I've had epilepsy since I was 16 years old. I had convulsions as a boy but then outgrew them. During puberty they came back and progressively got worse until I was on three different kinds of medications—14 pills in total. I could barely function.
The medicine wasn't working. I started having convulsions on the job and I never knew when they would come. I was 37 at the time. It was hard to function and hold a job. Luckily, I had a good employer.
In April of 2006, I was going to a specialist in Towson. They wanted to give me more medicine and I didn't want that. They said Dr. Jennifer Hopp [a neurologist and epilepsy specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center] might be able to help. That was the best thing they ever did for me.
When I met with Dr. Hopp, we first talked about medicine. She said that she didn't think the medicine alone would completely control the seizures but that I might qualify for an operation called a temporal lobectomy (otherwise known as an anterior temporal resection). I was tested in May of 2006 to see if I would be a candidate for the surgery. After the testing, they determined that I was a candidate. I went on new medications that worked better, but I still wanted surgery because there was the risk that the medication could stop working over time.
In August of 2006, Dr. Howard Eisenberg [R.K. Thompson professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine] performed the surgery. The operation was on a Thursday or Friday and I was home by Sunday afternoon and I was fine. It's the best thing I ever did. I got my life back. Now I'm not on all of those medications that made me tired and I'm not asleep all the time. Before the surgery, I'd go home at 5:30 p.m. and lay down until 9 p.m. Now I don't go to bed until 10:30 p.m., and I sleep all night.
I haven't had any seizures since the surgery. That's really remarkable. I had another EEG last spring and it came back normal. That gave me the confidence to go off of the medications permanently.
I honestly can't say a bad thing about UMMC—the doctors genuinely cared about how I felt. They are very informed. My wife got to stay with me when I was there for testing and surgery and she was happy about that. I received better care there than anywhere else. They went out of their way to take care of me. All of the nurses were very good.
Dr. Hopp is wonderful. She told me how things would go and what to expect. She came to the operating room when I had the surgery and was even there for part of the procedure. She cared enough to come for that, even though she wasn't doing the surgery.