First off, what in the world is an EEG…and secondly,why did I just have one? Well, to summarize thoughts from my friend Google, EEG stands for electroencephalogram (yeah, I plan to stick with calling it “EEG” 🙂 ), and it’s a machine used primarily to diagnose and treat brain conditions.
In his last post, Ivan mentioned that I’ve been dealing with anxiety symptoms after the accident. Either a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or a stroke can frequently cause anxiety disorders in patients as they recover…and since I managed to have both TBI and 2 strokes, well, the odds of struggling with anxiety are very high. Just to clarify, this type of anxiety is caused by triggers that are slightly different from the typical things you might expect, like feeling down or worried all the time…it actually happens when my brain gets overloaded from information (via talking, planning, making decisions) or from other stimulation (e.g. noise and/or being with more than a couple of people), and then short circuits and goes into “panic” mode.
So anyway, back to the EEG…my doctor felt pretty sure that most of the symptoms I experience during an anxiety episode are normal. However, since he thought it was unusual that sometimes I either completely lose the ability to speak or have difficulty getting out more than a few words, he decided to do an EEG just to make sure there wasn’t anything else causing the issues. So, just to reassure you, this was primarily a precautionary test (we all expected a good/normal outcome), but since the process was pretty involved and totally new to me, I wanted to share the adventure with all of you. 🙂
EEG Step 1: Cut your normal amount of sleep in half the night before, and abstain from caffeine the day of the test. So yeah..for those of you who know me well, sleep is ESSENTIAL..as in very, very essential. I couldn’t bring myself down to the 4 hours that would have been exactly half, but I did get it down to 5 hours (1 am to 6 am). Poor Ivan stayed up with me for solidarity, which I thought was sweetly touching – and incidentally useful since he was there to wake me up every time i started dozing off before 1 am.
Unfortunately for all of us, my EEG wasn’t until 3:30 pm today, which meant I had to do the sleep deprivation thing, skip my beloved cup of coffee in the morning, go to therapy, and then wait around trying not to fall asleep again before 3:30.
EEG Step 2: Get plugged into the machine. I had a really nice technician, who used some sort of salty, glue-like thing to attach a fairly large number of wires all around my head and also on my face and neck. This took a decent amount of time, which gave me liberty to wonder exactly how hard it was going to be to get all of that glue back out of my hair, but eventually I got fully plugged in and we were ready to start!
EEG Step 3: Actually do the test. The test itself had several phases, all of which took place in a darkened room (Ivan did get to stay there with me). First, I opened and closed my eyes several times. The next part involved hyperventilating on purpose for 3 minutes (this was rather disconcerting and tiring!) My favorite part came next, which was to fall asleep for 25 minutes. Confession, it probably took me maybe 5 minutes to doze off, but I could tell by Ivan’s heavy breathing he had already been “out” for a bit…talk about embracing the EEG vicariously! 🙂 After this, the tech woke me up for the final part of the test, which involved lots of flashing strobe lights (I got to keep my eyes closed for this part too).
EEG Step 4: Get “unplugged” and head for home…and coffee! And realize the inordinate amount of glue that was still in my skin and hair. For the record, it did come off with a lot of shampoo and hot water!
As with a lot of medical tests, we won’t get the official results for a couple of weeks…but thanks for reading along and “living” this experience with us in the meantime! ❤ 🙂