New assessment bed could cut down wait list for epilepsy surgery
Published Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:51PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, March 27, 2014 6:47AM CST
Michelle Garrecht hasn’t always felt the poise and grace she now feels on the dance floor.
The dance instructor and mother, who’s been dancing since she was just four years old, started suffering seizures in 2007.
The seizures stopped her from working full-time as a teacher and kept her from driving. The hardest part, however, was how the seizures affected her relationship with her daughter.
“You feel like the world’s worst mom,” Garrecht said. “You have this epilepsy. You’re just waiting for the next seizure. All the things people take for granted, you can’t do. I can’t bath my daughter, can’t go for a walk, go to the park, can’t play with her.”
Five months ago Garrecht underwent a specialized procedure at Royal University Hospital. Doctors were able to pinpoint the exact source of her seizures and surgeons removed that part of her brain, allowing her to live seizure-free.
“You always feel fear, always waiting for the next seizure, so to have that off your shoulders and know there’s more to life for you, that you don’t have to worry, is just amazing,” she said.
The results Garrecht experienced after undergoing the surgery aren’t uncommon. A majority of patients see great success, often also becoming seizure-free.
The problem with the procedure is that many patients spend years waiting for testing.
Specialists in Saskatoon are hoping to alleviate that problem with a second assessment bed recently installed at RUH.
“It’s a significant change. We can improve the quality of life for patients who are in the community having seizures, injuries, having falls,” said Dr. Jose Tellez, a neurologist and epilepsy specialist. “With the second bed we are going to capture more of the patients who are suffering in the community.”
The second bed came at a cost of $100,000, but thanks to people like the Kolibabs, it was an easy number to reach. Last summer the family held a fundraiser that brought in $66,000 for the new bed. It was their way of saying thank you for the help they received when their son was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago.
“To have our son seizure free and know this helped him, we just hope it can help all the other people waiting for testing,” said Shantel Kolibab. “This could change their lives as well.”
Garrecht also hopes a second testing bed will help fast track patients for surgery — a surgery, she said, that changed her life.