Epilepsy: When Brain Surgery is the Best Option
"My husband and I had forgotten who he was," says Nancy Goodman, of Waldorf, about her son, Robert. At 25, Robert Goodman Jr. started having epileptic seizures and, as his condition worsened, his "real" personality slowly started to fade away.
A college graduate, Robert stopped driving, became afraid to do things on his own and was living at his parents' home because of the risk that he could hurt himself if he had a seizure doing everyday activities. "Things got progressively worse," remembers Robert. "I was having two or three seizures a day and even my friends were becoming more concerned."
Robert's seizures were characterized by a vacant look in his eyes. "He sort of checked out," recalls Nancy. Robert didn't know how sick he was because he didn't remember having the seizures. One day, Nancy told Robert, "This is serious. Something needs to be done."
A Ray of Hope
That's when the Goodmans decided to consult with epileptologist Pavel Klein, MD. An epileptologist is a neurologist who specializes in treating epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by repeated seizures.
The benefits of seeing an epileptologist are numerous. Through Holy Cross Hospital, Dr. Klein has multidisciplinary support including inpatient and outpatients studies and testing.
In addition, patients have the opportunity to try new treatment options and participate in clinical trials of medications not yet available to the general public. This may be particularly important for patients whose seizures have not responded to existing medications.
Initially, Dr. Klein adjusted Robert's medications so that Robert was less anxious and less depressed. The seizures continued, but Robert was more alert. Next, Dr. Klein introduced the possibility of surgery.
He also started a series of tests to pinpoint the exact location the seizures were occurring in Robert's brain.
When all the tests were complete, Dr. Klein introduced Robert and his family to James Leiphart, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon who specializes in epilepsy surgery. "All of Robert's seizures originated from his right temporal lobe," explains Dr. Leiphart. "Simply stated, it meant Robert was an ideal candidate for right temporal lobectomy."
Robert underwent brain surgery with Dr. Leiphart in October 2006 at age 29. "My scar has healed, my hair has grown back and I have not had a seizure since the surgery," Robert says.
"Dr. Klein and Dr. Leiphart are miracle workers," Nancy says. "They have given my son his life back. My Robert is back!"