So what was this paralysis I witnessed?

My father-in-law’s brother, call him Uncle Arrr*, was visiting us once when he had a paralysis attack. Which, of course, freaked us out. Some of us, anyway. Since then, neither he nor dad-in-law will speak of it.

The scene happened something like this: Wife and I came home, and Uncle Arrr was taking a nap in the living room with the lights off. Except he wasn’t napping. After a good half hour of tip-toeing past the living room, one of us noticed that his eyes were wide open. Okay, so he’s deep in thought, leave him be for a couple of minutes. (BIG MISTAKE - DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE - IS HE DEAD? - BIG MISTAKE) When he didn’t move even after that, wife and I start worrying about his corporeal condition.

We call out “Uncle Arrr?” No answer. Adrenalin shocks its way through my body.

I run up to the chair he’s lying in, stand beside it and pat his hand. “Uncle Arrr, are you ok?” No answer. He’s staring staight ahead. I can feel warmth in his hand, and movement. At least we know he’s alive.

I notice his other hand is raised about an inch off the arm of the chair and contorted. It’s shaking, but very slightly.

I hold his near hand and ask him again, “are you okay?” Still no answer, and I’m this close to freaking out. I turn and tell my wife, who’s starting to see the scope of the situation, to call 911.

She says “no, he’s done this before, and he’ll snap out of it.” I am incredulous. I ask her what this is, and she doesn’t know, just that it happens from time to time and it goes away.

I look back at Uncle Arrr. He’s stiff as a board. He tries to speak, but it is little more than a drawn-out “uurrrrrk”, very faint, but clearly an effort to force even that word out.

I’m about to go call 911 myself when dad-in-law comes home, shoos us out of the living room, and tells us it’s ok.

Uncle Arrr is up and about like nothing’s happened in about an hour.

No one can tell me what happened, and the dad-in-law and the uncle refuse to acknowlege that anything happened.

To this day, I know I should’ve called 911, even if everyone else is comfortable with the situation. After a long talk with my wife, about Arrr’s age and the risk of heart trouble and so on, she now agrees with me. At least, by calling 911 I could force the communication issue. I hate being surrounded by people with conditions that I don’t know how to handle in an emergency.

But what the hell? What causes a man in his 60s to lock up like this? How could these siezures not be risky for a man his age?

I’m guessing some form of epilepsy. I’ve seen a few epileptic siezures. So far, it’s never been as dramatic as in the movies (and I know not to put anything in the mouth), but so far it’s always been more energetic than this.

  • Okay, his first name starts with R. I like the nickname, and will address him using it next time I see him.

Sounds like an absence seizure to me.

I think Hirundo’s right. But this:

IANAD, but if he can only speak (or cough) with the greatest difficulty, it really doesn’t seem that far a step to not speaking or coughing, which is a sign of choking, which is seriously bad.

I really, really think it’s a good idea to get Uncle Arrr to a doctor, as soon as possible. The Wiki link says petit mal / absence seizures are treatable with a number of drugs.