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Free From Seizures - Maggie's Story

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Posted 10/13/2014

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"I will not waste my time switching doctors again, because I have already done that too many times. I guess this is my last cry for help." That's how Maggie Cannon ended a long email to the Deepak Madhavan, MD, medical director of The Nebraska Medical Center Epilepsy Program. She did not know Dr. Madhavan, but after eight years of seizures and repeated appointments with neurologists all over Omaha, Cannon felt like she was out of options. "We were so frustrated," Cannon said. "There were so many doctors who gave me different answers or different medicines. At one point, I was taking eleven different medicines each day." Even with the medication, her seizures continued. It was a difficult adjustment for Cannon, mother of two young daughters. Her seizures began during her first pregnancy and never stopped. Her frustrated email to Dr. Madhavan's office resulted in a quick call back. "They called me right away," she recalled. "He gave me so much confidence right away. 'We can try and figure it out,' he told me." "The first thing I sensed was her frustration and wanting to find an answer," Dr. Madhavan said. "We found that she suffers from a common type of adult onset epilepsy. It started in an area of her brain which was very treatable. For her, the treatment was surgery." After a series of diagnostic exams, including a MEG scan, Dr. Madhavan worked with neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Puccioni to plan the surgery. Cannon was understandably nervous before the procedure. Her family, knowing her sense of humor helped calm her nerves by throwing a "brain bash" party before she checked into the hospital. "You can feel very defeated with seizures," she said. "They were very good at making me laugh and calm down." Now, several months after her surgery, Cannon is seizure-free. Looking back, she remembers very clearly her frustration along with the hope that her condition could be treated. "Eight years of these horrible things," she said. "And all it took was one doctor to finally say, 'We can help you. We may be able to get rid of these things.'" "Her goal was seizure freedom," Dr. Madhavan said. "Which is nice, because that's my goal for most of my patients as well." Along with being cautiously optimistic that her seizures are over, Cannon may have found something else along the way. "She is a different person now," said Monica Bentzinger, RN, epilepsy case manager. "I think she's found trust in the medical field again. She knows she has a team who will help her and listen to her if she ever has issues in the future." "I feel lifted. I'm happier now, I have more energy," Cannon said between kicking the soccer ball with one of her daughters and taking turns with her husband pushing her other daughter on the swingset. "It's been great for our family."