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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Epilepsy Surgery Service

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Sarah's story

October 2018

Sarah is a 51 year old woman. She underwent right temporal lobe surgery in September 2013.

She has been seizure-free since surgery.

Sarah's story - video

Sarah developed seizures when she was three, but they stopped when she was 16. However, in the months after the birth of her third child, when her sleep was very disturbed, she began to experience 'funny feelings' which she later found out were partial seizures. She also started experiencing overt seizures and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. Her epilepsy was diagnosed as drug-resistant following trials of several drugs, so she began to undergo a number of assessments to see if she could be a candidate for surgery.

Sarah underwent the main assessments including MRI, video telemetry and neuropsychological assessment. She needed two admissions for video telemetry (the first for one week and the second for two weeks) as she did not have any seizures during the first admission. She then had an amytal (Wada) test and it was confirmed that she was eligible for surgery. An important factor in her decision to have surgery was advice that her memory would be likely to deteriorate if her seizures continued unchanged.

Following surgery, Sarah remained in hospital for three days, but was keen to get back home where she felt she would sleep better. She slowly built back up her activities such as walking the dog. In the days following her discharge from hospital, she experienced a number of side effects such as sickness, nerve pain in the head and facial swelling. These worried her at first and she called the ward number that had been provided to discuss these symptoms with the team. They reassured her that her symptoms were not serious.

Sarah made good progress after surgery and as soon as she had been seizure free for 12 months she re-gained her driving licence and has been driving ever since. Recovery was not completely straightforward however, and she experienced some mood-related problems while coming off some of her antiepileptic medications.

These difficulties improved gradually with time and with the support of her family. She feels she has 'got her life back', and is now on one antiepileptic drug which she intends to be on for life.

Since surgery Sarah has skydived from 10,000 feet, has abseiled down the John Radcliffe Hospital and regularly participates in physical exercise. She is currently working as a cleaner and for her husband's landscaping business, as well as being a mum to her three children.

Sarah's advice

  • After surgery, listen to your body and rest as much as you need to.
  • Do not try and do too much too quickly.
  • After surgery, still look after your brain even if you are seizure-free, for example, exercise, limit alcohol intake and get plenty of sleep.
  • View recovery from epilepsy surgery as an ongoing process that you need to actively work on.