Jennifer Fastner is experiencing a new normal in her life.
She has been seizure-free for five months following brain surgery in mid-December.
“I used to be shy, anxious and drained because of the seizures,” says Jennifer, a gregarious young woman who speaks with a smile in her voice.
Jennifer underwent brain surgery for epileptic seizures she had experienced since she was seven days old. Treated unsuccessfully throughout her life with every medication available for epilepsy, Jennifer was growing weary of the 30- to 40-second seizures, which began to increase in frequency last summer—Jennifer was having two to four weekly. It was apparent the seizures were becoming resistant to medication.
The seizures were an unwelcome and extremely anxiety-inducing part of Jennifer’s life.
“There were so many things that people take for granted that I couldn’t do because I never knew when a seizure would occur,” says Jennifer. “I couldn’t drive for six months following a seizure; I couldn’t swim without being watched. From a very early age I didn’t want to be in public for fear that I would have a seizure.”
Last fall Jennifer was referred to Michael Seeley, MD, neurologist, with Johnson County Neurology, and discussed options for managing the seizures.
“Because Jennifer had failed so many medication regiments, including clinical trials for new drugs, I recommended surgery,” says Dr. Seeley. “After reviewing her extensive medical file I thought she would be an excellent candidate.”
Jennifer, who has seen what she calls an “army of doctors” throughout her life, felt immediately comfortable with Dr. Seeley’s calm demeanor and positive attitude about her condition. “He laid out for me the benefits of surgery and that it really wasn’t as scary as I imagined it to be,” she says.
Jennifer went through a battery of pre-surgical tests, including a five-day monitoring regiment which included PET scans, MRIs and neuropsychological testing. When results came back that indicated Jennifer was a perfect candidate for the surgery, she was surrounded by the support and encouragement of her fiancée, family and friends. Jennifer’s surgery, a temporal lobe resection, was performed on December 12 by John Clough, MD. The procedure involved resecting brain tissue to remove the focus of the seizure.
During her six-week recovery period, Jennifer returned to exercising on her treadmill, returning to normal activities and resumed a full schedule in February, including going back to work, planning her September wedding and embracing life with a fresh perspective.
“I haven’t had a seizure in five months,” says Jennifer. “I’ve never felt so good. I have energy, my anxiety has disappeared, I’m stronger physically and my mindset is so positive.”
And that smile?
“It’s always there,” says Jennifer, radiating confidence.