Moments of Darkness

For a while I experienced black out episodes that came and went as they pleased.  I tried eating regularly, adding more water to my diet, but nothing seemed to help.  Since I could usually tell when it was about to happen I decided to just deal with it rather than going to the doctor.  I figured I would much rather manage brief moments of darkness than endure a bunch of tests.

I quickly learned that if I placed my hand on a nearby wall or table then when all went dark I could quickly recover…usually without anyone even noticing.  It worked for a while until I completely passed out one night.  My husband and I were eating dinner in the floor while watching TV when I got a sharp pain in my chest, couldn’t speak, and then lost consciousness.  He caught me as I began to slouch over and started yelling my name.  After a moment, I opened my eyes and saw my very concerned husband’s face.  He told me what had happened, and said we should probably head to the hospital.  I told him I was feeling fine so we agreed that I’d just lie down for a while and then see how things went from there.  He got me some water, settled me on the couch, and kept a constant eye on my every move.

A few weeks (and black out episodes) later I decided it was time to get checked out.  I walked over to the hospital near my work to finally get some tests done.  I figured if I had to endure the doctor then I’d rather go to the ER and get everything checked out in one day.  They tested my heart, my lungs, and did a cat scan on top of a whole list of other items.  But after everything was over they still didn’t have an answer.  I was referred to both a cardiologist and a neurologist for additional testing.

A few months passed and the results were finally in.  I had epilepsy and an irregular heartbeat… or so they said.  I was given prescriptions to take daily, but after looking at all of the side effects my husband and I opted for a second opinion.  Thankfully we have easy access to Johns Hopkins (and my insurance covers it) so we decided to go to the best.   I was able to get in pretty quickly, and see one of the top neurologists in the world.  He ran a series of tests, and took his time talking with us.  He asked if I had changed anything since going to the neurologist, and the only thing different was that I had stopped taking my birth control pills.  We had found that the epileptic  medication would negate the pill so we just decided it was time for me to stop.

The doctor said that after comparing my previous tests to the ones he ran that everything looked good.  He could see in an older scan what a doctor might have thought was epilepsy, but after comparing it to the new scan it definitely wasn’t.  He suggested I continue staying off the pill and not to take any other medications.  He said that from what he could tell there was a good possibility my episodes were caused by the pill and low sodium.  He recommended that I drink an occasional sports drink which is high in sodium, and let my body go back to its natural state.  He suggested that once the pill got out of my system I would probably return to normal.

So I followed his orders and he was right on the money.  It took less than two months of being off the pill and drinking an occasional sports drink to bring me back to normal.  I had stopped all medication, and was feeling much better.  I can’t say for sure the pill was the cause, but I do know that when I stopped the episodes stopped as well.

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