Month: October 2015

The start of the epilepsy


Gentlemen, Line Up Your Cars, Start Your Engines, Green Flag, Gun Your Engines, Go Go Go!

Genesis of the epilepsy, the beginning of the Electric Highway and the ups and downs of epilepsy and depression:

“I’ve seen this many times before. When adolescence ends, your seizures will stop,” my first neurologist, Noble Jameson, said. My seizures will stop when adolescence ends; that was seven or eight years; seven years seemed a lifetime, eight years seemed an eternity. So began the mounting frustration and exasperation. That statement has echoed in my mind during a 40-year prolonged adolescence. The brain is like a car’s engine—it controls what we do and where we go and some of us have faulty electrical systems. In adolescence, testosterone shifted my brain into overdrive and flicked the seizure switch that controlled the firing of my spark plugs to the off position—it has remained there for nearly four decades. At the end of my sixth-grade-year during the hot summer of 1974 my engine overheated and I had two tonic-clonic—known at the time as grand mal—seizures. At the time I experienced ictal (seizural) amnesia. So began a 40-year-journey on Epilepsy’s Electric Highway.


Glossary of Epilepsy Terms



  • Absence—more commonly known as ‘petit mal’
  • Atonic—also known as a ‘drop seizure’ I have a partial seizure that in many ways mimics an Atonic, see Superman Seizures below
  • Complex-partial—also known as TLE or temporal lobe Epilepsy
  • Gelastic—also known as laughing seizures (although, there is nothing funny about them)
  • Grand—means big, petit – means little
  • Mal—means sick (so grand mal means big sick, petit mal means little sick, not too helpful)
  • Psychomotor—another name for Complex-partial
  • Reflex—a seizure experienced as a reaction to some outer stimuli, possibly noise or flickering lights, television or video games
  • Superman Seizures—not sure of the technical name for these as Doc Penovich never said, rather than suffering ataxia—loss of control in a major muscle group—the thighs and butt just muscles just give out, in a ‘Superman Seizure’ my thigh muscles contract and butt muscles contract so I’m launched up and out to land with a crash. I was a runner in my youth so I have good muscles in my legs and butt and I fly a considerable distance before touching down with a thud.
  • Tonic-clonic—more commonly known as a ‘grand mal’ seizure


  • AED—anti-epilepsy-drug, it is also known by the term—meds, old terminology—anticonvulsant
  • Aura—a brief warning before a seizure occurs, this might be a sensation, a taste, a smell, a sound; I have never had the good fortune to have an aura, although for 11 years I had a seizure or sensitive detection dog that acted as a canine aura for me, letting me know ahead of time when a seizure was going to occur.
  • E—short for epilepsy, as a single letter is less intimidating than the whole word, we are the E people—if someone questions you, you can say the extra-special or extraordinary people
  • epilepsy—that’s epilepsy with a small E as people diagnosed don’t like putting more value on the word than there is—plain and simple—epilepsy is excess static electricity in the brain, shocking isn’t it? And people can get really uptight about a little extra juice in the generator.
  • Epileptologist—a neurologist that specializes in Epilepsy
  • Marijuana—cannabis sativa (in medicinal marijuana—cannaboid oil, CBD)
  • Neurologist—a doctor that specializes in nerves, my own specialist, Doc Penovich, is a neurologist
  • Neuro-surgery—surgery done on the brain


  • Generalized—occurring all over the brain, and thus all over the body
  • Partial—excess electrical activity occurring in only part of the brain


  • MEG, PA—Minnesota Epilepsy Group, Professional Associates, my current specialty group, founded by Doctor John Gates in 1990 and still going strong. My current neurologist—Patricia E. Penovich was introduced to me by Doctor Gates in 1992, when she joined the staff of the organization
  • MINCEP—Minnesota Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, was a patient there until 1990, still in existence, founded by Doctor Robert Gumnit and Doctor John Gates


Buddy Miller, Hero

The WVMA (Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association) selected Buddy to be the Wisconsin Pet Hall of Fame’s 2011 Hero Inductee. So now, Buddy is officially a hero with a gold medal/blue ribbon to prove it. That summer, just after being placed with me, he truly did save my life, so it is an honor he deserved.

Puppy Love

I’d be lost without him and I think he’d be lost without me. It’s amazing how Buddy took over part of my life so completely, that love, even in its most primitive state can pass between man and beast. The Budster-doggy saved my life that time; and thanks to the miracle of antibiotics, Grantsburg Animal Hospital and I have saved his life twice.

Is There a “Dog-tor” In the House?

Some people don’t believe that Buddy knows when my pill times are. At 8:00 am, 5:00 pm, and 10:00 pm Buddy will come over, sit by me, and won’t leave until after I’ve taken my meds. That’s something they couldn’t have trained him for.

Buddy also knows when I’m feeling ill or depressed. At those times he’ll come over and snuggle up close to me. Hugging a warm, living, breathing dog—a dog with nothing but love to give in return—can do wonders to raise your spirits.

On the Job

A Service Dog is a highly trained canine, which assists disabled people in need. As the owner of a service dog I can tell you firsthand about the changes the addition of Buddy to my life brought, he has lifted my self-esteem, boosted my ego, and broadened my horizons. Buddy enables me to overcome the obstacles life has laid in front of me. With his help I was able to locate what turned out to be only short-term work in a computer-related job and have been pursuing a personal goal of mine, creative writing.

End of the Leash

Buddy Miller 01-01-2000 to 01-27-2014 was put to sleep today (01-27-2014), his kidneys had shut down, white count was high, wasn’t producing red blood cells, and the Vet said everything was backing up inside. He was 14 years—98 dog years young and ready to go.

Buddy also had an occasional “grand mal” seizure and had his own prescription for phenobarbital, but I hated to use it on him. His body would experience a minor shudder. I don’t know if it was a sympathetic seizure but he was awful protective of me.