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Cluster headaches? Seizures? Extreme head pain and loss of consciousnes...
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Cluster headaches? Seizures? Extreme head pain and loss of consciousness..

My girlfriend and I have been together for nearly 3 months now, and since she lives around 2 hours from me, we Skype often. A while ago, say a couple of months, she began to have severe headaches and during them, she would become very confused, and said she found it "hard to think". She couldn't count numbers or remember the day or what time it was, only my name. Usually I would have to talk her to sleep, since we normally Skyped late at night to early in the morning, around 12 am to 5 am, with the episodes often occurring around 2 or 3, but there never was any specific time. They didn't always happen, but many times they did.

She continues to have these episodes, however they've changed somewhat: she still has severe, terrible head pain, only on one side of her head seemingly behind or slightly above her eye, however now, she passes out. She'll awake in about a minute, and will be in a very strange state, paralyzed and unable to move in some cases (she'll only look around the room with her eyes, I ask her to blink if she understands me but she doesn't), at which point the severe head pain will commence again and she'll pass out once more, and will wake up in a different state: sometimes she seems to be herself, but unable to remember anything; other times, she is playful in a way like a child, however she can never talk and is either happy when I play with her, or crying and sad if I don't.

Now, there is something else: on two occasions, she has forgotten who I am. On one occasion over Skype, she forgot who I was, and the year: my girlfriend is 17, and she 'returned' in a way to her 15 year-old self. It was horrifying to see her unable to remember me, however eventually she went to sleep and woke up hyperventilating, at which point she called me and apologized for forgetting: she remembered the ordeal, which is strange as she never normally does.

The second time happened when she was with me: she had passed out again during the pain, and when she awoke, she was frightened by me and ran into the corner; I got the inclination to ask her how old she was to see if she was 'conscious': she held up her hand with 5 fingers. From there I had a conversation with her as a 5 year old; she talked of going to school, her only friend, and that her head 'felt like it was getting stung by a bee'. This may sound ridiculous but I assure you this happened.

One more thing: on both occasions she forgot me, the ages she regressed to (15 and 5), both were a year before a psychologically traumatic event occurred. These events were extremely traumatic and because I respect her privacy I do not wish to go into details, however rest assured they are emotionally scarring.

My question is whether this may be a manifestation of psychological trauma or a physical anomaly. Her legal guardians have refused to take her to a doctor because they don't believe her when she tells them what happens. She is going to continue to try and persuade them to take her as I can no longer sit by and watch these episodes happen.

She has the following symptoms:
-Extreme head pain on one side, slightly above or behind the eye
-Loss of consciousness
-Amnesia
-Severe hand tremors
-Aphasia
-Occasionally deaf (she sometimes awakes from passing out unable to hear)
-Confusion and disorientation

Those are what I can remember for now.. I apologize for my writing as I'm writing this in a hurry because an episode just occurred an hour or so ago, and I'm very worried because normally the episodes only last around 45 minutes or an hour, however this has gone on for over 3 hours, and she is currently at her grandparents and I have no contact. I appreciate all replies and I really hope a physician or anyone with any medical knowledge can help us with this, it's very scary and we don't know what to do. Even if you are unsure, please, your input will be extremely appreciated.

Thank you
8 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow!  What you describe sounds serious and frightening.  

The two possibilities that come to mind as I read your post are sleep disorder and seizures.  Some people with seizure disorders only have them during the night.  This could explain why her legal guardians may not believe she has a problem.  They haven't seen it.  Same issue with the sleep disorder.  Although they may see behavioral problems during the day that result from these episodes.

The first priority is that she needs to be sleeping 8-10 hours per night in order for her teenaged brain to be rested and well functioning.  Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to very serious health problems, even hallucinations and psychotic behavior in extreme examples. You need to move up your conversations and agree to hang up no later than 10pm. Neither of you can function well, let alone learn and retain anything if you are up most of the night. If she doesn't think this matters, then refuse to participate in the midnight calls, not because you are telling her what to do, but because you care about her and getting enough sleep is critically important for both of you.

Before ending the late calls, though, you might discuss the idea with her of recording your conversations on Skype until you have a representative "episode" that she can show her guardians. An alternative is to ask for their phone number so you can call them and alert them the next time it happens.  Then they can see her in person. She really needs to have a sleep study done to see what is going on in her brain.  Seizures can cause brain damage, and sleep disorders can cause behavioral or neurological problems.

Sleep and seizure disorders can be serious, and if she has either one, there are treatments available.

I hope she gets help soon!
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2136621_tn?1355125587
She needs urgent medical attention and a MRI SCAN...(CT SCAN) as soon as possible...Could be a tumor
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1756321_tn?1377771734
"Delirium involves a quick change between mental states (for example, from lethargy to agitation and back to lethargy).

Symptoms include:
Changes in alertness (usually more alert in the morning, less alert at night)
Changes in feeling (sensation) and perception
Changes in level of consciousness or awareness
Changes in movement (for example, may be slow moving or hyperactive)
Changes in sleep patterns, drowsiness
Confusion (disorientation) about time or place
Decrease in short-term memory and recall
Unable to remember events since delirium began (anterograde amnesia)
Unable to remember events before delirium (retrograde amnesia)
Disrupted or wandering attention
Inability to think or behave with purpose
Problems concentrating
Disorganized thinking
Speech that doesn't make sense (incoherent)
Inability to stop speech patterns or behaviors
Emotional or personality changes
Anger
Agitation
Anxiety
Apathy
Depression
Euphoria
Irritability
Incontinence
Movements triggered by changes in the nervous system (psychomotor restlessness)"

Excerpt from The New York Times - "Delerium"

***

"Delirium is a syndrome, or a symptom complex, rather than a disease; the pathophysiology of delirium depends largely on the etiology of the syndrome. The syndrome can be attributed to numerous causes including, but not limited to, the following.

Pulmonary disease (eg, hypoxia)

Other abnormal systemic metabolic conditions such as hepatic or renal dysfunction

Endocrine disorders such as thyroid or adrenal hypofunction or hyperfunction

Ingestion of toxins or side effects of single or multiple interacting medications or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs

Electrolyte imbalances, especially abnormalities in sodium, BUN, creatinine, glucose, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus

Nutritional deficiencies such as thiamine, cobalamin, or niacin

Sepsis or systemic infections including simple urinary tract infections, and CNS infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, including those related to infection with HIV, herpes simplex, and West Nile virus

Seizures or postictal states

Inflammatory or autoimmune conditions such as paraneoplastic disorders, Hashimoto encephalopathy, and vasculitis

Acute structural lesions such as cerebral infarctions or hemorrhages."

Excerpt from Medscape - "Confusional States and Acute Memory Disorders"
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2143641_tn?1396681743
there's no particular reason to believe it's a tumor or something that requires urgent medical attention.

Acute sinusitis can give headache around and behind the eye and affects the ears. it can explain most of the symptoms.

not sure about memory loss and aphasia, they can still be due to an infection/inflammation. they should be tested by a Neurologist.

the fact that she remembers not remembering doesn't sound too bad..

you're using some medical terms that should be verified by a doctor, loss of consciousness, aphasia, woke up hyperventilating?

you should avoid using medical terms and give a better description of what was going on.

did she do blood works, was there anything out of range?

did she try Ibuprofen to relieve the pain and what was the outcome?

did she have any other symptoms whatsoever? nasal drip, watery stool, cough, bladder symptoms?
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks

We haven't been Skypeing for last couple of weeks since she's staying with relatives and we see each other more often. We usually sleep at around 11 pm. The last few days she said it hasn't happened, however I noticed the latest episode started occurring in her sleep, as I noticed her hand was twitching. I believe she might be having these episodes at night and she simply doesn't remember them.

There is one other thing I wish to add that I forgot to mention: she loved to play Sudoku puzzles, but some weeks ago, she told me she forgot how to play it. She said she didn't know she had forgotten until she sat down and tried to play, and just couldn't remember.

She tells me she's always had a bad memory, but that frightens me a lot..
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Avatar_n_tn
I agree she needs medical attention and believe me we're doing everything we can. Her legal guardians are extremely selfish and stubborn.
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Avatar_n_tn
I don't think it's acute sinusitis as she has no other physical symptoms, and this has been occurring for around two months. I've thought it might be complex partial seizures, but honestly I'm not a doctor so I don't know about that, it just seems to be something that fits and this is something very unusual..

She's taken acetaminophen and aspirin to relieve the pain before while it's happening sometimes, and their analgesic effects are pretty much nonexistent.

I apologize if my use of medical jargon clouded what was happening, I thought it might be more helpful. Here's a basic description of what happens:

She either becomes very tired, or her head immediately begins to hurt, with the pain only on one side of her head; it's extreme and severe. She then clenches her hands very tightly and curls into a sort of fetal position, and after some seconds, she passes out. She'll then awake a minute or so later and she's unable to speak or communicate with me, she only moves her eyes around (sometimes she doesn't even move her eyes). I've tried to communicate with her but she can't seem to respond. I've done this through sign language and Morse code (she knows both and has used them before to communicate with me when she can't speak during the episodes but she's 'conscious'). Her head will start to hurt again and she'll clench her hands and curl up just as she did before, and pass out again. She wakes up again in some sort of state, whether it be she's forgotten who I am and thinks she's younger than she really is, or she's herself and she doesn't realize she's having an episode, or she's playful like a child but she still can't speak. Last night for example she awoke and stared at me; I noticed that any time something came in front of my face, like my hand, she would angrily slap it away. She stayed this way until the pain started and she passed out again. Eventually, she'll awake and be back to normal, and the episode will be over. These episodes normally last around 45 minutes to an hour but last night it went on for much longer than usual.

I'm sorry if it's still not very clear.. it's very difficult to explain because it varies what kind of states she goes into during the episodes. I appreciate any input.
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2143641_tn?1396681743
Paracetamol and Aspirin are best not to be taken together.

she shouldn't take Aspirin at all , Paracetamol should be safer. Aspirin is anticoagulant.

strange that Paracetamol didn't help, usually 600mg can heal a headache within an hour.

any ways neither I am a Doctor, she could see a Neurologist or Sleep specialist.
two months is not such a long time though she could just wait it out for another couple of months... careful with Doctors they can always come up with some imaginary disease and related treatment or if they won't find anything stuff her up with psychotropic drugs.


some of her symptoms made me think of Narcolepsy.

what you refer as passing out then talking moving in her sleep looks like  Hypnagogia, the person can become aggressive or hallucinate.

still all this doesn't explain the headache.  
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