Brooke and Rob were thrilled with their new baby twin boys Jack and Nash, but when the babies were around 51/2 months old, Jack started having episodes that they barely recognized as seizures. When they became more frequent, they took him to the Canmore hospital – the nearest hospital to their home in Banff. The doctor there told them they needed to see the experts at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and that’s how Jack became a patient of Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Bello.
While in referral process, Jack’s episodes were happening more frequently – occurring hourly – and to the point where his torso would jackknife. And what Dr. Bello confirmed was that these episodes were actually seizures. Further scans and testing determined that the seizures were being caused by a condition Jack has called Polymicrogyria – where the brain develops too many folds and the folds are smaller. This condition also means that Jack’s brain is prone to seizures. While the seizures and the new diagnosis was terrifying, Jack’s parents felt very confident they were in the best hands with Dr. Bello and his team. The first goal was to attempt to control the seizures with medication, which is always a long process in finding the right one, and this case was no exception.
The seizures kept coming and he was regressing. The drugs often come with nasty side effects that can affect mood and personality or even give you an insatiable appetite. With drug after drug proving ineffective, an aggressive 40-day hormonal therapy was tried. It came with its own set of side effects, but it worked and Jack was seizure-free. He became coming back….smiling again…giggling again….being himself again. And Brooke and Rob had hope again. Jack started walking at 18 months and could say a few words. He was seizure-free until last summer when he began having them again. This was devastating news, but it was determined that Jack was a good candidate for brain surgery. And while no parent would want their child to undergo a brain surgery, as Neurosurgeon Dr. Walter Hader put it, “Jack is at a standstill in development and that won’t change without brain surgery.”
Once they got their own heads around it, they began to look forward to the surgery. So after mapping the brain to determine where the seizures were originating, Jack went for surgery on November 22. Jack had several resections in his brain – they took out the bad and left the good. Thankfully the brain is capable of rewiring itself, and as he began to recover, Jack showed no signs of permanent damage. In fact he was home in days, and walking and running soon after that. He is a happy boy, which Brooke say is what she cares about. Donor-funded microscope and navigation systems in the operating room where used in Jack’s surgery and helped to ensure the most accurate surgery possible.