Thursday 24th July 2014,
The Liz Army

From beginning to end: this was my EEG experience

Liz February 2, 2011 In Treatment 1 Comment
10 p.m. to Midnight: Try not to fall asleep at my usual bedtime.
Midnight to 4 a.m.: Sleep.
4 to 6:45 a.m.: Try to stay awake!
6:45 to 8 a.m.: Get the EEG.
At the EEG/sleep lab a technician asked me a series of questions.
What medications do you take? At what time did you wake up? Are you left or right handed?
(I said I’m both handed, but didn’t ask why that was important. Dang! I like to know these things.)

She took out a tape measure and measured the widest part of my head. Then she made markings all over my scalp and forehead with a red marker. The markings were where she would stick the electrode-thing-ys.

After that I laid down and she used cotton balls to apply sticky material to my head. The electrodes were able to stick to my head with the sticky material and the cotton balls were put on top to make everything stay in place. The electrodes on my forehead were held down with paper tape. From what I understand, a heartbeat can interfere with the reading of brain waves, so two electrodes were placed on my upper-chest area to monitor my heart. These electrodes will synch your heart with readings of the brain and rule out weirdness that could have been picked up from the heart. Some patients find out they have abnormal heart conditions from EEGs! (Trigger “The More You Know” music here.)

The technician dimmed the lights, closed the door, and went into another room to observe me with a fancy night vision camera. She talked to me through a speaker in the room.

Here is what happened during the test:

  • First I breathed normally.
  • Then I had to open my eyes. Once a strobe light activated I had to close my eyes again–but I could still see the flashing light through my eyelids–because it was right over my face! The strobe would flash for about 30 seconds, then stop and I’d have to open my eyes until it started again. This went on for about 5 minutes.
  • After that I had to hyperventilate for a few minutes. This sucked more than the strobe light. It made me feel very anxious.
  • Next I had to keep hyperventilating but at a slower pace.
  • After 5 minutes of breathing all crazy-like I was asked to slow my breathing and fall sleep for the rest of the time. That’s a hard task after getting your heart rate up.
When it was time to sleep I was like, “Aw yeah, I am so tired. This is going to be way easy.” But then I realized I had to pee. I kept trying to relax but all I could think about was going to the bathroom. But there was no way I could say, “Um, excuse me. Can you unhook all 24 electrodes real fast and just let me use the restroom?”
I think I fell asleep for a tiny bit. The only way I can confirm this (in my head) is because I remember having a short dream. Then I remember waking up, holding it in, drifting off, waking up, having bathroom anxiety, drifting off, etc. On and on this went until I could hear the technician rustling around in the other room.
When she came in I asked if she could take my picture (see image above). I said, “Sorry I probably didn’t sleep, I had to go to the bathroom the whole time.” She said, “Actually, you did fall asleep.” Good to know.
I asked if she could see anything significant in the EEG but she said she couldn’t tell me because that would be “practicing medicine” and she is not a doctor.
After removing all the electrodes I rushed to the restroom.
One more thing: Super Awesome Nurse asked me to stop driving until after the EEG and my MRI this week–just to be on the safe side (especially since I’ve had to pull over three times in the past week due to weird vision/sensation issues). I want to thank my friend Stephen who picked me up from the hospital at 8:15 this morning to drive me home. Friends are amazing.
I was going to sleep from 9 until noon and then go to work, but I got an e-mail from my cool co-workers saying I should take the day off and rest. Sometimes I completely forget that I owe it to myself to relax and rest when I need to. Brett tells me that all the time and I don’t hear it anymore when it comes from him. When I hear it from other people it becomes more real. That is the sad truth.

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the update. Nice to read a new post with my cup of green tea in the morning.

    The left/right hand thingy: I guess you know this, but right handed ppls brains often function quite differently from those who are left handed. For me for example it is a real bummer that I am right handed, as my tumor is (was) on the left side. This means that it is very likely to be veeery close to the language center among other important things. If I was left handed, it could be that the most important stuff was placed in the right hemisphere. Yeah, so I guess it's a standard question/premise to read the EEG results. ie- interpret electrical signals in the brain in relation to physical/mental symptoms.

    phu, long comment- Wishing you a good day,

    I.