• Neurology Patient Stories

    Surgery to treat epilepsy leaves woman seizure-free

Carla HuelsmannCarla Huelsmann was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 2. Throughout her childhood and early adult years, she experienced mainly petit mal seizures. Occasionally, she experienced slurred speech and lost her train of thought.

Although she disliked having the disease, medication helped keep her seizures to a minimum and allowed Huelsmann to do many of the things she wanted. She attended college, got married and welcomed a daughter, Kelsey.

Huelsmann and her husband, Scott, celebrated Kelsey's birth. But they were discouraged to discover that pregnancy had changed the hormone levels in Huelsmann's body, making seizure control more difficult.

For six years, Huelsmann's doctors worked to find the right medications and dosages to control her epilepsy. Despite their efforts, her seizures became more frequent and intense.

"My body was out of control," says Huelsmann. "I was having seizures on a daily basis. I truly felt that my life was coming to a halt and the seizures were taking over."

While searching online for information about treatment, Huelsmann read about epilepsy surgery being done at Mayo Clinic for people whose seizures couldn't be controlled with medications or other techniques. She decided to travel to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to learn more.

After several appointments and a thorough evaluation, neurologists determined that Huelsmann was a good candidate for the procedure. Her seizures could be pinpointed to one area of her brain, and it was likely that surgery could correct the problem. She decided to have surgery.

Since the day a Mayo Clinic surgeon removed scar tissue from the left temporal lobe of her brain, Huelsmann has been seizure-free.

"The years since surgery have been the best for me," she says. "I feel like a new person. The freedom from having seizures has allowed me to live my life to the fullest."