Leanna has struggled with Focal simple partial seizures stemming from a growth in the left temporal lobe of her brain for a number of years. She was diagnosed in 2008 after speaking with a neurologist about these strange "episodes" she had been having. On a normal day, she would get a strange sense of deja-vu. She felt that everything that was being said around her had been said before but she couldn't place it. You all have had the feeling before, I'm sure. Only instead of it only lasting a split second, these feelings would last anywhere from 10 seconds to several minutes. She also found that she lost the ability to speak during these strange times. After confirming with the neurologist and seeing the MRI, it was determined that these feelings, while bizarre, are typical for the type of medical situation she was in. The Temporal Lobe is where your speech is controlled and for whatever reason, folks with temporal lobe epilepsy often have that dejavu "aura" (the feeling most people get right before they have a seizure). Unlike many people who suffer from epilepsy, Leanna stays completely alert before, during and after an episode. She can look you right in the eye and continue along with all motor functions with the exception of talking. **This is why she's able to drive.** Most of you have seen her have one without a clue it was happening! She has learned that with the people who know of her condition, she can usually find a way to signal with her hands that she's temporarily out of commission, but please leave a message and she will be right back with you. :)
In January 2016 she had been having increased volume of seizures and her doctor began to suspect that her benign brain "tumor" was growing. He called for a 3-D MRI, for which she and I traveled to Birmingham. She had an allergic reaction to the contrast - but that's another story...
On February 28th, 2016 she had her first grand Mal seizure during which she broke her ankle and was both in a boot and unable to drive for 6 months. Anytime you have a seizure with a loss of consciousness, you MUST be seizure free for 6 months before you may drive again in the state of Alabama. In August 2016 we traveled with Leanna's mom to UAB for our first meeting with Dr. Helen Barkan of the Neurosurgery Unit. She is an epilepsy specialist who assists a neurosurgeon here during the surgeries. She told us a little more about Leanna's "tumor," which she explained might actually be a grouping of cells or a scar from a possible childhood accident. She also explained that since there had never been any change in size over the many years of MRI's keeping up with it, and with this recent "growth" being so minimal, she believed it was actually just a blur from movement during that MRI recoeding that made it appear to have grown. So no size change.
She mapped out a plan of action, beginning with Leanna booking an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) stay at UAB, the findings of which would then be assessed by a board of doctors. At that point they might want to do surgery to remove the "tumor," but that all remains to be seen.