Meeting The Reason – Epilepsy Diagnosis

The brain. The human brain is one of the body’s largest organs, consisting of some 100 billion nerve cells that not only put together thoughts and highly coordinated physical actions but regulate our unconscious body processes, such as digestion and breathing. Weighing at 3 lbs., the cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and makes up 85% of the brain’s weight.

The brain performs an incredible number of tasks such as:

  • It controls body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and breathing.
  • It accepts a flood of information about the world around you from your various senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching).
  • It handles your physical movement when walking, talking, standing or sitting.
  • It lets you think, dream, reason and experience emotions.

When a seizure occurs in the brain, the electrical system of the brain malfunctions. Instead of discharging electrical energy in a controlled manner, the brain cells keep firing. The result may be a surge of energy through the brain, causing unconsciousness and contractions of the muscles.

If only part of the brain is affected, it may cloud awareness, block normal communication, and produce a variety of undirected, uncontrolled, unorganized movements.

Involving an epilepsy diagnosis, most of the time the cause is unknown.

At age 16, suffering my first seizure, doctors discovered the cause of my seizure and eventually my Epilepsy diagnosis. I met the reason that had no intentions of going anywhere anytime soon. I was quickly scheduled for a procedure called a Cerebral Angiography. This procedure involved doctors inserting a thin, hollow tube called a catheter through an artery and carefully moving up through the main blood vessels in the belly area and chest and into an artery in the neck.  X-rays help guide the doctor to the correct position. Once the catheter was in the correct location, a special dye traveled through the catheter. X-ray images were taken to see how the dye moved through the artery and blood vessels of the brain. The dye helped highlight any blockages in blood flow. Once completed, doctors concluded that the reason for my seizure and eventual epilepsy diagnosis, that I had what’s called a Cavernous Malformation within the left side of my brain.

A Cavernous Malformation is an abnormal tangle of vein-like structures. These malformations have the potential to leak blood, leading to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage). This can cause neurological symptoms, depending on the location of the cavernous malformation. Symptoms can include weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, unsteadiness, vision loss or double vision, and difficulties speaking or swallowing. Seizures are also a threat. Cerebral cavernous malformations affect about 0.5 percent of the population worldwide.

In some instances, surgery can be an option to resolve the problem. In my case, due to the location of the Cavernous Malformation, surgery is not an option. Surgery would only lead to additional problems. It will be with me for the duration of my life. Epilepsy will also be with me for the duration of my life. Its my hope and prayer that as medicine advances, that options will become available to me and others in similar situations. Unaware of what the future holds, I have found some comfort in knowing that I’ve met the reason for my Epilepsy. I am one of many reasons for Epilepsy diagnoses. But all of us are on one journey. Seeking a CURE.

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!


  • Eileen Hoowell

    Nice note Tiffany. It is nice to know the reason.
    I was hoping that after my Video EEG.
    I have no known reason, and also can not have surgery.
    But I do feel good trying to go for other options.
    It was the first time I tried for the surgery option and no I know the
    place in the brain where my seizures come from. Having epilepsy
    for over 40 years I can say the advances have been great
    and hope they keep coming!

  • Michael Zell

    I’ve been dealing with my epilepsy for 20 years now as of 8-19-93 and it hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve had to undergo two EEG’s,one MRI and several CT scans over that time with the MRI in 96 indicating dilated ventricles and even though the medication has helped with the grand mal seizures I’ve still been getting absence seizures from time to time.

    Things were going fairly well until about a month ago when I suffered a grand mal seizure almost a month ago….I learned through documentation recently that my diagnosis is complex partial seizures and general coordination disorder.

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