CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — November is epilepsy awareness month, which is a time for patients and healthcare professionals to educate others about the condition.
One Lowcountry epilepsy patient who was diagnosed during his freshman year of college said new technology has helped him live with the disease.
“It’s something that I have,” Erick Gordon said. “It’s not who I am. It’s not what defines me.”
March of next year will mark his 17th year living with the disease.
“It was kind of scary to start out with,” Gordon said. “It kind of brought a big halt to my life at that point. It took away a lot of freedoms that I had, uh, like driving and working.”
When he was first diagnosed, Gordon said he was having about thirty seizures a month.
His treatment was initially several medications, but he soon realized that wasn’t what he needed.
“He asked if he could be a surgery candidate, and unfortunately, we found out that he was not a typical surgery candidate,” Karen St. Marie, Gordon’s mom, said. “He became involved in clinical trials.”
But because of technology, Gordon has been able to see immense improvements.
His new treatment plan includes an RNS.
Dr. Zeke Campbell, a neurologist at MUSC, explained that RNS stands for responsive neurostimulation, which is done through an implant in the brain.
“When it detects what it thinks is a seizure or might be a seizure, it delivers stimulation in response to that, hence, the term responsive neurostimulation,“ Campbell said.
Campbell said in addition to RNS, the medical world has seen advances in medication, too.
“We’ve expanded the number of medications that are available, though now we have about 30 different anti-seizure medications,” Campbell said. “A few decades we only had a handful.”
Now, Gordon has seizures less frequently. When he does have one, his recovery is faster than before.
“We dream as caregivers and as patients that one day something’s gonna come around that helps them,” St. Marie said. “So as long as we have scientists and doctors who are dreaming as well to come up with these things, um, I mean, it’s just, and it’s inspirational too to know that there, there are still people out there who are trying to make a difference.”