humor…. Talk about scary! You and your family are always in my thoughts and prayers more than you know. We love having the word of God taught to us by you! And I still have a lot to learn, so I know you will be here for a long while. God still has a plan for you, but I know I don’t need to tell you that. 🙂 Love you and always praying,

    P.S. Now I am craving chocolate, and its late and I dont have any in my house. Whats is a woman to do?


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