Welcome to the UCSF Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, on the 8th Floor of Long Hospital (8L).
We've put together some tips and FAQs (frequently asked questions) to make your stay more predictable and enjoyable. You can also see a patient as they get ready for their video electroencephalogram (EEG).
What is video EEG monitoring?
Video EEG monitoring is a way for us to monitor your seizures using an ongoing video camera to observe your seizure activity and electrodes on your scalp to review your brain waves especially during a seizure.
What about my medications?
Do not change your usual medication routine before you arrive. Prepare and bring a list of the medications you're taking, the doses in milligrams, and what times of day you take them. Or bring your usual medications in the original bottles if possible. This helps our team confirm what you're taking.
The medicine you take will come from our hospital pharmacy and the nurses will give it to you by hand at the right time. Please don't use your medicines from home while you're in the hospital — it's against hospital regulations to do so. However, may resume taking your own as soon as you are discharged. We can't give you medication to take home with you.
UCSF Medical Center is a smoke free hospital. You will not be permitted to smoke throughout the course of your hospital stay. Nicotine patches can be ordered for use during your stay.
What should I bring?
* This letter as you may want to refer to it later.
* A list of all your current medications.
* Enough medications to last for a 24-hour period of time after you are discharged.
* An overnight bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, underwear, shampoo, etc.
* Hospital pajamas can be provided, but you should bring your own button-up pajamas and light clothes if you wish. Please do not bring clothing which will need to be put over your head (like a T-shirt); the electrodes and wires on your head make this impossible.
* You may need to be awake all night during your stay to help produce seizures. Bring something to help you pass the time — DVD's, books, handheld video games, arts and crafts, etc.
* If you want to bring your own DVD player, Playstation, or other equipment, bring a red/white/yellow 3-RCA jack cable; you can plug this into our DVD Player, which will connect it to our in-room TV. Keep your electronic equipment and its power supplies at least 6 feet from our EEG apparatus at all times, to minimize electronic interference with the recording.
What happens first when I arrive to the 8th Floor?
A nurse will show you to your room and help you get settled in and orient you to your room. EEG electrodes will be attached to your scalp by a technician, so be sure to wash your hair. You should avoid braids if possible.
Monitoring on video
Once the testing begins we will be recording video, audio, and brainwaves (EEG) continuously. Our epilepsy doctors, in order to capture and learn more about your seizure type(s), will be review these recordings. We won't eavesdrop on your private conversations but please be aware that there will always be someone watching the video in real time at the nurses' station. This is in case you have a seizure but can't get notify us in time. Use the privacy curtain and the restroom if you need to be off camera for a moment.
The seizure button
Every hospital bed has a "nurse call" button to use to call the nurses for routine things. We will also give you a second button, the "seizure" button. Pressing the seizure button means that you may be about to have a seizure, are having a seizure, or have just had a seizure. The seizure button does two things:
1. It marks our brainwave (EEG) recordings with a special mark that says "Patient Event." When we review the recording, we pay special attention to the area around those marks, searching for any abnormal brain activity.
2. When you press the seizure button, a nurse will come into your room. If you are unconscious or having a convulsion, the nurse will take measures to keep you safe during the seizure. If you are awake, the nurse might ask you what caused you to press the button; or she might ask you to remember some words, move your arms or legs, or other neurological tests. Please cooperate with these tests; if we see that you don't do what the nurse asked you to, we'll assume it's because you couldn't do it at that time.
How do I know when to press the seizure button?
* Every time you feel an aura or warning, press the seizure button.
* Did something happen and you're not sure if it was a seizure? Press the button — this is the time to find out what that funny twitch was.
* Did you wake up and feel tired and sore, like you usually do after your seizure? Press the button. (This helps us, even if it was way after the seizure, because when we go back to search we at least know that the seizure happened before you pressed the button.)
* Not pressing the button can make it difficult for the doctors to find the seizure in the recording.
What if I don't press the button for my seizure?
We have a couple other ways of finding your seizure. There is always someone watching the camera, so if your seizure makes your body shake, there is a good chance we'll see it. Our computer is always analyzing the brainwaves, and it might be able to recognize a seizure.
Can I get up and walk around?
Because we're trying to make you have a seizure by reducing your anticonvulsant medication, keep you awake all night, or use other means to provoke your usual seizures, we encourage you stay within the view of the camera. Plan to spend most of your time in bed or sitting up in a padded chair that's in every room.
For children, there are specific, dedicated hours when patients connected to video EEG can go to the playroom and still be monitored. These hours may change daily and are subject to available staffing. Please ask your nurse about these special hours upon arrival.
May I have visitors?
Yes, we encourage this. One person, a family member or close friend, can plan to stay overnight with you and be present at all times. If this person can recognize your usual seizures, he or she can press the "seizure button," and this can be a great help to us, especially if you don't always know when you've had your seizure. Other visitors can come during normal hospital visiting hours which are between 11am - 8pm.
We are here to help you at all times.
Nothing we do is meant to make you uncomfortable. However, from time to time people do get uncomfortable during their stay. Please talk to you nurse or doctor if you feel restless.
Sometimes we change medication doses — medicines you may have been used to taking for years — very rapidly. This can cause chemical changes in your brain, leading to anxiety, nervousness or even a feeling of depression. If this occurs, please let us know.
Please plan on staying for at least a week. Planning ahead makes things go more smoothly. In particular, if we've reduced your anticonvulsant medicine, we don't think it's safe for you to leave the hospital immediately. Some medicines can be given intravenously, for a quick return to safe med levels and discharge from the hospital a few hours later. With others, though, we feel the safest way is to give two or even three of your usual doses over a 24 hour period, and let you go home only after that time has gone by.
Please call us with any questions.
Our rooms become quite full. It is very important you make every effort to keep this appointment in order to avoid delays of your treatment. If you have questions before your appointment, please contact our Scheduling Coordinator, Roselyn Sigua at 415.353.9851, or our clinical epilepsy nurse, Maritza Lopez at 415.353.2437.