Yesterday I had an EEG for the first time, and it was an interesting experience.
Let me walk you through the basics if you’ve never had one, or if you want to compare your experience of one with mine. 🙂
So first the EEG technician got me lay down, the bed had a rail. (which I suspect would be useful if someone did seize during a procedure)
The process of putting on the electrodes felt like it probably took at least 15 minutes.
The tech marked out on my head where the electrodes needed to go with washable ink, she also measured to make sure they were at least close to symmetrical, and then washed each spot so that less oils or such could interfere with the adhering of the electrodes as she put them on one by one.
It felt like about 10 or 12 of them, I wasn’t actually counting, though maybe I should have been?
The sensation was a little more distracting, electrodes had a gel-like glue pad, it felt cushiony and was not super sticky like I was expecting. It actually felt kind of neat, like gel-shoe insole cutouts getting stuck to my head. (Yes, I was/am as amused by that thought as you imagine.)
Then she adjusted how my head was sitting so that my neck was quite supported, told me to try to get comfortable and try to be relaxed.
In the first test, she got me to open and close my eyes several times. I think contrasting the readings from each.
Then she got me to answer a few simple questions. (name, age, DOB)
Next about 20 minutes of laying still with my eyes closed, she told me I could sleep if I wanted. I think this was basically to watch what my brain does, and looks like, when it’s left to it’s own devices. I asked her if I should think of anything in particular and she said no but to try to relax if possible.
I did okay at relaxing, for me that is, which means I did not do a spectacular job, but I stayed mostly still.
My mind wandered all over the place, so I tried to pick things to focus on: butterfly/moth wings, and simple math.
When that failed I tired to distract myself as I would if I was falling asleep, by mulling over things in reverie, and considering story concepts, but there was unfamiliar hospital noise audible still and I kept getting distracted by it.
In the end 20 minutes is too short a time for me to relax in an unfamiliar place.
At this point in the test they would sometimes do a breathing exercise, where they get you to hyperventilate on purpose for about a minute, however I have difficulties switching back to ‘automatic’ breathing after ‘manually’ breathing, so she opted not to do this, and explained that it’s more common to trigger an attack with a type of epilepsy found in young children. (I wish I’d asked her what it’s called)
So she got me to open and close my eyes again and then we moved on to ‘the light test’. This wasn’t quite what I expected, they actually don’t have you look at the light, or at least she didn’t get me to. Instead, she had me close my eyes, and put the light above me. The strobing was visible through my eyelids and she told me before she turned it on that it would start and pause, and also warned me right before it started. (I supposed I had expected the test would involve shocking me with it)
Each time it paused it came back it was with a different frequency of pulse.
From the inside of my eyelids it reminded me of light passing through water, and bending and pulsing according to how many waves are on the surface (either from swimmers or from the wind), and if you don’t know what I mean, go to a clear water source on a bright day where you can see the bottom and just look at the bottom, you’ll see the light refracted there. 😉
Then she turned back on the light and got me to do the open and closing eyes for the last time and this was the end of the test.
Far more simple and less involved than I had thought. In one respect it was exactly what I thought, which is that I hadn’t been afraid of it, and I was correct not to be, it wasn’t actually scary.
Now maybe it would be if I thought it would actually cause a seizure, and for those who worry about that, it might help to know: EEG’s rarely cause someone to seize.
It isn’t the point of the test, the point it to keep at the edge and see if you get abnormal brain activity. Sometimes someone tips their brains capacity and experiences one, but that’s not the desired result, the point of an EEG test is to walk at the edge but not actually induce one.
Mind you, to my knowledge I’ve never had a seizure, so I don’t have the visceral fear that comes along with knowing what experiencing one is like, but that data point still stands for those who have experienced seizures previously, they very rarely seize during an EEG.
So take heart, all yee who worry. 🙂
For myself, I suspect that this test will come back ‘normal’. I didn’t have any vertigo feelings during it (though I almost wish I had, because then I’d know for sure if those are “simple seizures”, probably not, they are more likely an issue with my vestibular system, but it’s still up in the air.) I didn’t have any other really odd sensations to my perception either.
Truthfully I don’t think I have a seizure disorder, but it’s not impossible, and if I do, then so be it, better to know.
There are reasons to test anyways, because of the way my panic attacks manifest, and because of the weird days of vertigo, and because my sister does seem to have a seizure disorder.
Any one of these factors would make it worth testing, but all of them mean not testing would be silliness.
So now I’ve had an EEG.
I found it interesting, even if it may not be conclusive, it’s still a kind of neat thing to experience.
I’ll get to know how my brain waves while I’m being average, comepare to other peoples while they’re being average, and that’s kind of a neat thought.
Makes me want to play mind-ball at science world, except reverse mind ball, competing for the most active brain, I feel like my brain is up for that challenge. 😀