Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton (file photo.) Claude Albert / CTMirror.org
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton (File photo.) Claude Albert / CTMirror.org

Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Boughton said Friday his seizure at a campaign event the previous night was caused by severe dehydration and, most likely, his failure to take a precautionary anti-seizure medication prescribed after surgery last summer to remove a lemon-sized cyst from his brain.

In a telephone interview, the 54-year-old mayor of Danbury said he and his doctors are confident he can avoid another seizure by taking his medication and altering a diet that he conceded was heavy on soda and junk food. He planned to attend a St. Patrick’s Day event Saturday and resume campaigning Monday.

“I don’t think a seizure is a disqualifying ground for governor,” Boughton said. “I can manage it.”

Boughton’s campaign initially downplayed the incident, circulating a statement from the UConn Health Center stating he was treated for dehydration and released Friday. It made no mention of a seizure, and his campaign manager, Marc Dillon, said in an interview before Boughton spoke that he was under the impression Boughton didn’t have one.

After an afternoon of resting at home, Boughton confirmed what witnesses said they saw the previous night — his collapse at a crowded forum in Avon was, indeed, a seizure.

“There was a seizure. The dehydration triggered the seizure,” Boughton said. “It was severe, and it was scary. But it was the combination of a very hot room and the fact I drink soda, diet soda, instead of drinking water.”

Boughton said his blood work indicated a level of dehydration that could have triggered a seizure without his medical history of brain surgery, as was the case recently with music star Tim McGraw. Boughton said he would authorize his neurosurgeon and other doctors to provide further details, as necessary.

Medical issues during campaigns can quickly become crises if not addressed. Hillary Clinton’s initial reluctance to confirm she had pneumonia when seen needing assistance to get into her car after a 9-11 memorial event sparked a storm of rumors about her health.

The mayor’s dramatic collapse near the end of the meet-and-greet event in Avon — and the aid immediately rendered by one of his rivals, Dr. Prasad Srinivasan, an allergist who also is a state representative from Glastonbury — generated instant headlines and references to his needing CPR.

The campaign’s initial statement Thursday night shared only that Boughton “fell ill at an event in Avon this evening. He is currently resting comfortably at UCONN Health Center in Farmington.”

Boughton said his doctors told him they doubted he had been rendered CPR, as vividly described by some witnesses, including Srinivasan and another candidate, Dave Walker. CPR is not recommended protocol for seizures, and his body showed no signs of bruising or other injuries common after emergency chest compressions, he said.

Srinivasan did not return a call for comment Friday evening, but he was adamant Thursday in his description of Boughton’s dire condition after his seizure, saying, “His face was blue, bluer than blue.”

Whatever aid was rendered, Boughton said, he planned to call Srinivasan to offer his thanks. Srinivasan was one of three physicians and a nurse to help Boughton at the scene. He was taken by ambulance to the UConn Health Center in Farmington and was released Friday morning.

Boughton said the seizure was the first since his surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He was discharged with a prescription for Keppra, an anti-seizure drug he is supposed to take twice daily. Pharmaceutical literature describes Keppra as having no serious side effects for most patients, with reports of it causing fatigue for the first few weeks of taking it.

“You just have to remember taking it, that’s all,” Boughton said. “I don’t remember taking it Thursday night. Obviously, I must not have.”

Boughton said his seizure came after seven days of hard campaigning. He said the seizure, and the lecture UConn doctors delivered to him, were a wake-up call.

“I need to pay attention. It’s easy not to pay attention. I’m not 18 any more,”  Boughton said. “I’m going to live a different lifestyle. People around me know I’m a fast-food junkie. Those days are over. I have to stay fully hydrated, follow doctors’ orders. And I’ll be fine.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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