Neurology & Neurosurgery Archive
June 26th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
In her early 20s, Erin Ayub has big plans. As a college student in El Paso, Texas, she is also a musician and aspiring writer. She had to put her plans on hold for a bit while in a medically induced coma at Mayo Clinic in Arizona due to a rare illness — anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.
Now on the road to recovery, Erin and her mom share her story in this video.
June 4th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
In the summer of 2013, Amy Supergan took a trip to Italy. That may not sound extraordinary, but there was a time when being able to travel and enjoy a vacation with her family seemed like an impossible goal.
Amy faces a range of challenging medical problems, but at the top of that list is pain so debilitating she was forced to quit her career and give up an active lifestyle. But through the care she has received at Mayo Clinic and her participation in an innovative clinical research trial, Amy has found a renewed ability to manage her pain, and enjoy friends and family when she is able.
"Although I may never ski again or be back at work, with the help of all of my doctors at Mayo, I am now able to live independently with some assistance," she says. "I have found happiness in being more relaxed and appreciating some of the smaller things in life. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life as I did before." Read the rest of this entry »
May 16th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
“His prognosis was grim,” neurosurgeon Rabih Tawk, M.D., recalls. “We used every technology available to help him.”
Despite complications and issues, which required him to be induced into a medical coma, Bretz made an almost full recovery.
“I realize I was lucky and recovered pretty well. A lot of other people who have this type of stroke do not,” says Bretz, who attributes his success to the large team at Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.
May 9th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
Written by Lesia Mooney, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Mayo Clinic's Advanced Primary Stroke Center in Florida.
That's the number of people annually in the United States who have a stroke.
That's the number of Americans who die each year due to stroke.
That’s the cost of stroke annually, which includes the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work related to stroke.
The numbers are staggering, at least according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Stroke is a major health care issue, but yet I'm still surprised by the lack of awareness surrounding stroke.
There are many misconceptions about stroke, including that it’s an older person’s issue. In reality, stroke can happen to anyone, including children. I've seen patients as young as 18 and as old as 103.
May 2nd, 2014 · Leave a Comment
Many people experience a warning prior to a stroke. But often it goes unnoticed, especially when you’re young and otherwise healthy, like Lorena Rivera, 44.
A nurse educator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rivera was the picture of good health. She didn’t drink or smoke, had good blood pressure, and ate a healthful diet. She was also physically active. So when the mom of three experienced headaches and numbing in one arm, she wasn’t too concerned. However, when she temporarily lost vision while doing errands one day, she became more frightened.
Rivera, it turns out, had been experiencing a TIA – a transient ischemic attack – which produces similar symptoms as a stroke but usually lasts only a few minutes and causes no permanent damage. Often called a mini stroke, a TIA is a warning. About 1 in 3 people who have a transient ischemic attack eventually has a stroke, with about half occurring within a year after the first episode. Read the rest of this entry »
April 30th, 2014 · 1 Comment
A few years ago, Jessica Veach’s life was going according to plan. She’d started her career as an elementary school teacher — a dream she'd had since she was 8 years old — and was settling into married life with her husband, Colin. Jessica was also successfully managing epilepsy, which she had been diagnosed with during her freshman year at Vanderbilt University.
But in 2010, something changed.
“After 10 years of having my seizures under control with medication, they came back with a vengeance,” says Jessica, who lives in Seattle. What had been occasional simple partial seizures were now frequent complex partial seizures. Soon, Jessica was forced to take a medical leave from teaching. She had to give up driving and many of the activities she loved. And the unpredictability of her seizures, as well as the exhaustion that set in after a seizure, limited the time she was able to spend with friends.
"Giving up my independence was very difficult," she says. "I was limited to places within walking distance, or I had to rely on friends for rides."
Even with the precautions she took, Jessica faced risks. One day while Colin was at work, she fell down a flight of stairs during a seizure. “I started to be scared to do anything on my own, because I never knew when a seizure might happen,” she says. “I decided it was time to explore all of my treatment options.” Read the rest of this entry »
January 30th, 2014 · Leave a Comment
By Mayo Clinic
In one brief statement, Barbara Smith can sum up the impact that the staff in the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona had on her and her husband as they faced several difficult and frightening medical problems: "They are our life-changing heroes."
For 40 years, seizures were just part of life for Barbara. Dealing with them since she was a teen, she always assumed they were caused by epilepsy. But in 2007, the seizures became more frequent and more severe. At the same time, Barbara began having other problems, too. She developed a stutter and often had headaches. Walking became more difficult, and she had unexplained weight loss.
Barbara went to several neurologists. No one could provide her with answers. In desperation on a Friday evening, Barbara's husband, Jim, called Mayo Clinic to see if they could get an appointment. "That phone call changed my life," says Barbara.
Within a week, the couple arrived at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, where Barbara underwent two weeks of evaluation, including five days of observation in the hospital's epilepsy monitoring unit. Part of that evaluation involved using unique imaging technology known as SISCOM, or subtraction ictal SPECT coregistered to MRI. Pioneered at Mayo Clinic, SISCOM is particularly useful in pinpointing areas of the brain where seizures occur. Read the rest of this entry »
December 20th, 2013 · Leave a Comment
By Mayo Clinic
My name is Jill Staloch, and I had my first seizure when I was a freshman in college. Epilepsy never impacted my life, besides having to take medications and having a yearly appointment with my doctor. It wasn’t until 2010 that my life changed because of seizures. I had been seizure free for at least 10 years, but during my pregnancy, I started to have multiple seizures weekly.
During this time, I was worried about my baby’s health, I could no longer drive or be left alone, I was having difficulties doing tasks at work, and I eventually had to be on bed rest. Even after delivering a healthy baby girl, I continued to have seizures. I still was unable to drive and couldn’t be alone with my daughter, and my family worried about me. Epilepsy had taken control of my life. My husband researched different ways we could get help. He said we needed to go to the Mayo. I was resistant but knew something different had to be done. Read the rest of this entry »
November 9th, 2013 · Leave a Comment
By Mayo Clinic
For the past eight years, Nicole Dehn, 30, has had pangs of sadness whenever she passes a small grove of trees on the road near her Jacksonville, Fla., home. The trees are a constant reminder of the day epilepsy took her freedom.
Nov. 14 2005. It’s the day Dehn had a seizure while driving. Her car came to rest in the median atop the shrubbery.
“The trees are slanted and one is totally flat. Riding by it… it’s like a slap in the face every time,” says Dehn, who, though unharmed, lost her driving privileges.
The seizures began when she was 6 months old. They got progressively worse. Typically, medication can control seizures in most people with epilepsy. But for about 30 percent of patients, they aren't effective or are intolerable. Over the years Dehn tried various drugs and treatments, even having a device implanted in her brain in an attempt to control the seizures. Nothing seemed to work.
July 23rd, 2013 · 2 Comments
By Mayo Clinic
My name is Rachel Skaug, formerly Rachel Kaalberg, and I used to have epileptic seizures as a child. My seizures started at four months old, which was in 1988, and lasted until I was 10 years old, in 1998.
I am from Madison, Wis. Much of my testing happened at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. I had many tests such as blood tests, EEGs, PET scans and MRIs. I tried many medications, such as tegretol, valprocic acid, mysoline and phenobarbital, to control my seizures. I also tried the Ketogenic Diet (a diet high in fat, low in protein and low in carbohydrates). The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. It is sometimes used to help control seizures under strict medical supervision.
Medication and diet changes did not seem to work for me 100 percent. Therefore, as a last resort, I had to have surgery — I had five surgeries on the following dates: July 30, 1997; August 2, 1997; October 8, 1997; and June 8 and 10, 1998. The surgeries took place at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.
The last surgery I had was the miracle that helped stop my seizures, and I was taken off all medications a year after my surgery. The doctors that I remember most are Dr. Zupanc and my surgeon Dr. Raffel. During the last surgery, they took a 50-cent-sized piece of my right temporal lobe out, which seemed to stop my seizures. Today I have been seizure free since June 1998 and still going strong.
After my surgeries, the doctors diagnosed me with tuberous sclerosis (a genetic disease that causes benign tumors to form in many different organs -- primarily in the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin and lungs). I do have a few issues with comprehension, such as remembering what I read, but I work hard to remember things in picture format to understand what I read.
My parents stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester, Minnesota, during my hospital stays, and my younger brother stayed with numerous relatives during all of my hospital stays throughout the years.
I am now a healthy adult with a family and no medical issues. I continue to do checkups for lesions on my brain and in my kidneys about every two years. My experience at the Mayo Clinic was tremendous, and all the doctors and nurses that worked with me were great in helping me beat epilepsy. I am thankful and grateful for all the people involved that helped me try anything and everything to overcome my seizures.