Monday, May 31, 2021

Hail Mary

Robert will be getting the Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) at the end of June. 

It feels like a full circle moment since at the time we started caring for him, he actually had a Deep Brain Stimulator already implanted. The DBS wasn’t yet approved by the FDA but he was in a study through the UCSF Epilepsy Center. Unfortunately, he developed an infection in the area where the stimulator part is implanted in the chest and it had to be removed. His infection was so severe that they also needed to do a separate surgery to remove the leads that are implanted in the brain and he couldn’t continue to participate in the study.  

It was disappointing but at least he survived the infection. (Robert has cheated death more times than I can even count.) 

Year after the device was removed I found out that Robert was in the part of the study with an active DBS and that it had helped reduce his seizures. The DBS was eventually approved by the FDA for treatment of severe epilepsy so his epileptologist suggested it as something to consider for Robert. 

We talked to the surgeon in 2018 and, because it was such a hectic year with my husband’s health issues (not to mention me having a stroke that year!), I put the DBS on hold.  

Robert continued to decline: he had frequent clusters of seizures, reactions to medications, hyper-ammonia from medications, worsening of mobility, functioning and memory (a result of a combination of seizures, medications and his neurodegenerative process). 

The doctors tried new medications; various doses of medications; weekly physical therapy. 

Richard and I tried a home caregiver (fantastic but she can’t help with Robert’s worsening physical mobility); we adjusted how we care for Robert (forget about daily baths or even street clothes); bought a new bath chair and a bedside commode. We learned tricks from the physical therapists on how to move him without hurting ourselves. We learned from the hospital nurses how to change him in bed when he was having a really bad day. We have a script for a hoyer lift. 

The doctors adjusted to the decline. We adjusted to the decline. Robert continued to say he was doing “super, amazing, excellent and great” and didn’t even seem to notice a decline. (Only rarely does he get frustrated with his inability to stand or transfer.)

Robert’s support team has a deep bench (as they say in football) and we made as many adjustments as we could but, at this point, we need a Hail Mary. 

I’m a huge fan of college football so I know a Hail Mary can work and it’s so exciting when it does. But that period when the ball leaves the quarterback’s hand and is sailing through the air and you don’t know if it’s going to be caught – that’s when you hold your breath and pray. 

Robert has prayed his entire life for his seizures to go away. 

Moving forward with the DBS is probably the last chance we will have to give him that. 

I personally don’t think it will completely take away his seizures but I do hope this device will give him better seizure control. My hope is that it will allow us to reduce Robert’s medications which would then help with his mental fogginess and, maybe - just maybe - even improve his mobility. 

That’s my hope. Maybe it’s more of a wish. It is probably as likely to happen as Robert’s prayers for zero seizures but I need to give him this chance. 

I need to try the Hail Mary.  

We will worry later about what comes next if this doesn’t work. 

For now, we have one more chance for a win. 

Time to hold our breath and pray. 

1 comment:

KayRob said...

You are definitely in our thoughts and prayers. We are another family with an adult living at home with severe epilepsy. LGS. May God bless you and keep you strong.