Talk to your doctor

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Talk with your doctor about precautions you can take for side effects from gabapentin:

  • Ask your doctor for advice on diet and exercise to help manage your weight if you are concerned about possible weight gain from gabapentin.
  • Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery until you know you can function normally while taking gabapentin.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about over-the-counter medications that can help relieve some of the more common digestive system side effects.

Gabapentin side effects may make you want to stop taking the drug. However, don’t stop taking it without first talking to your doctor. Stopping gabapentin suddenly can cause serious problems, such as withdrawal symptoms or the return of seizures. Your doctor will help you stop taking the drug safely.

I have epilepsy, and it’s not funny. About 3 million people have epilepsy in the United States, and I can bet you almost all of them would agree that the condition isn’t generally humorous — unless you’re the one managing an unpredictable life that comes with having seizures, in which case you learn to find humor wherever you can.

When I was 19, I started blacking out. I lost consciousness but didn’t pass out, and I would wake up confused, groggy, and very aware that I just hadn’t “been there” for the last minute or so. Then, my short-term memory started suffering. Conversations I’d had only days before fell right out of my head (no pun intended). I was in college, and the last thing I needed was my knowledge evaporating.

Begrudgingly, I visited the doctor, who plainly told me that the “funny spells” were complex partial seizures. Seizures? I didn’t even realize that seizures manifested in any other way than the grand mal variety most people know. But that’s what my blackout episodes were.

The diagnosis explained my suffering short-term memory and my recent struggle to learn new skills. And it explained why I felt intense déjà vu paired with irrational fear and a sense of impending doom right before my consciousness disappeared into oblivion. The seizures explained it all.

My seizures had not only been causing me to black out, they also caused me behave erratically and unpredictably, only to have me regain consciousness moments later with little to no knowledge of what I’d just done. Scary? Yes. Dangerous? Absolutely. Hilarious? Sometimes!

You see, if you knew me, you’d know I try very hard to be considerate and professional. I’m not the girl who gets into confrontations or who needs to have the last word. So, given that, I’ve been able to laugh (a lot) at some of the crazy things I’ve done while having a seizure. I don’t take for granted that I’ve never hurt myself or put myself in situations where harm was imminent. I’m eternally grateful that I’m alive and stable today because of my incredible support system and medical team.

So I laugh because there have been hilarious moments that get me through. They remind me it could have been so much worse, but it wasn’t. Here are a few of my favorite tales, and (just this once) you’re invited to laugh, too.

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