What Is An Aura?
Aura is a term used to describe symptoms that may occur before a seizure. An aura may include:
- Bright lights
- Zigzag lines
- Slowly spreading spots
- Distortions in the size or shape of objects
- Blind or dark spots in the field of vision
- Hearing voices or sounds (auditory hallucinations)
- Strange smells (olfactory hallucinations)
- Feelings of numbness or tingling on one side of your face or body
- Feeling separated from your body
- Anxiety or fear
An aura is often the first sign that you are going to have a seizure. You may have an aura from several seconds up to 60 minutes before a seizure. Most people who have auras have the same type of aura every time they have a seizure. People with complex partial seizures are the most likely to experience warning signs, although any seizure type can be accompanied by auras. Approximately 55% to 65% of people with these seizures experience some type of aura.
I am one of the people that experience auras almost every time a seizure strikes. I am completely conscious for these experiences. It is extraordinary to be inside of yourself and watch as your mind, vision, senses and thoughts begin short circuiting and malfunctioning. When an aura overtakes, my entire head tenses with pain as if being squeezed from all sides. My body experiences a weightlessness as though gravity has evaporated. It is definitely an odd feeling whether you’re sitting down or standing up. I always find myself detecting the scent of burning wires or burning chemicals which is extremely overpowering! Thankfully, the scent will only last for a couple of seconds. My vision is probably my least favorite malfunction. It is typically a blend of a complete blackout loss of vision in one eye alone, pastel colored floating orbs, blurry vision in one or both eyes, seeing double of everyone and everything around me and fading in and out static in both eyes. The kind of static that you would typically see on television screens. There are times when my vision will completely rotate to the right causing me to feel off balance and dizzy.
All of these sensations balled up together, words, numbers, sentences and thoughts float within me like scattered scrabble tiles. I think in scattered letters and speak in incoherent babble.
What do I do when these auras pay me their unexpected and unwanted visits? With all of my might, I try and fight the current of confusion. Its like battling ocean waves filled with debris trying to keep my head above water. I try to regain control of the situation. I recite the alphabet out loud, I count to 10 out loud, I call out names of objects around me and describe their features. I solve basic math problems within my mind, I reflect on what I’ve done so far in the day. I do whatever it takes to exercise my mind back to normality. Doing these simple exercises tend to quickly dissolve the aura leaving me with a searing migraine. However, it doesn’t always prove successful. This method is something that I created on my own in attempts to quickly right what was wrong because auras to me are very frightening and after all this time, I still have not gotten fully used to experiencing them. At the end of it all, whether I rise above the aura or slip into a grand mal seizure, I’m left with a severe migraine and nausea. Causing me a day or two’s worth of rest and recuperation. A battle still waiting to see the white flag.