I've been waiting to tell this story until all the facts and tests were in.... and they are. On January 22 of this year I suffered a Status Non Epileptic Grand Mal seizure that resulted in a compression fracture of of the L2 vertebra and possibly L4 as well. What this means is that I suffered a twenty minutes seizure (a extreme Grand Mal seizure could last 5 minutes, once they exceed that time they can result in heart attacks and strokes due to the unregulated electrical activity), This seizure was Status, meaning it neither gradual in beginning or ending but remained intense throughout the time of activity. It is Non Epileptic as I do not have epilepsy The intensity and duration of the muscle contractions caused the compression fractures in my lower back. All of my doctors and medical advise and my personal belief it that this event was caused by my consumption of a energy drink 30 minutes before the event.
For the last three or four years I have enjoyed energy drinks, usually in the afternoon when my energy lags at work I would drink a Monster drink, I'm not really susceptible to caffeine and never really got a big kick out of them but I enjoyed the taste and I figured they certainly wouldn't diminish my energy level. I only drank them on work days and on Sundays I usually wouldn't bother with them. I am a 43 year old healthy man, with no pre-existing conditions, no medications, no history of brain injury or any other factors that might have caused a seizure.
On January 22 I had a long day at work and was expected in Inuvik to attend a Fire Instructors course for the weekend. On the way out I grabbed two Monster energy drinks as I wanted to ensure I was alert for the drive. I drank one in the first forty minutes of the drive and the other during the last half hour it took me to get to Inuvik. I hadn't had time to eat since the evening before so had a thoroughly empty stomach. I went to the store to buy something for dinner and while shopping started to feel a little dizzy, so I took a knee waiting for the feeling to pass. Two hours later I awoke in the hospital. My mind having experienced something like a hard reset, I did not know who I was, where I was, or for that matter what I was. Everything I knew was gone, it was truly terrifying. There were tubes and machines all around me and doctors and nurses running everywhere asking me questions that sounded like some alien language. After about ten minutes my ability to understand English came back and I could understand the words but was unable to speak, as I knew the words but didn't know how to make my own voice work, I didn't know which muscles controlled that and couldn't make a sound.
About twenty minutes later everything clicked and my muscles knew how to do what I asked them and I started answering and asking all the questions that had been running around in my mind for the last half hour. I had a lot of pain everywhere in my body, at least everywhere with large muscles, it felt as if I had had a extreme workout that was immediately followed by a severe beating of the Mike Tyson type. The doctors explained that this was expected after such a traumatic event as I had experienced. I was assisted at the store by a security guard and a gentleman from Northwind industries until the ambulance arrived for my body about 15 minutes after the incident began. The ambulance EMT had attended the seizure for 5 minutes as well before my body was able to be moved to the ambulance and to the hospital.
Thirty minutes after I had regained awareness I was released from the hospital and grabbed a taxi to my hotel for the evening. I was in a lot of pain and had a lot of difficult phone calls to make and just wanted to sit down and sleep the pain away. The next morning when I tried to get up for my course the pain was now localized to my back and I was unable to sit up in bed, I ended up rolling onto the floor and slithering to the bathroom where I was able to use the toilet and vanity to hoist myself somewhat vertical after about 15 minutes of struggling and excruciating pain. I hobbled my way to the living room and started googling my condition to see if it was normal, it felt as if the pain would kill me. I found that after seizure pain was normal so I spent the next hour trying to put some clothes on. I went to my course as I was intently focused on achieving Fire Instructor status, and spent the next 10 hours sitting in a hard plastic chair desperately trying to focus beyond the pain on the lessons being taught. I endured, that evening was much the same but to my surprise there was not relief from the pain, not laying on a hard surface, not sitting on the couch, not on the bed, absolutely nothing helped. This was actually something of a relief as I knew I had to live with the pain, therefore the course was easier knowing that wherever I was I was going to be in pain, so therefor I might as well be at my course.
Five days after the seizure the pain had not decreased. The nurse was in town so I went down to see him to make sure this lingering pain was normal. It wasn't and he immediately shot me up with something and called for the ambulance to take me to Inuvik. 5 hours later I was diagnosed with a compression fracture of my back and given a wide assortment of pain pills, this offered me hope, maybe I could manage the pain as the doctor had explained to me that the nature of the break meant there was nothing they could do other than pain management. I returned home with my assortment of pills looking forward to taking a couple of morphine and finally getting some sleep around the pain. The pain apparently exceeded the ability of morphine as the effect was negligible. All the pills did nothing, so I lived with it, continued to work and survived. after a month I was sent to Yellowknife to meet as Internist and Neurologist, both of which failed to find a reason for my seizure other than the energy drinks. The wanted me to get a MRI as soon as possible so two months after the seizure I was in Edmonton getting my MRI. And the results are finally in, there is not physical reason for my seizure other than the energy drinks.
So the moral of the story would be, I guess, that sometimes, caution is the better part of valor. after drinking hundred of the damn things Energy drinks had a drastic effect on my life, three months of constant pain and all the fear and concern over what caused the seizure in the first place, next time I'll just have a Coke and as Snickers. I'd never have believed it before this incident, I don't hold a lot of faith with extremists warnings, lawyers or media but sometimes they get it right. My personal view is I will never drink another of these products again, my advise to my friends is be very careful, these thing almost gave me wings literally.
Saturday, June 04, 2011