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July 30, 2007

Roberts Suffered From Grand Mal Seizure; Suffered One Once Before

The speculation is that he's epileptic. Let me say, as an epileptic who gets grand mal seizures, he is epileptic. One seizure, maybe, possibly, it's some other malady, some acute condition.

A second one, it's chronic, and you're epileptic.

I pleaded with my doctor not to drop the dreaded "epileptic" diagnosis on me when I had my first grand mal. "Maybe it's just I haven't been eating right," I offered.

"Yes, maybe," she said. "But you know who gets epileptic seizures, by and large? Epileptics."

Having just suffered a seizure, I didn't have the mental agility to wriggle out of this logic.

I Should Say... that just because he's epileptic tests will have to be conducted why he's epileptic. It could be diabetes; it could be something terrible like a brain tumor. Or it could be mystery epilepsy. It's understood how seizures occur (back of the envelope explanation: proteins or whatsits form temporary connections between neurons, and another protein or whatsit is supposed to break those connections down shortly after they're made; in an epileptic, the breaking-down part stops happening sometimes, so every neuron remains connected and the brain lights up like a garish Christmas tree, basically burning out as every neuron keeps on firing away), but it's less well understood why it happens.

Unless there's some specific reason for it (structural brain abnormality, tumor, diabetes, etc.), it's usually just a mystery. It just happens to some people. Personally I think I got mine after having been conked unconscious by a fellow football teammate who would wind up playing for Arizona State (huge guy, hit like a truck), but then, it just might be that I was born with a screwed-up brain and it took a while to begin acting up.

And also, I guess, all the crack and amyl nitrate didn't help matters any.

Michelle has more on this.

In case anyone has any doubt, it is a quite livable condition if medicine can control it (which medicine can, in most cases, though it might take a couple of tries to get the right medicine to the patient). In some cases, however, it's uncontrollable by medication. By the odds, Roberts has the former sort. He also doesn't seem to have a bad case of it, having had so few of them and so late in life.

I'd also suggest Atkins for Roberts. Low-carb diets are often prescribed to young epileptics -- high carbs, high sugar meals tend to provoke seizures -- and since I've been on Atkins or semi-Atkins I've had no seizures and very few "halos" (pre-seizure like problems).

He might have to miss a hearing from time to time if he's experiencing halos. Otherwise, he should be okay.

Epilepsy is pretty inconvenient from time to time, and can play havoc on your career, but I figure a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court will get cut a little slack if he's feeling "seizury." And if he is feeling seizury-- cancel everything, take a triple dose of medicine (if not more), take a nap in cool quiet place until it passes.

I'm sure this will be disappointing news to many lefties currently speculating this may force him to resign from the bench.

In case anyone's wondering why I never said I was epileptic before... well, you never asked, did you?

I guess this is a good time to bring up my favorite epileptic joke, courtesy of neither_steve_in_hb_or_not_steve_in_hb.

Playing on the old myth that you should stick an object in an epileptic's mouth during a seizure to keep him from biting his tongue (and it is a myth -- he'll bite his tongue, and it will hurt for a week, but don't do anything that could obstruct the windpipe), everytime I so much as stumbled or spilled a drink in college neither_steve_in_hb_or_not_steve_in_hb would immediately dryly advise, "Quick, stick a wallet in his mouth."

Every time. And it just kept getting funnier.

"He's Lying About His Seizure!" This will be the claim from the left, due to early reports that he had "just fallen" and was "fine."

Having went through this myself, it's not a lie. I didn't believe I was epileptic until around my third seizure. Must just have been some particularly severe brainfart, I figured. It would pass, like a cold.

Me Too Then (or MTT, as he is now known, like "P-Diddy") is a doc (hope that's giving nothing away) and says:

Well, close enough anyway.

Yes, "epilepsy" denotes recurrent, unprovoked seizures.

And it is possible that Judge Robers had a primary generalized seizure (Grand Mal) or statistically more likely, he suffered a secondary generalized seizure (often called a Grand Mal, but actually represents something very different.)

Taking all comers, the most common cause of seizures is "idiopathic" or unknown.

And yes, most people with seizures lead completely normal lives and have their seizures controlled with medication.

The way in which you know whether or not the seizure occured before the fall is to take the history of the patient and whoever witnessed the event.

Often the witness will say that the individual may have stopped what they were doing or their behavior changed, i.e. they stared, stoped speaking, etc. and then the fall occured.

Or the patient will say they felt the seizure coming on (the prim-ictal event) and then lost consciouness.

In any case, it may be known that Judge Roberts has a seizure disorder and that this is "no big deal."

On the other hand, if this seizure is symptomatic of something else, then it could be significant.

Hope that's helpful.

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posted by Ace at 07:07 PM

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