Stephen about an hour before the seizure
Stephen in hospital the day after
On Saturday the 19th December we went for a walk across the bridge to the town adjacent to Brandys – Stara Boleslav. We were looking in particular for the Wenceslas Cathedral. The town has a couple of beautiful old churches close to the town square. It was a very misty day at first, with quite low visibility. We found a small cafe in the square where we had coffee and cake.
We then walked back across the bridge and into Brandys. There is a Christmas market, with little stalls selling the usual stuff of markets, plus a circle for pony rides and a tiny hand cranked carousel. The last two are very popular for the little ones.
We arrived home at around 2.30 and had a small lunch. We had booked ourselves in to have a meal at De Parade in the evening. Lemir, David’s uncle, gave us his phone number. We thought a rest after our long walk would be a good idea – we only have one room in the apartment, and I was on the bed and Stephen sitting on the couch, as he normally does when having an afternoon rest.
I woke up to him shouting. I saw that he was moving about violently and thought at first that he was having a heart attack, especially as he seemed to be protecting his chest. Then I saw his face and realised it was a seizure. Although I have seen our client’s have seizures they are usually much milder. I tried to time it – I think the tonic-clonic phase lasted about 5 or 6 minutes and started at about 3.15 p.m. Then he started to slump, breathing heavily and drooling. He was not responsive to my words or touch at all. I was trembling and very frightened indeed. The initial recovery phase took about 30 minutes.
Phoning Lemir was the only thing I could think of, as I could not contact emergency services myself. He and his wife responded right away and called an ambulance. I spoke with emergency services, giving them our address.
I then tried to think of the timing so that I could report what had happened. Lemir and his wife arrived at about the same time as the paramedics. By then we seemed to be able to get through to Stephen a bit, although he wanted to go to sleep. The paramedic confirmed that it would be OK for him to sleep, but Lemir wanted him to be awake.
To get him into the ambulance they had to get him on his feet and go down in the lift holding him upright. At the front entrance they put him on the stretcher. Lemir and Misa drove me the short distance to our local hospital – about 400 metres away. Stephen was able to respond to questions. Stephen asked to go to the toilet and had a major bowel movement. This could have happened during the seizure, but he was fortunate that he did not wet or soil himself.
He was given something to relax him and put on a drip. They took blood tests and waited for the results, whilst I filled in paperwork. Lemir and his wife had been on their way out of the town, but they were there long enough to help pay for the ambulance. At this stage I was having to do a lot of paperwork and pay for things upfront in cash.
The doctor decided to send him to the specialist neurological clinic at a major hospital in Prague. That meant another ambulance and payment upfront. They suggested I follow in a taxi as it would be cheaper than going with Stephen. I went into town to get some more money, then caught a taxi. I arrived at the new hospital shortly after Stephen. At this stage, he could get up if asked. They gave him a CT scan and also checked his AF signs. He was able to confirm that he is in constant AF, so nothing unusual really.
They decided to keep him in hospital for a couple of nights as he could not have the EEG until Monday. He has been fairly comfortable in hospital with the adjustable bed helping him to position himself to cope with headache and nausea. He is able to eat some of each meal.
Stephen has no memory of what happened. The first thing he remembers was Lemir telling him he should stay awake.
I went home quite late and was very anxious about being alone in the apartment where I had seen Stephen in such a terrible state. However, because I had also seen him recovered, it didn’t feel too bad. I slept, but had a long awake time in the middle. Robyne was awake by then, so I got in touch with her using Facebook messenger. I also communicated with Lesley. George has been keeping in contact as well and said we can ask him for help at any time.
Sunday morning I spoke with Mum as it is our usual time. Robyne, Marie and Geoff had been visiting and I hoped they were still there, but they had all gone home. I’m not sure Mum really took it all in, but as I had chided her a few weeks ago for not letting us know she had a bad fall I didn’t think I should keep it from her. Robyne said that Jamie and Tracy have told her that Mum does not appear to be her usual self since the fall.
With Matthew – again it was our normal time to communicate – so I rang up and spoke with Hidde. Brian and Wendy had just left after visiting him, so it was a good time to say that we couldn’t get in touch and would contact him on Tuesday. I told Hidde what had happened, but did not think I could talk with Matt and pretend that everything was OK.
I had packed up some things to take to Stephen, and then walked over to the town square to get some more money. At that stage I thought I would have to keep paying for everything in cash.
I then walked to De Parade. It wasn’t open, but the staff knew me and opened the door to let me in. He rang a taxi for me and I was able to wait in the warm restaurant for it to arrive.
Yesterday Stephen had a headache most of the day, and some nausea. He was happy enough to just rest and take things in. On the taxi ride home I found that the taxi driver lived in the same block of units as us. We arranged to meet in the morning at 9.00 a.m. to take me back to the hospital. Even so, Stephen had had the EEG before I arrived. He has had nausea most of today, still able to eat, but not fancying much.
We have been waiting since about 10.00 a.m. for the doctor to come and talk with him about the results of the EEG. A junior doctor has confirmed that he will have to stay in for another 24 hrs.
The hospital have asked me to get in touch with our insurer so that they can being to deal with them. I had planned to get in touch anyway today.
I have spoken with Allianz, and also with the hospital accounts department, and hopefully things are getting underway. Yesterday I found a demountable selling pizza slices for my lunch, but today went up the street to a bakery. There is a machine downstairs which is good for cold drinks, I got a hot drink there yesterday, but don’t seem to be able to get a hot drink from the machine today. I forgot to mention that Stephen was hungry on Saturday evening, but it was too late to get any hospital food. I was able to get him a roll from the machine and he ate the lot.
According to Wikepedia, older adults have a reasonable chance of having a seizure once in their lives with no obvious trigger.
I think it has been the sheer physical exertion of this trip. Not having a car meant we were doing a tremendous amount of walking during the day, with an uphill slope on the way back to the apartment in Croydon. He wouldn’t catch the tram as it would cost us $6 for a one stop ride. We went out on a long walk on that Saturday. We came back, had some food, and were resting when it happened. That’s the best I can come up with.
We also became very stressed the previous day when we drove about 25 kilometres to a nearby town. We shared the driving, but we have to be alert all of the time – both of us – getting used to driving on the other side and the manual controls and dealing with different road signs and rules. The time away as a whole has involved a tremendous amount of physical and mental energy – which has its upsides of course, but can be overstimulating.
Lesley is sceptical of this theory, since all the walking has also made us very fit. But, there is getting reasonable exercise, and there is walking to the point of utter exhaustion. We were coming back from doing some shopping one day. I had forged ahead because I was so tired and wanted the effort to be over, but Stephen had to stop to have a little break. A young woman offered to help him get the bags to our building and he accepted her help.
Still, I found it helpful to speak with her on Saturday evening because she reminded me that Mark has had a one off seizure and has been OK since it happened. Stephen thinks it was about four years ago.
There may be no actual trigger for the seizure, but there is family history (his mother and younger brother) of having one off seizures, which means there may be a family vulnerability. We were advised by the doctor on Saturday evening that Stephen should have a MRI on his return to Australia.
It is now after 3.00 p.m. and we have still not heard from the doctor about the results of the EEG.
We have not made a decision about going home early at this stage.