Many women who have epilepsy are worried about the health risks that could come with having a baby. Epilepsy can have a profound effect on the lives of those who are diagnosed and who have seizures, and that was certainly the case for a woman named Alisha Mehaffey.
Alisha did not have epilepsy as a child. A few days before she graduated from college she had her first seizure. According to Mehaffey, it was a grand mal seizure. Fortunately, she was with her mother at home at the time and her family was able to call an ambulance for her.
Being diagnosed with epilepsy caused a number of unwelcome changes to occur in her life, as it does with many people. She was going to become a pharmacist, but had her application rejected and was banned from driving for two years. It was a profound change to her life, but she did not let that stop her from trying to move forward. She did not let herself become a victim of her situation. Instead, she started to get her seizures under control, changed career plans and got married.
Things were going well for Alisha until about a year after she got married. She began to have more seizures again. Alisha's seizures escalated to the point where she was having at least five seizures per month. She was having enough uncontrolled seizures per month that it was starting to affect many areas of her life. Mehaffey experienced the stigma that still surrounds epilepsy, even though there are plenty of tools online where people can become educated about the condition.
Eventually, the seizures became as frequent as four a week. Having this many seizures was enough to make her feel as though she could not leave her home for fear of what might happen. She could no longer do the things that she once did and wasn't enjoying life anymore. Also, the seizures coming back meant that she had given up on the idea of having a child because she felt that she was unable to take care of herself.
Alisha was unsure of what to do at this point, but spoke with her neurologist who recommended her to an expert named Dr. Nitin Tandon from the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science center at Houston. Dr. Tandon is an expert in helping patients who have periventricular nodular heterotopia, the type of lesions that were affecting Mehaffey.
He suggested a minimally invasive procedure that uses robotic stereo-electroencephalography or SEER. The electrodes are implanted into the brain using extremely thin probes. They are placed in the brain for 10 days to observe the brain, so they will have a better idea on how to handle the laser ablation that is meant to take out the lesion. There were risks to the procedure, but Mehaffey and her husband believed that the risks were worth getting a better handle on her seizures.
The procedure went well and there were no lasting problems after the surgery. In addition, the seizures have stopped for Mehaffey entirely. Since they have stopped, she became pregnant and is now a mother. Becoming a mother is something, that just a few short years ago, she did not think would be possible for her. Hopefully, others will be able to benefit from this relatively new procedure, as well.