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Misdiagnosis of Absence / Petit Mal Epilepsy

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Old 01-30-2019, 08:03 AM   #1
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Default Misdiagnosis of Absence / Petit Mal Epilepsy

Hello. I am new here and joined to see if someone can help me solve a decades old mystery. I ask your patience as I provide background and then my question.

I am a man in my mid 50's, but my question and story go back to when I was about 10 (5th grade). Here's what happened: Some other boys and I were goofing off during class in 5th grade, holding our breath and pushing hard to make our faces turn red, then laughing at each other. We must have been out of the teacher's direct line of sight. When I took my turn, I did I happened to also be leaning back on the desk/chair. I got dizzy from the exercise and fell over with my desk.

The teacher came over and asked what happened. I lied and said I didn't know... I just passed out. She sent me home as sick. I told my parents the same lie - that I didn't know what happened, I was just sitting there in class and passed out. Dad (who was a physician, but not in neurology) said we should watch and see what happened.

Well, I was enjoying the attention (I was somewhat of a social outcast), so I began "passing out" at home, at school, etc. every once in a while when I was bored. So dad had me see a neurologist. The neurologist listened to my description and said it sounded like petit mal epilepsy. He said the only way to know was through an EEG. So I kept up the ruse and they took me to the hospital for EEGs.

The EEGs came back POSITIVE for petit mal epilepsy! The doctor prescribed Phenobarbital, which I guess was common back then. Later he switched me to Neurontin, and in my teens there was another medicine that I no longer remember the name of - some really large translucent dark orange capsule that was hard to swallow.

There were more EEGs from time to time, and they all said I had epilepsy. I kept up the ruse unto my mid-teens and eventually quit faking it. Dad and the neurologist concluded that it went away like a lot of childhood epilepsy cases.

Can see my question and dilemma? Why did EEGs show positive for epilepsy when I was faking the seizures?

In case it is relevant, I do what I would consider mental issues. I have always had a poor memory, attention span, and difficulty focusing/remembering. I have always called it ADHD. A year ago I decided to get tested for ADD and I came back borderline positive.

Today in my 50s my memory is worse than most people my age. My mom has unnamed dementia, her father and sister both had Alzheimer's.

Can anyone help me untangle this mystery?

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Dmom3005 (03-04-2019)
Old 01-30-2019, 01:57 PM   #2
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My Mood: Misdiagnosis of Absence / Petit Mal Epilepsy

Hi Nebulosity

Welcome to NeuroTalk .

Possibly what happened with your "fake" petit mal seizures (also called absence seizures) is that the neurological processes involved in doing that mimicked those of "real" absence seizures, leading to EEG-detectable events.

Regardless of that, absence seizures usually resolve spontaneously by the time somebody is in their teens.

Best wishes.
Knowledge is power.
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Dmom3005 (03-04-2019)
Old 03-04-2019, 06:51 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Indiana
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My Mood: Misdiagnosis of Absence / Petit Mal Epilepsy

The absence seizure is one of the ones that there is a specific pattern for
in an EEG. I'm honestly not positive anyone could create an pattern to
make up the exact correct pattern that comes from the real absence
seizure. I had them too as an child and teen till I was around 15.
I grew out of them at about 15 or 16. I got to drive at 16

I can tell you for a fact that I was clumsy and could get dizzy and other
things all the time. SO I don't know. As an 30 or 40 year old I had
another EEG just to make sure I didn't have more seizure events.

My son has seizures his is the complex partial with secondary generalized.

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eegs, epilepsy, happened, petit, question

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