The continuing success story of Kerry Jenkins

November 27, 2014

In January, Voices of Epilepsy spoke with 45-year-old Peterborough resident Kerry Jenkins, who had lived with epilepsy since age seven. She shared her story of how deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery cut her seizures in half and eliminated her tonic-clonic seizures. The surgery continues to improve her quality of life.

Kerry Jenkins is seen here during Purple Day 2013.
Kerry Jenkins is seen here during Purple Day 2013.

Today, Jenkins says that 75 per cent of her seizures have been eliminated as a result of the surgery. While she’s still experiencing four to six seizures per month, they’re all “very minor” complex-partial seizures. Changing the timing on her DBS device is what has made the difference, she says.

In December 2012, Jenkins received a DBS implant. Also called a “brain pacemaker,” it is implanted into the chest. An electrode connects the device to the brain and a stimulating charge is sent at programmed intervals.

Last November, Jenkins’ neurologist, Dr. Danielle Andrade, changed the timing of the DBS implant, so it went for a full minute then switched off for five minutes. She also altered the device’s positive and negative charges. Starting in February, Jenkins had a six-week period where she was seizure-free.

Although her seizures did return, Jenkins says full recovery from the surgery can take more than two years. Given her success to date, she says she’s optimistic about the future.

As a result of improvements with her condition Jenkins is now able to be more independent. Even something as simple as going for a walk alone with her dog has become more enjoyable because the fear of having a serious seizure is gone.

“I feel better and the seizures that I have are mild, (but) I would like to get rid of the rest of the seizures,” Jenkins tells Voices of Epilepsy. “Twelve months ago I was still having complex-partial seizures; those are gone. My life is a lot better. ”

Jenkins’ success with DBS surgery caught the attention of Epilepsy Toronto. At the agency’s annual general meeting (AGM) in May, she was asked to give a presentation during a panel discussion on the value DBS surgery has had on improving her quality of life.

“They knew how much better I was doing and they wanted me up there speaking,” she says.

Jenkins offers some advice for anyone who has a seizure disorder and wants to improve their condition.

“If they have tried everything else, I think they should be pushing for (DBS surgery),” she says.

Writer: Deron Hamel

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