GRAY MATTER GLITCH: Stopping Wayne's Seizures
Date: 12/7/2017
Brain Surgery Restores Speech

 

 

The symptoms struck Wayne suddenly, rousing him from sleep in the middle of the night. Something was causing his head to jerk downward and to the right.

“You ever see a fish with a hook in its mouth, and you just keep tugging it? That’s what it was doing,” the 52-year-old Hamilton resident says.

His speech was also distorted and incoherent. He likens the sound and the sensation inside his head to a child mashing the keys of piano. His mother, whom he lives with after suffering disabling accident in 1983, knew something was wrong and called 911.

Wayne first received the diagnosis of seizures brought on by a pea-sized meningioma, or brain tumor. He received a prescription for seizure medication and sent home after his speech normalized.

That might have been the end of Wayne’s story had it not been for a glitch with his cell phone. About a week and a half after discharge, he was at home when his phone began to repeatedly call a close friend, Andy. When Andy answered and heard Wayne, he knew something was amiss.

“What’s wrong with you? You sound like you’re drunk,” Wayne recalled his friend saying. “I said, I’m not drunk, Andy. You know I don’t drink.”

Wayne was in the midst of another seizure. This time, he was admitted to the hospital under the care of neurosurgeon Nazer Qureshi. A second examination of Wayne’s brain scans indicated that the meningioma was actually something more complex, Qureshi says. He noticed that affected area had a great deal of edema, or swelling around it, making it about a size of a fist.

“It looks like somehow, he probably had a scalp infection, and it went to the brain where there was an inflammatory response to contain it,” Qureshi says. “The swelling in the brain then caused the seizures and other symptoms.”

Brain surgery, or a craniotomy, was Qureshi’s recommended course of treatment. The case would be RWJ Hamilton’s first brain surgery in about 20 years.

Qureshi first removed a portion of Wayne’s skull. Using a microscope and systems to monitor brain activity, he removed all traces of the affected area of Wayne’s brain, leaving the healthy tissue intact. Wayne would wake a few hours later able to communicate, think, and speak without a hint of hindrance.

He describes Qureshi’s bedside manner as impeccable.

“The first time I met him, he put me at ease so much, I just said, ‘Well, here’s the man that’s going help me out.’ Not only did he talk to you, but he looked you in the eyes and he didn’t hurry up to get out of the room,” Wayne says. “I can’t even tell you how different life is. Life feels so much better. I can never repay him.”

Qureshi says Wayne’s prognosis is good.

“The tumor turned out not to be a malignancy – good for him. And I believe he can be taken completely off of seizure medications very soon.”

Since the procedure, Wayne has had no setbacks. He attends his three weekly therapy session – physical, occupational and speech – religiously. He says his fellow patients can’t identify what’s wrong with him. Wayne describes this procedure as a turning point in his life.

“I don’t know what this did to me, whatever they took out of my head. I told my mother, you know I was a happy bachelor. I’ve had girlfriends before. But I see things clearer now. I feel like there was a gray mist taken out of my head. But all I know is if I get married now – because it looks like the future is looking up – I’ll have to move her out of the house. I told her she’s going to have to go.” 

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