The May appointment lasted a bit longer than most. There is no complaining about that fact because I would really be a little upset if he rushed in and out of the exam room. We talked over things as they relate to Kerstin, seizure activity, weight gain, possible increase in medicines and even a possible new treatment or new med to add to regimen. The treatment would be to maybe consider Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy (VNS therapy). What is VNS therapy? "Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Therapy is a medical device proven to treat difficult-to-control seizures, also known as drug-resistant epilepsy. The device sends mild pulses through the vagus nerve to areas of the brain known to be associated with seizures" (VNS Therapy Overview)."
Until this appointment, I had never heard of VNS therapy an was unaware of the process of placement or the potential benefits. In the meantime, her neurologist wanted to add a new medicine to hopefully help with Kerstin's nocturnal and catamenial seizure activity. The new med, phenobarbital, to be given once daily at night/bedtime. The first thing noticed was that Kerstin was immediately sleeping better and through the night. She even started to sleep later into the next morning but one day when I was not home with her Kerstin slept well into the day, 11:30 a.m. and went to sleep again around 2:30 p.m. This scared me and my sister, who was keeping her for me that day. I called the neurologist and told the intake what was going on and the nurse immediately called back to calm my nerves some. There is an adjustment period to this medicine and it can cause a lot of drowsiness. I was told to watch her over that weekend but if she slept like that again to call immediately.
Over that weekend, I reached out to a friend to see whether her daughter was on this new med, if she knew someone who was and if she new any families who has VNS therapy. Her daughter is on a different med, one that Kerstin had been taken off of, she knew friends on phenobarbital and said at first they were completely drowsy and she knew friends on VNS and loved it. Now, back to the phenobarbital, Kerstin has continued taking it at night, the drowsiness comes and goes, for the most part she has been sleeping really well at night with very few exceptions.
Last month, I was able to get in on a caregiver chat with families that are using VNS therapy and those that have been given this option as an epilepsy treatment. There is another coming up soon, that I may attend. I have also been added to a Facebook caregivers, users and professionals group. VNS is a being highly praised as a way to treat seizures/epilepsy without the use of so many meds or high dosages of anti-epileptic medications and their long term side-effects.
So, where will this journey take us? I'm not even sure. I do know that there is a follow up with her neurologist in a few months and a possibility of a consultation with a neurosurgeon around the same time.
More to come...