Taking Charge of Your Health

following UW 360 story is made possible by the
generous support of UW Medicine Neuroscientists Institute. A leader in
providing expert care for neurological conditions,
discovering novel treatments, and spearheading education
of future clinicians. More at MICHAEL FOX: I’m a
high energy person. And then the seizures would hit. They’re very brief,
but then the impact– I’m suddenly exhausted
and exhausted in a way like you’ve just run a marathon. INTERVIEWER: Michael
Fox was healthy, active, and a successful professional
when he was diagnosed with epilepsy. MICHAEL FOX: I fought through
so many different things in my life. And this one, you
can’t do anything. INTERVIEWER: As his marketing
job became more demanding, the seizures increased. MICHAEL FOX: That I would
have as many as 15 seizures in a single day– after 15 seizures
in that one day, I didn’t have the energy,
really, to lift a cup of water to my mouth. WENDY FOX: At that time,
we had a two-year-old and a four-year-old. To watch them watch
daddy have a seizure– and just that panic in their
face, like, what is happening? JOHN MILLER: One of the
worst things about epilepsy is you never know when the
seizure is going to happen. It’s always hanging
over their head. Am I going to have a seizure? How’s that going
to affect my life? And so I think the fear
of having a seizure never totally goes away from people. WENDY FOX: We knew that the
medicine wasn’t working, surgery was an option,
but brain surgery– it just sounds
incredibly intimidating. MICHAEL FOX: My seizures
were increasing to a point– because each seizure
causes damage. And as it increased,
I got to the point of having grand mal seizures. I stopped breathing during them. So the point was, at some
point, one of my seizures is going to cut off
breath to the point where I’m going to die. INTERVIEWER: The seizures
terrified Michael, his wife Wendy, and their six children. He was referred to the
UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute Regional
Epilepsy Center. JOHN MILLER: The treatments
vary for those patients. Sometimes it’s medication. Sometimes it’s
different medications that aren’t widely available. Sometimes it’s devices. And sometimes it’s
brain surgery. JEFFREY OJEMANN:
One of the things that both a physician
and a patient get when they’re working with
the UW Medicine Neurosciences Institute and with
the Regional Epilepsy Center is that whole team. So it’s not just the
parts of the team, but the interaction and
the fact that we’re all thinking about the
patient and not just our pieces of the puzzle. MICHAEL FOX: Here,
it was a partnership. We want to know where you’re
at, what your needs are, and if we’re
communicating effectively. INTERVIEWER: Michael’s
health care team was able to identify the
source of his seizures. JEFFREY OJEMANN: Now this is a
very exciting time in medicine. We have had the
benefit of new imaging tools, new technologies,
like the laser ablation. We have the ROSA
robotic device that allows us to place and
slide in a very thin laser and then heat the region
while watching the temperature in the MRI scan. So these engineering
advances and imaging advances have allowed us to give
very targeted therapies. I think they went
in right there. And there’s not a mark, there’s
not a place, nothing, nothing at all in there. JOHN MILLER: My goal is to have
patients get their life back because seizures have such a
profound impact on people’s life. MICHAEL FOX: After fully
recuperating, I do drive. I have time with my kids. Yesterday, I just finished
re-roofing our 1,850 square foot house. And that’s just one
of the many things that I’ve been able to do. This is unquestionable
world class facility. And I felt like royalty. I was so well cared for. So I think we’ve got all the
time in the world to do this.

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