It started with what I call "smell nightmares". Every so often I would awaken in the wee hours of the morning smelling a distinct chemical smell and feeling like I was having a nightmare (except with no memory of a nightmare). My brother later teasingly commented, "Well, you know, with Jared next to you, smelling an unusual smell shouldn't be that surprising!" (Waiting a few moments for Jared to mentally punch my brother!) But it was a weird smell that I can't describe very well. Kind of like cookies, but more chemical-like. Strong enough to make my nose sting and my stomach feel sick.
I don't remember when they started. Maybe a few months ago. Then on a Sunday morning not too long ago, I was getting my daughter ready for church and I suddenly felt very ill, like I was going to faint. I sat down to compose myself, and the smell was there again. I had also had a deja vu type of feeling right before it happened.
After about a minute, the feeling passed, and I was okay for the rest of the day, albeit a little icky feeling and nervous. I called my brother that evening (the one who joked about my husband and the smell) because he is a dermatology resident and the designated person in our family to abuse with requests for free medical advice. He said I should see my doctor, commenting that "maybe you have a brain tumor".
Monday and Tuesday passed without event. I even ran on my treadmill without any problems. I figured it was just one of those things. Maybe an anemia thing, since I am prone to being anemic. They hate that at the bloodmobile when I try to donate.
On Wednesday I had several "episodes" - deja vu, then sick feeling/near faint, then smell - including one while driving. That was scary. After the third episode my husband came home to take me to the emergency room. I had another one on the way there, so he was able to observe me. I never lost consciousness, and was even able to describe what was happening while it was happening.
In the ER they did an ECG, chest x-ray, and C-T scan, all of which came back normal. Bloodwork was also normal. The ER doctor said that it sounded kind of like a seizure, but since I was lucid throughout the episode, and since the C-T scan was normal, he figured it wasn't a seizure. My brother said they should have done an EEG, but they didn't. They sent me home with a big question mark on my forehead. I had another episode that night, and several more in the following days.
On Friday I met with my primary care doctor, who suggested a Holter monitor screening (for possible arrhythmias not detected by ECG) and referred me to a neurologist for an EEG. He didn't think it was seizures either, but thought it would be prudent to check anyway.
The neurologist listened to my description of events, and said, "Sounds like you're having seizures." So much so, that he sent me home with samples of antiseizure medication to hang onto, pending the EEG results. He ordered an EEG and an MRI, which (miraculously) were both accessible that day.
On Saturday night the neurologist called and said to start taking the antiseizure medication, even though he was having some computer problems to prevent seeing the results of my testing.
On Monday morning he called me again. Even though I had a follow-up appointment scheduled for Tuesday, he asked if I could come in that day. He would fit me in somehow. Wanted to talk about my MRI results. I knew this couldn't be good news. Later, his nurse called me to say that she had cancelled the Holter monitor appointment with my primary care doctor. I knew the culprit had been found.
My husband came with me to the neurologist's office, and held my hand while the doctor told me the news. EEG showed definite seizure activity, most likely due to the "abnormality" that could be clearly seen on the MRI film.