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August 16, 2009

Just a Little Health Advice from Dr. Ace

I'm not a doctor, of course. So, um, don't take my advice and sue me. Talk to your doctor.

In addition to having panic disorder, which I mentioned in a post long ago, I'm also an epileptic. Yeah -- I'm the total package, baby. Some men might go to pieces in a firefight; I go to pieces on line at the movies for 17 Again.

I'd like to think my brain burns just too damn brightly for conventional human biology to sustain it, but, uh, I think I just got knocked out one time in football in highschool, because I'm a weenus.

Anyway, a long time ago I went on the Atkins diet because I'd quit smoking and ballooned to weights I had never before imagined were possible.


I had always had trouble with epilepsy -- grand mals on occasion, but even when I didn't have those, I often had what might be petite mals, but I'm not sure if that's what they are. "Auras," maybe, but whetever they were, I would get what I call "seizure-y" or "seizure-ish" for lack of a better term. Dizzy. Unsteady on my feet. Frequently beset by neural disconnections, my brain kind of getting its wireless service interrupted, losing thoughts. Brain-lightning -- basically I could feel crackles of uncontrolled brain electricity going all crazy in my head.

Those I might have once a week. They weren't grand mals, but you wouldn't want to be driving a car when you had them. Nor would you want to be on a subway. Or at work. Or really anywhere except your bed, in case you suddenly lost control of your legs or had a full-on grand mal.

Anyway, when I went on Atkins, that all stopped. I didn't notice it at first -- sad, but one rarely notices when his health is good; we only notice when it was bad. I haven't had a grand mal since -- like seven years running or something -- and I almost never have the "seizure-ish" feeling, either.

Someone was nice enough to send me this article at some point, noting that low-carb diets had been the prescription of choice for epileptics before pills were found to control it.

I was never told that by neurologist. I was just put on a pill, which controlled the seizures, mostly, but never ever actually eliminated them. It seems the old ways of medicine were forgotten by many.

Anyway, so, by going on a low-carb diet, I almost completely (almost -- it never completely goes away, you know) stopped not only true seizures but pre-seizure like brain disruptions.

(By the way, no, I never stopped taking the pills, either. Though there were times I wondered if I could get away with it. So it wasn't just low-carb, it was low-carb supplementing an anti-seizure pill. But that extra bit helped immensely.)

I mention this because I went off the low-carb diet recently, kind of deciding I was too lazy to shop for low-carb stuff and ordering a lot of, um, General Tso's Chicken and other crap, loaded with sugar and breading.

All last week I was dizzy and fuzzy and unsteady on my feet.

You may have noticed a lot of typos and badly-phrased sentences. Yeah, I did too. A lot of the sentences I wrote were kind of garbled but I just couldn't get my head straight enough to write them better.

I realized that maybe my body was reacting badly to the re-introduction of high levels of carbs, and stopped with that nonsense. Nothing but mozzarella and slim-jims for me for three days.

Well, today, after having, I guess, cleared out some of the glycogen (stored sugar) in my body, I finally awoke clear-headed and without dizziness or other worrying symptoms.

I'm sure there are some epileptics reading this site (hey-- Julius Caesar was one; mark of greatness), and if drugs aren't controlling the disease to your satisfaction, I strongly suggest talking to your doctor about a low-carb, or at least reduced-carb, diet.

A reduced carb diet is relatively easy -- just skip sugar entirely (and that means orange juice too; healthy in some ways, but loaded with sugar) and be very sparing about carb-rich items like pasta, rice, and potatoes. (It helps that there are perfectly agreeable low (or lower) carb versions of most of these; Dreamfields, for example, makes a perfectly acceptable reduced-carb pasta.)

Looking back, when I was getting most of my grand mals, I was in college, 1) getting drunk, 2) not getting enough sleep, and 3) hitting the grease trucks at 3 am to over-indulge in carbicide. 1 and 2 of course were big drivers there, but I think 3 was a critical part of it too.

Anyway, I don't expect this advice to help many people, but I'm sure it will help a few. It does seem to work, at least for me. Not only can I attest that low-carb meant almost the complete reduction of seizure-like symptoms, but that the moment I started up with the carbs again I had the symptoms back again.

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posted by Ace at 03:24 PM

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