"It happened all the time. I could feel it coming on – that aura and tick in my brain – and then the seizure would run its course. I would lose consciousness, my face would turn ashen. And I knew it had happened again," says 64-year-old Rick Younger, describing his lifetime with epilepsy.
Seizures were the norm for Younger after he was injured during birth. "My whole life, I was full of angst and dread," he says. "I never knew when a seizure was going to strike, but it became an expectation for my day."
Despite his epilepsy, Younger was determined to live what he considered a normal life. He married and had two children, and currently runs his own business in Lawrence. Still, he was never able to escape the relentless seizures.
Younger saw neurologists and took part in numerous medical studies over the years. He had almost given up hope that any treatment could help his condition. "I tried all kinds of medications, sleep deprivation experiments and treatments. Nothing worked. I still had the seizures," he says. "So when doctors at The University of Kansas Health System told me about this treatment and its possible side effects, I wasn't worried. For me, the only negative side effect was if the procedure didn't work."
Patrick Landazuri, MD, a fellowship-trained epileptologist at the health system's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, thoroughly evaluated Younger and initially prescribed aggressive treatment using medications. Because Younger's seizures persisted despite appropriate medical therapy, Dr. Landazuri then recommended a surgical procedure called left anterior temporal lobectomy. During the procedure, neurosurgeons removed the small part of Younger's brain that was causing his seizures.
A new day
"It was like flipping a switch – night and day. The results couldn't be any better," Younger says. "My days make more sense now because I don't have to worry whether I'm going to have a seizure. I am so pleased with the results. It's unbelievable how this has affected my life."
The University of Kansas Health System is a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, which is the highest designation awarded. The health system uses the most advanced methods to evaluate and treat patients. Younger, who had surgery in July, is now seizure-free for the first time in his life. He credits the "amazing" staff for his outcome.
"I'm floored at what the doctors, nurses, therapists and everyone there can do," he says. "They are the most compassionate and skilled group of people. I'm forever thankful."
Patients like Rick rely on us. Help us do more.
Our progress – and the progress of healthcare in our city and region – depends on the generosity of people like you. Because of such generosity, we're able to expand programs and treatments that save lives. And by giving, we can accelerate our ability to help those who need it most.