DENVER (CBS4) – A young mother is preparing to undergo brain surgery. She is hoping it will pinpoint where her epileptic seizures originate and help her doctor determine if it is possible to eliminate them. Shana Burleigh is taking this step for herself and for her family.
“Can you draw me a pterodactyl?” Shana asked her son, Rowan.
Rowan is 4 years old and wild about dinosaurs.
Despite his young age, Shana says Rowan is very aware of her condition.
“He knows that there’s something wrong with me,” she told CBS 4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
The 35-year-old has epilepsy. She started having seizures seven years ago. On Mother’s Day 2018, she had to be hospitalized.
“I just kept having seizures back to back to back and they ended up putting me into an induced coma,” she said.
Shana takes medications. She has had test after test. She is preparing for a new one, one she hopes will lead to relief.
“We hope to pinpoint within just a few millimeters where exactly the seizures are starting,” said Dr. Matthew Mian, Shana’s neurosurgeon at Swedish Medical Center.
He will perform a stereotactic EEG.
He will use 3D software based on Shana’s MRI to plan where to place electrodes.
“I’m focusing on any abnormalities that might be the cause for her seizures,” Mian explained.
Then using a robot to guide him, he will drill tiny openings in the skull and place the electrodes directly into her brain.
“We plan to do about 10 or 12 of those,” Mian said.
He will then monitor Shana’s seizures in the hospital.
“It’s going to be really kind of scary,” said Shana.
But if they can find the spot and eventually remove it, Mian says patients often improve.
“Something like a 70% chance of being completely free of seizures,” he said.
“That’s ultimately what we want is to be seizure free,” said Shana.
It would be a better life for Shana, her husband, Mike, and Rowan.
“No child should have to be worried about their mom,” she said.
The family has a GoFundMe if you’d like to help with medical expenses.