HOUSTON – November is epilepsy awareness month. We’re meeting a local man who triumped over epilepsy, a condition which kept him from living a full life.
For years, Christopher Borck had recurring seizures. He tried multiple treatments, but nothing seemed to work until he met the team at Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute. What happened next changed his life.
“So, it started when I was twelve years old,” said Borck. December 19th. Borck doesn’t remember much from that night. He added, “The only thing I remember is getting into a green van. My Mom was absolutely terrified. I think I had maybe four or five seizures on that night.”
After a battery of tests Borck was diagnosed with epilepsy. “It was pretty much controlled with medications. I had one maybe every two, three months... It really was just me having seizures from then on until I was 18 years old when I finally had my EMU stay.”
EMU stands for Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. Borck stayed in the unit for about a week. Under constant supervision, his brain would be stressed to cause seizures. This would give doctors the data needed to see what part of the brain is causing his seizures and determine what type of treatment he needed.
“They were able to say it was multi-focal. Coming from different spots from my brain, but they never suggested surgery.”
The doctors never suggested surgery and Borck, and his parents also decided against it. At the time, the medication was working.
“And then they started to get worse. They started to happen every two weeks or so. Which was really, really irritating... I lived alone in my apartment. Multiple times I had a seizure where I got injured. One time I fell on a toilet. I had to get eight stitches on my head.”
Irritated and tired of not only hurting himself but being closed off from the world, Borck decided it was time for another EMU stay at Memorial Hermann.
Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute
“This is one of the largest comprehensive epilepsy programs in the country,” said Dr. Samdem Lhatoo, Director Texas Comprehensive Epilepsy program. He added, “It’s a level four center. Which means we deal with very complex patients. We offer a variety of medical and surgical interventions.”
The team at the Memorial Hermann Comprehensive Epilepsy program is dedicated to their patients. Highly trained technicians, nurses, neuro physiologist, radiologist, psychologist, and surgeons work together to identify the epileptic focus and remove it with a minimum of collateral damage.
“They were able to see that it was coming from a certain area. Instead of placing electrodes just on the scalp. They place electrodes directly onto the brain. From that, they were able to tell, along with an MRI. It showed there was a knot in my brain. They thought that it was that part that needs to be taken out, and if I did that. I had a sixty percent chance to be seizure free with medication,” said Borck.
“If we can identify the precise focus. It can be tackled surgically,” said Lhatoo.
Hopeful and ready
Hopeful, Borck was ready. Ready for surgery and ready to start living seizure free.
“I remember my head being swollen for about two weeks. I looked pretty weird after the surgery. I’ve had no seizures since, and that’s been more than two years,” said Borck.
“In previous times, without the benefit of modern technology that kind of epilepsy would have been difficult to treat surgically. Christopher was one such patient who availed of these technologies,” said Lhatoo.
On his medication and seizure free, Borck’s life has really opened up. This once self-described hermit crab is out of his shell. Now being able to drive himself around and meet new people.
Creating a family
“I met my now wife. Jessica. She and I got married and I moved into a house finally. I have a baby. So basically, everything is opening up.”
“This is probably the biggest opening. Right here.”
Help and hope
If you have epilepsy that has not improved with two or more medications, the Texas Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Memorial Hermann Mischer Neurosciences can help.