Every day clinicians and patients at Rush face moments of great challenge and great inspiration. During the holiday season, they’re sharing what they are thankful for and how their experiences at Rush have inspired them.
By Tiffany Stone
When other kids were trying to get out of going to school, I was begging to go.
I was a teenager when I started having seizures, caused by scar tissue on my brain from a brain tumor I had as a baby. Throughout my teen years, I was having regular seizures, tremors and severe vomiting, and medications did not help. I spent my days hanging over trash cans sick and holding onto furniture because I was so dizzy. The seizures made me forgetful and disoriented so I was in a constant haze.
I was too sick to go to high school, so a teacher brought my schoolwork to the house. But I wanted to go to school so badly. After pleading with the school and my parents to let me go, they finally gave in one day. That day, I was talking to a group of girls at a lunch table and the next thing I remember, they were all staring at me and looking at each other uncomfortably. They all scooted back from the table and left me there by myself. It turns out I had a seizure; I was rocking back and forth and wasn’t responding to anything. They thought I was so weird and it scared them off. Not an easy thing to go through as a teenage girl!
I spent almost 10 years seeing doctors across the country, from Georgia to California, looking for answers and treatments that would allow me to live a normal life. I went to neurologists, gastrologists and even alternative medicine doctors, but no one could help. I confused so many doctors, and no one knew how to treat me. A lot of doctors simply said there was nothing they could do for me and wouldn’t take my case.
But that all changed when I met Dr. Marvin Rossi at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Rossi diagnosed me with medication-resistant epilepsy and got to work. He was determined to find a way to help me.
When he offered me a chance to be part of an experimental nonresponsive stimulator trial, I agreed. I was frustrated with how many restrictions epilepsy put on my life; I just wanted something to work. After the procedure, I was doing better but I was still vomiting and nauseous. Dr. Rossi decided that surgery to remove my temporal lobe, which was likely causing the nausea, was the best way to lessen the scar tissue that was causing all of this.
Since the surgery, my life has changed dramatically. I have been seizure-free since November 2010, I am not on any medication for seizures and I am not hanging over trash cans getting sick anymore. I can finally live my life.
When I started having seizures, I had to give up my lifelong dream of being a nurse. But now I am in college studying counseling, with my ultimate goal to be a hospital chaplain. All that I have been through has helped me understand that even if I don’t treat patients physically, I can help them emotionally and spiritually. I am just 26 and I have had 17 surgeries. I know that sometimes the emotional pain of being sick can be harder than any physical pain.
I am so grateful to Dr. Rossi and his team at Rush. It was amazing how much concern everyone at Rush had for me and for my family. Dr. Rossi is such a good listener and is extremely caring. He understood what I was going through and worked tirelessly to help me. My brain and all the complications with it stressed Dr. Rossi and my whole family out! But he has been the one doctor who stuck with me and has not given up on me.