Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Deep Brain Stimulator for Epilepsy: Take 2!

One of the questions asked about Robert getting the Deep Brain Stimulator was: what do we hope to get from it? 

While many may think the obvious answer is to reduce seizures the more complete answer is a bit more complicated. 

At this point in Robert’s life, the anti-seizure medications are what are causing so many problems. High ammonia levels (from Depakote) leading to reduced mobility and functionality and increased confusion. Vimpat literally making him lose his balance and his ability to walk (putting Robert on a very low dose has helped with seizures but any increase will negatively affect his mobility). 

Robert is on five different seizure medications along with a bunch of other meds to counter-act side-effects of those medications. He’s on so many a doctor seeing Robert in the hospital questioned him being on so many and said he’s never seen a patient on that many anti-seizure medications. The doctor clearly needs to spend more time in the neurology unit. 

(He tried to make changes to Robert’s medication regimen but anyone who knows me knows that didn’t happen.)

Our hope is that this DBS will control Robert’s seizures so we can reduce his medications and he can maybe even regain some of his functionality and mobility. 

That’s not asking too much, right? 

Robert went through the two surgeries and we were able to move up the appointment to get the DBS activated. (Thank goodness the neurologist was on standby for jury duty and could squeeze us in!) 

Time to activate this baby! 

At the appointment, Robert and I patiently awaited the neurologist. I reviewed my questions I had written down and Robert cracked jokes. 

I thought about how fascinating this device is, and, really, nothing short of a medical miracle. Leads go into the brain, hook up to a battery in the chest and it can be controlled with a phone and a hand-held programmer device that goes over the implanted battery to activate it. 

Robert has been very lucky with the quality of his epileptologists even though he’s had several of them. His current neurologist (Dr. K) is kind, smart and takes his time to explain everything. He knows we’re a team and he is as hopeful about this working for Robert as we are. 

Another neurologist came into the room with Dr. K and she introduced herself as a fellow. She was learning about the DBS which I didn’t mind at all. They are part of an award-winning teaching hospital and I am thrilled to have these talented doctors and students as part of Robert’s care team. 

Dr. K explained the DBS has three settings and delivers a constant electrical current. It starts out on setting A which delivers a low electrical current, then after a month (if it’s not yet controlling the seizures), the patient (or caregiver) can move it to setting B which delivers a little more of an electrical pulse. Setting C is the highest setting and that is where most patients end up but it takes three or four months to get there after the initial activation. 

Dr. K activated the device, showing me the different settings and explaining some side-effects to watch for (depression or tingling on one side of the body). He explained how to control the device at home and said I could increase it to setting B after one month if Robert seemed to be tolerating it okay. 

He said another MRI may be needed to be sure the electrodes are still placed correctly but he didn’t think that was necessary just yet. 

It seemed simple enough to activate and control. It’s basically an app on a phone so I was comfortable with it once I figured out how to open the app and he took me through the steps to control it. 

How will we know it is working? If Robert has fewer seizures, it is working! Simple as that. Robert’s seizures come in clusters every two to three weeks. If the clusters don’t come, it’s working. If his seizures come as frequently as usual, we move to setting B. We left the office feeling very hopeful. 

This is going to work! I just know it. 

The next day Robert had a seizure cluster. I brushed it off since he was “due” (his seizures are pretty regular so I didn’t find it unusual that he had any). 

The day after he didn’t have any. Phew! 

The day after that, he had another cluster. Then another the next day.  

He continued to have seizures almost daily for six days after the DBS was activated. 

This was not a side-effect anyone expected. 

I was in contact with Dr. K’s office and was told on the sixth day to turn it off. 

It was heartbreaking to deactivate it. Robert had gone through so much (heck, we all had) to be able to use this device and now it is causing him more seizures. Knowing he had the electronics in his head and chest and it was just sitting there, not being used, going through all the surgeries and MRIs and appointments . . . 


I turned it off but did so while hoping the seizures would continue. I’ve never wished for Robert to have seizures but just this once I wish they would continue. I was hoping the seizures were caused by something else and that it was just a weird coincidence they happened after the DBS was activated. 

No such luck. 

The seizures stopped. He’s had a few (his normal) since then but nothing like the daily clusters he was having while the DBS was on. 

We had planned a long weekend beach vacation for later in the month and made the most of it. It was what we all needed after such a stressful and disappointing process the last few months. 

On the last day of our vacation Dr. K messaged me and asked if we wanted to try again with a different setting. Yes! I am hopeful there is a setting that Robert’s brain can tolerate. Maybe there’s a setting below A that we can start with instead. Maybe we need to leave it on longer than a week and let his brain adjust. Maybe we need another MRI to make sure everything is still located where it’s supposed to be. 

Maybe there is still a chance for this DBS to work for Robert. 

Today we go in to try again. I have more questions. Robert will have more jokes. We know we have an army of people saying prayers, sending well wishes and hoping for the best for this second try. 

Hope and support are what we are hanging onto. 

1 comment:

Hernadez Linda Jay said...

I found about Doctor Patrick on internet where someone wrote about him and advised to contact him, after reading the

testimony, I was really impressed and decided to contact this Doctor, he wrote me back and tell me about the medicines, I ordered the medicines from the Doctor and I used it as I was instructed for one month only, then I went to my Medical Doctor for another diagnostic, he run a test on me and I was negative, no epilepsy and am cured from seizure totally, its been seven months now, I haven't had any seizures, I am here happy and I thank God that am alive and strong to share my own testimony today, I pray whosoever that is reading this testimony should also find favor from Doctor Patrick herbal medicines. You can contact this doctor on email and WhatsApp number is +2348021312463