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Epilepsy or something more sinister....??

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Old 08-22-2011, 08:40 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
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Joey1987 HB User
Epilepsy or something more sinister....??

Hi guys. My 65 year old father has just been diagnosed with Alzheimers and epilepsy in the past week and the past month respectively. I have some questions regarding sudden onset of symptoms.

My father's mother passed away last month. Two days after her death he lost consciousness and fell flat on the tile floor. We had trouble waking him up and after he awoke, he could not remember that his mother had passed away. He was admitted to hospital with a concussion. For the following four days or so, he was very confused. He could not concentrate when we spoke with him and kept looking towards the patient in the bed next to him. He still did not remember that his mother passed away. Also, he was quite adamant that we was hiring his hospital room and that he hired it with four chairs, but now there is only one! Luckily all these symptoms subsided over the next few days and the drs decided to discharge him. The drs did an EEG and MRI before he was discharged. EEG showed no abnormalities, while MRI also showed nothing significant. They told us that his hypertension meds could've played a role in his hospitalization, and that his blood pressure most probably suddenly fell, causing him to pass out. Since then, he has been off one of the blood pressure meds, but is still taking another one. His blood pressure is normal now (most of the time).

However, on the day that he was to be discharged, he lost consciousness and slumped over in his bed. After this "seizure" he had trouble remembering things we told him less than a minute before. The drs then revised their EEG findings and said that they did find some small abnormalities. MRI also suddenly indicated brain shrinkage. It was then that they diagnosed my dad with epilepsy. He stayed another few days in hospital and was then discharged.

On a routine visit to the doctor, his blood pressure was dangerously high (195/105) and he was immediately admitted to hospital. Dr also ordered a psychiatrist to visit him, regarding my grandmother's death. The psych ordered some testing by a neuropsychologist. Neuropsych then diagnosed my father with Alzheimers. We were glad to know what was wrong with him and to start a treatment plan, but some questions still remain.

Although the family has seen a slight decline in my father's cognitive abilities the past few months, he was still working and did not show any major symptoms of memory loss. Maybe we missed the symptoms, or he hid it..... However, three days ago my father could not remember that he saw a neuropsych of psych while he was in the hospital. This struck us as odd, as we was still talking about these drs a few days before. Last night, he started to experience severe short term memory loss (the same as right after he had the seizure in hospital) where he kept asking us about his car's battery and about going to church. We would answer him, and he would keep asking the same question. This has never happended before, except for when he had the fit in hospital. My dad has also complained about headaches for the past year or so. This morning, we asked my dad to get dressed for church. He would go to his room and just stand/sit there. We kept having to remind him to finish dressing. He would put on his shirt and walk around, and we would again remind him. This is also a new symptom. He has been able to dress himself without assistance since he was discharged from hospital. I also noticed that his left foot is dragging along the floor. Is it possible that my dad could actually be suffering from transient ischemic attacks or some other vascular activity not showing up on MRI?

My question is: is it normal for Alzheimers symptoms to appear/worsen so suddenly? Or could these sudden worsening in memory be due to epilepsy? All of these short term memory symptoms started after his concussion. We are not convinced that Alzheimers is the correct diagnosis. Has anyone experienced the same symptoms?

P.S. The drs did suggest that my dad showed some signs of Parkinsons (such as not walking straight). Since the "fit" in hospital my dad hasn't experienced any more epilepsy symptoms.

Please guys! I would greatly appreciate your opinions.


Hi guys. My dad was supposed to see the dr today, but surprised us all with a seizure at 04:00am. Symptoms: a screaming sound through his teeth followed by rigidity and clenching on teeth. He also turned grey with blue lips, then got very red and sweaty all of a sudden. He then lost consciousness and laboured breathing started - almost like severe apnea. This lasted for a g.ood 30 minutes and by the time the ambulance got here, dad couldn't stick out his tongue or clench his fists. Paramedic said that the symptoms looked more like a cerebrovascular accident (stroke) than epilepsy. Dad was quite confused afterwards :-( He was admitted to hospital and his dr said that the whole episode was due to an allergy to his indapamide meds, which absolutely does not make any sense. After telling the personnel that he suffered a droopy/lazy foot, they ordered an MRI to be done on the cerebellum.

When we went to visit dad this afternoon, we were informed that he had another seizure. It was the same as this morning and they moved him to ICU. He's connected to EEG machine, and all the other fancy stuff to measure vitals. Afterwards he was VERY disoriented and confused. Literally could not remember what you told him 30 seconds ago. However, this seemed to get a little better. I am wondering if the dr will still tell us that he suffered an allergic reaction Hopefully the MRI will shed some light on this.

What I am wondering, is if his memory lapses could be due to seizures and not Alzheimers at all. I still find it hard to believe that he has Alzheimers. The dr did however note earlier this morning that he has "quite advanced Alzheimers". How on earth can a new diagnosis of Alzheimers progress to "quite advanced" in 4 weeks?!! Do you guys think that it's possible that his "weird" symptoms the past few days may have been a precursor to last night's seizure?

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Old 08-26-2011, 07:10 PM   #2
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Krista2882 HB UserKrista2882 HB User
Re: Epilepsy or something more sinister....??

Hi Joey,
Sorry to hear about the hard time that your dad is having. To answer your questions about memory loss and seizures, there are certain types of seizures that can cause short term memory loss. I think it's usually right before or after a seizure, but he could also be having simple partial seizures that aren't as obvious to observers. Maybe he should have an extended EEG/ video EEG. They'll admit him to the hospital, hook him up to an EEG, and observe him 24 hours by video camera. they'll give him a button to push whenever he feels a seizure coming on. He'll probably be in the hospital for a few days. I was in for 4 days when I had mine done. It's a good opportunity for them to observe what happens during his seizures, and to detect when he's having one without himself or others realizing it by just observing him. Good luck!

Old 08-29-2011, 10:20 PM   #3
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Location: Saint Louis, MO, United States
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RunnersDad HB User
Re: Epilepsy or something more sinister....??

I am very sorry to hear about your situation and will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.
To offer an answer to your question...As the first responder stated sometimes seizures can cause "post-ictal" symptoms which can most definitely include memory loss as well as lethargy, sleepiness, irritability and a few others.
Given that his seizures are falling into the Status Epilepticus category(15-20min) in length or greater it is likely that the aforementioned symptoms would likely be worse than with shorter seizures. These longer episodes are also more likely to cause permanent damage if not treated properly.
It is possible that he could have Alzheimer's but I find it odd that the memory issues correlate with the seizures. I would press the Neurologists to probe deeper and you might even want to consider some genetic testing/counseling to perhaps find an answer.
Can I ask what they are currently treating the seizures with? (Sorry if you wrote it and I missed it)

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