This Lupus Life

I am the dancer and Lupus is my music. I want to make it look beautiful

Strokes, Partial Focal Seizures and Transient Ischemic Attacks

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This is an Australian poster. If you live outside of Australia please note the emergency number will NOT be 000. Image sourced from Karuna Medicine

I have mentioned often that I have had strokes and seizures, as well as non-specific episodes, as a result of my vasculitis. What I have failed to mention is exactly what happens in these circumstances. To be honest, I only recently was able to find out what all of these reactions were for myself and how to determine which each was and when it was happening. It is only responsible of me now to share that knowledge so that everything is cleared up.

My last disclaimer is that in the past I have reported only what was reported to me and so there are instances where my reporting was not true. I now see this and hopefully I can clarify exactly what happened when, eventually I will return to old posts and update them so they are true.


 Stroke

Stroke – (translates as ‘struck down by violence’ in Greek) also known as a Cerebral Vascular Attack. They were first recorded by Hippocrates in 2400 BC.

Cerebral – Brain

Vascular – Of or pertaining to blood vessels

Attack – To begin to affect

Today they are often referred to as a ‘Brain Attack’ to identify the emergency nature and physical location of the illness. This illness is a lack of blood supply to the brain (Hopkinsmedicine.org). It can occur or come about in a range of ways but is always seriously debilitating in short- and long-term implications. Not only that but strokes are the second highest cause of death worldwide (World Health Organisation 2012).

Image sourced from Japanese-acupuncture.co.nz

A stroke is a medical emergency and attention must be sought as soon as possible when one is noted to be occurring. It leads to death or permanent paralysis of the body. 

A stroke is the reduction or deprivation of blood supply, hence nutrients, oxygen and other needs, to the brain cells. The result of this is the death of cells and areas of the brain. Functionality diminishes and whole components can die within minutes. Paralysis results when blood supply is deprived from areas that access movement and coordination to specific parts of the body. The brain is opposition to the body and so if the right side of the brain is affected, the left side of the body will be also, or vice versa. From what I understand there memory area overlaps with many areas and it isn’t uncommon for a lot of memories to be lost and irretrievable even as other parts of the body rehabilitate. Speech is commonly impacted as it is multifaceted: tongue paralysis, partial facial (often one sided) paralysis, memory loss and, depending on the area of the brain, language functions in general (this is one I struggle with).

Brain area affected by Stroke. Image from medicalnewstoday.com

There is no direct predisposition for these or any real way to predict the occurrence of a stroke. They can be caused by an injured or burst blood vessel in the brain (Hemorrhagic stroke) or a vascular inflammation or a blood clot (Ischemic Stroke). They are more likely to occur in people with a predisposition to blood disorders, some chronic illnesses, some autoimmune and inflammatory illnesses, as well as people with heart disease. A stroke does not always lead in a swift, inevitable flow towards paralysis and death. It most often does, but not always. If the cause of the blood deprivation is not severe enough to completely cut off blood flow then a mini-stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack may occur.


Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Transient – Not lasting, enduring or permanent (transitory)

Ischemic – Insufficient supply of blood to an organ, usually due to a blocked artery

Attack – To begin to affect

From the name we can see that TIA is the temporary onset of insufficient supply of blood flow to a part of the body. From the above discussion on Cerebral Vascular Attack we can surmise it is a form of minor stroke. Given that the attack is in the brain, like stroke, and involves the insufficient supply of blood, as does stroke, but is temporary in nature, unlike stroke, we could hazard a guess that the short- and long-term impact of these events may also be temporary, unlike stroke.

Here I will have to concede your guess is as good as mine for individual cases. As to why I am so, for want of a better word, unsure about this last detail it is really due to the fact that the nature of the attack in each individual during each event will vary. Why it happens, how long it lasts and where in the brain it occurs all determine just what kind of result and rehabilitation will be required. During the second half of 2013 I developed a relatively large amount of blockages spread throughout my brain vessels and so was effected in numerous ways. They were there long enough that I still think I am recovering in minor ways and having troubles with some aspects of my life. It may be in my imagination as far as the doctors are concerned, but these things are noticeable to me.

From what I understand, and have been half told from the doctors since before I was admitted to hospital in December 2013, I actually had my first minor stroke between 2009 and 2013. There are even medical discussions that have occurred to surmise if my Bell’s Palsy was in fact a well-spotted small stroke. I have no on-going paralysis or major lacks in functionality so I feel it is highly likely and these ideas were dismissed, I just wasn’t informed as they couldn’t confirm for sure.

When I have severe accumulations of blockages, hence masses, within my brain I experience a Transient Ischemic Attack. These have resulted in a brief hospital visit and then more MRI’s and Neurological observations. The biggest side effect, either of my Cerebral Vasculitis or my Transient Ischemic Attacks, are my Partial Focal Seizures.


Partial Focal Seizure

Partial – Being such in part; not total or general; incomplete

Focal – Of or relating to a focus

Seizure – Uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce a physical convulsion, minor physical signs, thought disturbances, or a combination of symptoms. (Medicinenet.com)

A seizure that is generalised through electrical activity in a specific region of the brain. As with many types of seizures, the way they manifest in different people varies. In my instance my seizures present like the onset of a Transient Ischemic Attack. I stay completely coherent during the episode, but I lose control and coordination of the left side of my body. I trip, stumble, cut my fingers, slur my words etc. It is due to this that I do not have my drivers licence at the moment. When I have passed three months without a seizure I am able to apply to my doctors for an acceptance to drive again.

This is the latest blessing of experiences that has come about since and due to my Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

As well as the links in the text, more information can be found at:

The Brain Foundation

Hopkins Medicine

Better Health Victorian Government Australia

Mayo Clinic

 National Library of Medicine

World Stroke Organisation

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Author: Chevron Spots

I am in my mid twenties and fighting my battles to discover who I am and where I fit in to this zany, beautiful world. I was diagnosed with Lupus in in 2008. This takes up most of my focus, as I want to share the experience of trying to live with and rise above chronic invisible illness, so to speak. I would like to stress very much the information regarding medications, medical procedures and illnesses are discussed from my point of view, and with my understanding, colloquialisms and metaphors. I do not attempt to be legally and precisely accurate for the general population, rather I try to be emotionally and descriptively true to my experiences. I hope I can help in understanding others with chronic illness by providing one more personal recount of just how spontaneous and difficult these lives really are. One day I hope to visit every continent, climb some pretty high mountains, sleep in an ice cavern, marry a wonderfully understanding man, have children and teach more children. Mostly, I just want a simple life, you know the house with a husband and kids. Oh, and no pain.

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