As I attend day ten of twenty three of the barre challenge, I am made aware of my precise body clock which has yet to fail me. It’s informing me of the transition which is slowly taking place in my body. Yes, it’s those pesky hormones that are partying hard every month which give us ladies the grumps, make us teary and provide our associated males with confusion, fear and a feeling of needing to go into their man caves to hide!
As so often is the case, my body clock likes to keep me on my toes, keep life entertaining and will often choose the most inopportune moments to inform me of my forthcoming monthly visit. Over the years I have found that my absence seizures will gradually increase during week three of the menstrual cycle and this is most likely due to the hormone imbalance. Estrogen is a more ‘excitable’ hormone making the brain cells produce more electrical discharges. Progesterone known as an ‘inhibitory’ hormone plays a pacifying role to those cells. Consequently, when the body is generating more estrogen than progesterone there can be a greater strain on the nervous system, thus creating an environment where seizures have a higher probability of ensuing.
So, as I trundled off to my barre class raring to go from my three day break over the long weekend, I energetically began the workout. Whilst I was sat against the wall enthusiastically contorting my body in order to straighten my left leg, I was suddenly aware that everyone else had moved on to the second variation. As soon as this happened I knew exactly what was occurring (and no it wasn’t a conspiracy of my class members should you be asking!), it was simply the absences sneaking back in and it was more likely them conspiring against me and my fitness class than anybody else! I was only out for a second or so as they are brief, but when they come in clusters which they were starting to do, it requires extra concentration. It becomes comparable to a double workout both mentally and physically because I have to catch up on the missed instructions!
It seems having gone on past experience this message of ‘informative body wisdom’ always finds me when I am working out in some capacity. Many a time I have been on the treadmill, (the fact I carry on with what I’m doing during the absences is an absolute godsend!) and found myself veering off to the left or the right because of have an absence or two. I do smile to myself as it is amusing, but in those circumstances I do tend to leave the treadmill alone just to be on the safe side!
It is unsurprising that my situation is not unusual. It is unknown just how many women worldwide have undiagnosed catamenial epilepsy who suffer with seizures. Through my research I have come across all manner of statistics but the most popular estimation doctors have made is between 10-12%. The seizures themselves are not bound to any particular type as a variety has been recorded through previous research.
It is also well documented that the three major life hormonal changes in women that can affect seizures are puberty, pregnancy and menopause. In my own experience, my epilepsy was fully controlled from the ages of eight to eleven by massage, acupuncture, nutrition and homeopathy. Once the hormones started raging at the beginning of puberty the grand mal seizures kicked in. From what I remember, it was mostly every other night that I would experience them. It was at that stage medication was required again in order to give me a quality of life, particularly with the transition to high school in the near future. I was frustrated at not being able to take the natural route in order to maintain my epilepsy particularly as it had worked so well for so long. One of the most important issues at that time was to weigh taking medication against the quality of my life.
I am of the opinion that if a good quality of life can be obtained through seizure control naturally, that would be the ideal. If medication is the only option, as it was with me then realism is necessary because being able to Find Freedom with Epilepsy is the most important achievement to aim for.