(Editor’s Note: This afternoon, we welcome a new blogger, Kristen, who joined our site this afternoon. You can learn more about Kristen by visiting her profile here.)
My name is Kristen and my fiance, Sean, began experiencing seizures in January 2011 at the age of 32. At first they were classified as non-provoked and non-epileptic, therefore he was non prescribed anti-seizure medication. Now, nearly 18 months and six seizures later, his doctor believes it is epilepsy. That word alone scares me. Still, I am relieved that he is now diagnosed with something that can be treated. Before, we were trying to find patterns and draw conclusions, partially in denial.
He is now taking medication a generic brand of Keppra. As some of you may know, this medication has side effects that include exhaustion and irritability. Not to mention the fact that a diagnosis of epilepsy alone is a lot for him to deal with. Pre-diagnosis, just with the seizures alone, he already felt he was losing some freedoms: limited driving, reduced caffeine intake, no alcohol, healthy diet. He has been taking the medication for a little over two weeks now and is extremely moody. He snaps at me a lot and generally seems anxious and depressed.
I want to be the best partner and supporter I can be for him because I know what he is going through is difficult. But I am having a hard time being patient with his mood swings and erratic behavior. Mostly the type of support he needs from me is emotional, and I guess I need a little emotional support, too.
Yesterday he disappeared for three hours. He left in his car without saying goodbye and when I called him, it went straight to voicemail. After about an hour, I became extremely panicked. I must have called him more than 50 times. I sent several text messages. I even emailed him. I got on the phone to call his parents to see if they had heard from me when I saw him pulling into the driveway.
I ran downstairs and lost control. “Where were you??? Why is your phone off??? What are you doing leaving like that and turning your phone off when you have SEIZURES???”
He said he wasn’t sure about our relationship anymore, that he had doubts. “What the heck?” I thought. “Where is this coming from?” He said things are just too difficult. And then he sat there silently, almost numb, and then went to bed. It was only 8 p.m.
It was just such unusual behavior for him. Sean is someone who is very deliberate, very organized, not over-dramatic. Is this the pills talking? Is he really getting cold feet? Why would he just leave like that? Why is this happening: the seizures, the diagnosis, the sudden uncertainty?
I’m still reeling from what went down yesterday and trying to figure out my role in all of this. How can I be the best caregiver I can be in this situation?