Feature Story                                                                                Monday, August 3, 2015


Altered States

Brain seizures and my struggle with them

Craig Hill, Publisher


I met world walker Jean Luc Belliveau (R) in Agassiz in 2011. Below, you may have seen me taking photos over the years in Chilliwack.


hat happens when your brain misfires? Most of us know what a seizure is, either through direct experience, or from books and movies. But, do we know what it feels like? I've been learning the hard way.

In 1992, I lost a brother to brain cancer. He had plenty of seizures. No one should have to live through that.

In my case, it has been happening for years and I didn't know it until one morning last December I woke up with a bitten tongue.

They're called "nocturnal seizures" and happen when a person is sleeping. The longer they continue, called a "prolonged seizure", the more chances the person will die or be left in a vegetative state permanently.

It wasn't until my wonderful American girlfriend, who was up visiting, woke to my thrashing that we found out. She jumped up, flicked on the light and my face was contorted. It was scary for her to witness. She sat up petrified for the rest of the night. I'm sorry she went through it.


I wasn't serious about taking the meds. I didn't like the effect. I skipped some, mostly by accident. Then it happened again. And again. The last time was a few days ago. I woke once again with pieces missing from my tongue. This time, my gal called the Chilliwack police from the US, who came and did a wellness check and woke me up.

I could barely get up because I pulled so many muscles in my legs. Walking was virtually impossible.


Now, when I think back, I realize it has been going on for many years.

Back in my salad days, I ran a horse and buggy in downtown Vancouver. One day, while with a skittish and wild horse, I took a shortcut through a parking lot at BC Place to Gastown.


Suddenly, I fainted with the reins in my hands. By the time I woke up, the tri-pacer was in a full boogie, in the opposite direction, heading straight for a line of parked cars. I'd dropped the reins and they were around the horses feet.

With no time left before the animal slammed into the cars, I reached down and grabbed hold of the reins pulling instinctively on one side. The buggy went up on two wheels and the horse raced by missing the cars by inches.

I just thought I had too much sun. So off I went into Gastown, stopping at the fountain and soaking my head. That was in 1989. It's never happened again where I've fainted.

The doctors tell us a person's brain is scrambled for weeks after a seizure. Under the meds, a deep, dark cloud descends.

After each seizure, you almost have to start from scratch, which makes it difficult to cover news, take timely photos and interview people let alone do HTML. Two days after the latest nocturnal seizure, last Wednesday, I still couldn't type. I've since regained the ability to type and plunked in some stories from people in the community.

I love producing news. I produced newspapers and magazines in Vancouver for a number of years and set type in Yaletown and around Vancouver. It's my passion and I trained in college for it. For the last 7 years, I've devoted every available minute, night and day to it, just as a service to the community.

The Voice isn't a big deal. The site only has 500-600 daily visits. Fewer in the summer. I consider it payday when someone thanks me, or pays the website a compliment. I've never charged for ads or sold a photo to news groups in the big city.

So, right now, I'm deciding what to do. I had a semi-trailer run over my legs while out on a bicycle in 1993, so I struggle with that. I drive an old bucket of bolts and its just a matter of time before it leaves me cold, somewhere inconvenient. I've given the community everything I can through The Valley Voice. Only my beautiful lady knows how many sacrifices I've made, scrambling out of bed at 3 A.M. and running out to a fire or a crime is putting it mildly.

Maybe it's time now to pass those reins that I dropped all those years ago on to someone else.


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