Epilepsy

Aura Story

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
  • Nausea

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.

aurablog

I am a happily-ever-after wife, an Epilepsy Diagnosee, Advocate for Epilepsy Awareness (The Epilepsy Network), life lover & Christ inspired! Life is a journey and I'm loving every moment of it. Even the bumps in the road!

5 Comments

  • Vickie

    I have partial seizures I am on meds. I have signs, mine are my face muscles tighten. I always cry and sometimes my nose runs non stop the whole time I am having the seizure. I always have tears every time sometimes I hear the people around me talking like I hear bites and pieces of what they are saying.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you so much for this post. though no one will fully understand what it feels like to have aura or a seizure this tries to let people understand what it is like. I too suffer from auras & seizures. they are not sure why. I am on lamictal and vimpat. I can’t even count how many other medicines I’ve tried. they seem to work but then after being seizure free for six months they start again and then I am started on a new medicine.

    anyways. I can relate to this tremendously. I started having auras in elementary school. I didn’t have any idea what was going on and when I told my mom and she couldn’t tell me anything because I could not explain how the feeling was. I kept having these auras almost daily and then they just stopped. but when I turned sixteen I had my first grand mal seizure. no one ever knew it would be epilepsy and when I explained what I had been feeling to the doctor for going on ten years he said that that is symptom of having a seizure it just never developed into a grand mal.

    All of my grand mal seizures have only lasted two minutes at the most but lately they have been lasting almost ten minutes.

    I am currently waiting for my doctors appointment to determine if I am qualified for the brain surgery or the implant.

    this is how my auras start. I am going to explain them the best I can: it starts off with a smell, a very distinct smell but its hard to explain its a strong chemical smell that burns my nose then a weird hot feeling all over my body then my head starts spinning and my vision goes fuzzy and that’s when I go unconscious and usually wake up in a panic in the back of an ambulance or in a hospital bed.

    I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I will most likely will never drive again and being 19, all I want is to drive. And I am still trying to accept the fact that I will always be an individual with a chronic illness.

    • Linda Dunlop

      Hi. I have just read your post on aura/seizure and empathise with you. I have been epileptic since infancy and am now 50 years of age. I was very fortunate to undergo a temporal lobectomy on 21/10/1999 and this proved to be very successful. I do however still experience the auras. This usually takes the form of pins and needles in my face and arms, followed by a small lapse of awareness which, is not noticed by many!! The main hurdle I face, is that at work, people don’t understand as I look okay, and carry out my duties afterwards, although do feel a little drained. I have explained about lapse of memory but am not taken seriously and am expected to provide support to socialworkers with their computers etc. It is more frustrating than anything. Again, I wish you and stay positive and determined as, I feel it is the only way to get through this. Just think I I can, I will and put any negativity out your mind. that it is how I get through my auras. Might miss my bus stop and get a bit lost at times as my sense of direction has never been one of my strong points. Take care. Linda xx

  • Esteban

    Thanks a lot!!! It Has been very useful, I’m from México, a few months ago I was diagnosed with skin cancer, so it ended in a small surgery that removed all the bad stuff in my skin, after that the doc sent me a Few days away from the sun and sweat… On a beach city.

    So those days i spent my time reading and watchin TV… Last friday i was reading “one hundred years Of loneliness” by Gabriel García Márquez, i felt i couldn’t focus my eyes on the text, like if i wasn’t wearing my glasses, i Get up a Few times to Wash my head and return to the book, I still remember the paragraph, i somehow like it although it was sad, i even tweet it, i Get up to the bathroom to pee and i felt my air fade away, i remember i thought “my toungue” then i don’t remember anything but black… Nobody saw me, i don’t know how much time passed by it was not too much, when i came black i remember i thought what an odd dream, being on my knees, then little by little I realized i was on my knees, and i say to myself “stand up” my face was down, it was agaisnt the wall, it didnt obey at first, my knees feel like trembling… I Will never forget that feeling Of my body not obeying me.

    When i Get up, i called my mom, we went to the doc and check everything she could check right away, and everything was ok, so i went to the labs to blood and urine test, i went then with my cancer doc and talk about it and sent me another labs studies to discard possibilities, he says that i must pay attention from now on, in how i feel, in case it is epilepsy.

    So I’ve been reading about the aura, after the episode, my knees hurt, and my arms, i don’t know the english word but i have three “skins stains after a hit” one in the head… I didn’t felt, i stay on my knees. This is the first time this happens to me, and read that there is many people, having an strong & good Life no matter epilepsy encourages me, thanks a lot!!!

    P.s. I apologize for my english i haven’t practiced it for a while

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