I love tests. It’s a nerd thing. Possibly also an arrogant / competitive thing. Well, I’m both excited and terrified for this next one. (Which is how I feel approaching all the best kinds of tests. Without the terror, acing the test is not nearly as satisfying.)
It’s a Video EEG. It’s an inpatient procedure that lasts between 2 and 10 days. I go in on September 16th to Abbott Northwestern Hospital here in Minneapolis.
So what’s involved? A lot, as it turns out. They hook me up to a bunch of electrodes and monitor the electrical activity in my brain. I already had the short (40 minute) version of this test several months ago after the first big seizure (read about that test in “So This One Time, When I Thought I Was Dying…“).
So what’s the goal of this test? To learn more about what’s going on in my brain when I seize. Let’s think about that for a second. How would they see seizure electrical activity? Oh wait, they need me to have seizures. Sweet.
Apparently they do this by (1) reducing my seizure medication or (2) keeping me up all the time without sleep (a common seizure trigger). If they’re using sleep deprivation, apparently they sometimes have patients wear a helmet when they’re walking around because they’re so likely to seize. Maybe I should bring my bike helmet. I’m sure it’s more awesome than whatever they’d
try to get me to make me wear. So far I find this image hilarious.
After being admitted electrodes will be applied to my head, face, and collarbone. Then they wrap my head (but not my face) with gauze to keep the electrodes in place. Or I get to wear a funny hat. I’m not sure which strategy Abbott uses. I’m hoping for the gauze because then we might get to decorate it. But a hat might be more comfortable. (This is going to be an attractive look, let me tell you.)
My friend Cassie already asked if I’m allowed to wear a tiara but I forgot to ask the tech so I’ll have to check once I’m there and let her know if I need to borrow one from her extensive collection. A baseball cap would be more my style, but I can change it up for our mutual entertainment.
Then they take me to my room, which is private. (I’m not sure if this is good or bad. Probably good. I’m still anxious about watching someone else have a seizure and everyone who is there is probably having seizures. Yes, I do realize that is hypocritical or ironic or both.)
My room will be equipped with EEG equipment, a video camera, and a microphone. A dim light must stay on all night so the camera can see me. A tech or multiple techs and doctors will be in another room watching me on their monitors. The whole time. (Are you getting creeped out yet? If not, there might be something wrong with you.)
Apparently there’s also a lounge on that floor so I can go
analyze hang out with the other inmates patients. That part I’m pretty excited about. I keep picturing people my age, but a huge percentage of people with seizures are kids or people over 65. If they’re kids, I’m already thinking of all kinds of ways we (that’s right, I just drafted you all into service) can cheer them or their families up.
The EEG tech I called to get the inside scoop on what to bring made it sound like the other patients don’t often opt to hang out in the lounge. So I will have to work on a strategy to convince them to come out of hiding. Or infiltrate their rooms. (Okay, yeah… that came out more creepy than it sounded in my head.)
What can I wear? My own clothing. (Score… I seriously dislike hospital gowns and would probably have disallowed all visiting if I had to wear one. I get all shuddery just thinking about wearing them for days on end.) I think the shirts have to button/snap in the front. I don’t own anything like that so there will be some creative trips to goodwill in my near future. I’m thinking all flannel all the time. Mmm… a very good excuse to purchase flannel. Just in time for fall. Which will naturally mean we need to sit by some kind of fake fire (large drawing of a fire?) and drink
red wine hot chocolate. With little tiny marshmallows.
Are visitors allowed? Yes. And apparently visiting hours aren’t really enforced. We’ll see about that. According to the person I spoke with I can have as many visitors as I want at any given time and there’s no real time that they have to leave. But it’s family or friends… so all you strangers are out of luck. And I can have a cot put in my room for overnight guests if I want. If you want more info on Abbott’s official visitor policies, click here.
What can I take with me? Electronics (Thank you Lord. Seriously. I need to download all the seasons of Criminal Minds ASAP.) My cell phone (allegedly… we’ll see about that one). Books. DVDs (there’s a player in the room). Crayons. My usual (and excessive) stack of pens, journals, Bible, etc. Snacks.
What can’t I have? Sharp objects. You know, because I’m dangerous. Illegal drugs. Firearms. Crossbows. Swords. You get the idea.
Things that I think would be fun to do while I’m there to keep from resorting to boredom-induced pacing:
- Convince the other patients to do morning yoga with me. I’m assuming the docs would prefer yoga over box jumps, which would probably mess with the EEGs too much. But it’d be interesting to see what our EEGs said while we were doing yoga… not to mention the priceless pics we could take.
- Make some epic wall art. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to have paints in there with me, but 2-10 days sounds like good arts and crafts project time to me. Arts and crafts that don’t involve scissors. I’ll have to think about that one. I saw some colorful tile art at the hospital today when I was getting my blood draw and it looked pretty sweet. Like a puzzle for adults. Although it sounds supply-intensive and I imagine the hospital frowns upon moving in with suitcases full of art supplies. I could always just avoid all eye contact so that I won’t see any frowns. Just kidding, that would make me seem disturbed.
- Read every book ever written by Lee Child and Vince Flynn. In order. I only have half of them so I should hit up the thrift store (the best place to buy used mass market paperbacks, if you were unaware). If you have one for me to borrow, I will take it. If it’s a hardcover, you should just remove the dust jacket now… I hate those and always manage to bend them up.
- Read all the epic / hilarious / completely pointless but endearing letters my friends are going to write to me after they read my post (coming later this week) about how I’m going through a major letter-writing phase right now.
- Drink good coffee. I’m hoping making my own coffee is allowed. I should have asked. Boiling water in my little plug-in water kettle may be considered a dangerous activity? In which case, these people need to chill out and I will have to have my coffee or boiling water delivered covertly. (Dave Moss, I’m looking at you…)
- Write letters to the soldiers I just got assigned to (again, see future post on letter writing).
- Look at all my pretty flowers that my friends and family did not purchase. Okay, here’s what I’m thinking on this one. Whole flower arrangements are often both (1) expensive and (2) ugly. I like being outside. I will miss being outside. But most flower bouquets look like they were specifically designed to be at funerals. The opposite of reminding me of being outside. But I do love flowers. So if you want to bring / send / bribe one of my parents to deliver flowers, you should go with (in order of increasing favoritism) one really pretty flower (like one lily), little plants with flowers (like the orange flower plant from Lunds), flowers from your own yard, or flowers you illegally stole from the side of the bike path (preferably under cover of darkness). The only exception is sunflowers. I freaking love sunflowers. And farmers markets always have pretty ones this time of year.
- Have a Settlers of Catan family marathon. Stop laughing. It’s legit.
That’s it for now folks. I know a lot of you who read this have probably gone through VEEGs before so if you have recommendations on what to bring, shoot me an email. I’d love any ideas!