At 9.50AM on Tuesday I finally had my appointment with a neurosurgeon to discuss the possibility of Vagnus Nerve Stimulation (VNS). Although hospital appointments are probably one my most familiar situations, in which I normally feel worryingly comfortable, for the past week or so this specific meeting has been making me excessively anxious. One thing about my epilepsy that has always been reasonably certain, is that due to the lack of physical anomalies within my brain, surgery is a non-viable option.
VNS, however, works differently. I made sure not to Google anything about it before the appointment in order to avoid any over-thinking, but from what I generally know, I came to the conclusion that it is basically a seizure-pacemaker. The surgeon agreed that this is a pretty good description. Essentially, a battery is placed in the chest attached to a wire that is wrapped around the Vagnus Nerve in your neck, this nerve is basically the Fedex between your brain and your body. If the device picks up on a sudden increase in your heart-rate, it sends a small electric shock helping to calm down the irregular electrical activity within the brain, consequently reducing the severity of seizures. It can also be triggered by caregivers using a magnet.
Although there is no guarantee that this will work for me, based on the simplicity of the procedure itself in comparison the severity of my current seizures, my parents and I have decided to go ahead and put me on the waiting list.
Since coming to this conclusion, it has become even more evident that we made the right choice. Other than forgetting medication the only other seizure trigger I’ve managed to identify is a significant reduction in stress. I always use my second year at uni as an example, after handing in my final essay for the year, I woke up on the bedroom floor completely unable to speak or move. So it only makes sense that the morning after going to the appointment that’s been stressing me out I have a massive seizure. It’s been a nasty cluster of about ten, during one of which I bit my mouth so hard I’ve actually burst a blood vessel on the inside of my left cheek!
Mentally I’ve recovered quite quickly, I want to get on track with projects I have at the moment but physically I’m still totally drained. I’m hoping that giving myself a few ‘days off’ will mean this is a quick recovery and by the end of this year it will become a much less frequent experience.