Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Off Topic - Ugly Blog

Yes. I know. My blog is still ugly... but it is ugly in a "not green" sort of way. So that is an improvement. Bear with me.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Off Topic - Update

Arrrggg... none of my graphics or colors are working very well. I am going to have to stop for the day. Probably won't get back to fix this until Monday.

Off Topic - Bowing to Public Pressure

This is the type of color scheme you get when you bow to public pressure - Blue, Pink, Lavender.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Off Topic - Goodbye Green!

I will be changing the color scheme for the blog to something better over the next few day. Most likely, it will take several changes before I find something I like, so bear with me as the colors change. Oh, and feel free to comment on this post if you have suggestions or sarcastic comments.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

EpiQ Teen

EpiQ Teen is the first epilepsy site I have found that is dedicated to teenagers. It has a lot of interesting and helpfull information tailored towards teenagers who have just discovered that they have epilepsy.

One of the articles I found most interesting was advice on who and how to tell about your epilepsy. This is the article:

Telling others about your epilepsy

Teens are faced with many issues, such as dating, and what you friends think of you. Some even feel they have to change to be part of a group or fit in. But you don't have to feel like you don't want to stand out because you have epilepsy because-
As a teen, you're dealing with lots of issues - like dating or what your friends think about you. You may feel like you have to change who you are to fit in - just be part of a group. You don't want to stand out or be different because you have epilepsy -but epilepsy doesn't define who you are - each person in our world is unique and it's just one of many special things about you! And differences are what make the world an interesting place! Who? And When?

After finding out you have epilepsy you may think-Who do I tell? And -When's the best time? The people who care most about you and who you see more often will want to know about your epilepsy - family, friends, roommates, neighbours, and co-workers are great sources of support.

Ask these questions when you're trying to decide:

* Who loves me and wants me to live the best possible life?
* Who do I see most often
* Who will notice changes that signal the start of my seizures or a reaction to my medication
* Who can help me with small or errands that may not be safe for me to do by myself?
* Who can I rely on in an emergency to help, check my medication record and contact my family doctor?
* Who can I trust with a key to my home to come in and check on me?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Epilepsy & Behavior Journal

The Epilepsy Foundation has partnered with the Epilepsy & Behavior Journal to provide selected articles from their journal free of charge! As most of these journals charge $30 bucks (US$) or more to download an article, this is a great service. If you have the desire to check out original research on epilepsy, check it out.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Epilepsy v. Landscaping

This weekend I did not have any seizures! I spent the entire weekend landscaping an area of my front yard. We ripped out about 20 Creeping Juniper and in their place added flowering shrubs, ornimental grasses, and bulbs of various sorts. The results were fantastic. (It was not without cost... I was completely worn out after ripping out the juniper on Saturday. I ended up sleeping 12 hrs, was completely sore, felt like i had been beat, and did not make it to my religious facility of choice the next morning)

Although I normally have fewer seizures on the weekends, this was one of the best. If I were to conduct my statistical research the way the Associated Press does, I could safely report that landscaping your yard reduces seizure activity in the brain.

(this study was of one individual over a two day period)

Friday, May 19, 2006

What a slacker...

Ok. I admit. I have been a pretty slack blogger this week. Posting nothing at all in a full 7 days. To any frequent visitors. I apologize.

It will all be good soon. Like some hack magician, I will back-post the entire week to make it appear that I have been a busy little blogger. And then, like an illusionist, I will make this post disappear altogether.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

White Matter Atlas - Diffusion Tensor Imaging Atlas of the Brain's White Matter Tracts

Wow! The White Matter Atlas site shows Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) scans. Once it loads (lots of data) you can use tools to scroll through DTI scans of a brain. They are in color and are very cool. Highly recomended.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jen's VNS Therapy Diary

This blog chronicles a lady with a VNS who has it to treat depression. She writes a lot about the side effects she experiences. She is one of the few bloggers that list their settings.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Physical Properties of the Nerve Fibers

Each of the three types of nerve fibers that are in the Vagus nerve have different physical characteristics. The primary differences are in the diameter of the nerve and the presence of myeline. Large diameter nerves transmit signals faster. Nerves with a "coating" of myelin transmit signals faster.

Fiber Types:
- myelinated
- largest diameter axon (5 - 20 micrometers)
- fastest nerve impulse transmission (27 - 280 mph)
- myelinated
- axon diameter is smaller than A fibers (2 - 3 micrometers)
- slower impulse transmission than A fiber (32 mph)
- unmyelinated
- smallest axon diameter (0.5 - 1.5 micrometers)
- slowest impulse transmission (1 - 4 mph)

So... does any of this matter? Not so much. It is enough to understand that the different types of fibers control different types of organs. It is belived that the C-Fibers in the Vagus nerve are responsible for controlling slow things, like the heart. A-Fibers most likely control things like the voice box. B-Fibers... well, I have not come accross research on the B-Fibers (if anyone has any, pls let me know).

Here is the important part: It takes drasticly different VNS settings in order to activate the different types of nerve fibers and cause them to send signals...

You will have to wait till tommorow to learn about that... yes, I can tell the anticipation is killing you. ;)

A Cyberonics visitor!

This morning I got a hit from someone on the Cyberonics domain! I believe it was my first visit from the company that makes the VNS. They did not stay long. Maybe they will poke aound my Living With Epilepsy main page on the next visit...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Research of the VNS

I have been doing a lot of research on how the Vagus Nerve Stimulator works. One of the key things to understand about the system is the nerve bundle itself. The Vagus Nerve contains 3 types of nerve fibers: A-fibers, B-fibers, and C-Fibers. Each type of nerve fiber/cell requires a different stimulus in order to trigger the cell to activate & send a signal toward the brain.
The nerve bundle in the post below is not a vagus nerve, but one of the smaller nerve bundles in the body. Over the next few weeks, I will post more about the type of stimulation a partcular nerve fiber needs in order to reach the activation threshold.

Cross Section of a Nerve Fiber

This is a cross section of a peripheral nerve. The blue arrow is pointing out the individual nerve fibers that look like an eye ball with a pupil in the middle. The red arrows are pointing to the outer dark border of the nerve fibers. This line coresponds to the Neurilemma, or Schwann-Cell Myelin Sheath. The black arrows are pointing to what would be the"pupil of the eye" in our analogy, which is the axon and the axoplasm, which is the cytoplasm of the axon. These are the main features of the Nerve Fiber that can be seen in a cross section.

Blue Arrows - Nerve Fiber

Red arrow - Neurilemma or Schwann-Cell Myelin Sheath.

Black arrow - Axons of Nerve fibers

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You know you have epilepsy when....

I ran into a huge string of posts on the Epilepsy Foundation messageboard. The topic was: You know you have epilepsy when...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Webcast of Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Super cool webcast of a VNS surgery. Not for the faint of heart. Scapels, organs, blood all there. If you want to see what your surgery will be like or what it was like, check it out. They show the vagus nerve and how the leads are wrapped around it. No nifty diagram here, the real thing!

Friday, May 05, 2006

In the lobby of the Epilepsy Institute of NC

While waiting in the lobby for Dr. Dean, Christa and I met 2 other VNS patients. This was a first for us as there were 2 there and we all had VNS. Amazingly enough, we had all had our implants within a 2 month span.

It was nice to be able to share some of the experinces we had with the impants. All of our incisions were healing quite well, in fact, I wouldn't have been able to tell that the young girl had a VNS except for the magnet she had hooked to her belt. The other lady was doing quite well healing as well. One thing she recomened was Curad Scar Therapy. I have not used this, but intend to. (If anyone reading this has used the product, please leave a message on how well it works!)

Statistics v. VNS

I went to see Dr. Dean today for my VNS checkup. I brought with me a nifty chart of the number of seizures and some pretty cool graphs of the number of seizures I had over the last 4 weeks. The graph clearly showed an improvement over the last 4 weeks, so after consulting with Nurse Cindy and Dr. Dean, I had them keep my VNS settings the same. The graphs were very cool and I will create some images of them in color and post them in the next few days.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Epilepsy Foundation - North Carolina

Today, Christa and I met with the director of the NC chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation of America. We learned all about the events that their chapter has planned this year. Their organization is primarily focused on the medicine fund for people that cannot afford anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). We volunteered to help out with a variety of fundraising efforts, including an upcoming Chili Cook-off that will be held at the local farmer's market. If anyone is interested in the details, let me know.

Monday, May 01, 2006

As for me...

This week is starting out quite well. I did not have any seizures on Saturday or Sunday. Today I have only had 3 simple-partial seizures. My VNS, Keppra, and Lamictal seem to be doing their job fairly well today. :)