It’s been a little over a year since I had my vagal nerve stimulator added to my fight against my seizures.  A VNS is like a pacemaker for your brain.  It gets programmed to send an electrical pulse to your brain.  There are two ways to control the VNS.  The neurologist programs it to send electrical pulses to the area of your brain where the seizures are generated.  The second way to control the electrical pulse is controlled by you.  You have a high power magnet that you use to help control them.  Even though the VNS is programmed to send a pulse, between 30 seconds to five minutes, you can use the magnet to swipe across the VNS when you feel an aura. The aura can warn you about a seizure.

Things you need to know about a VNS.  The vagal nerve is close to the voice box.  Whenever the pulse is generated your voice changes.  Depending on the person, the voice gets lower or softer, and can also cause vocal nerve paralysis.  It also can cause shortness of breath and/ or coughing.  The magnet you carry to use with the VNS can interfere with some electrical equipment.  Hearing aids and transmitter radios between 30kHz to 100kHz may be affected.  The magnet can damage credit cards, certain TVs, and computer disks.  To not cause damage, keep the electrical equipment 10 inches away from the magnet.

One thing I never thought about was a MRI.  Magnetic resonance imaging uses strong electrical pulses.  Being an electrical device, those are not allowed in the exam room.  The electrodes in the VNS can heat up!  Heat up, I don’t think so!  An x-ray and/or CT exams are the alternative.

Important information for people who have a VNS, and for epilepsy awareness.