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Patient Testimonials

Explore these first-hand accounts of patients whose lives have been changed through the efforts and dedication of St. John Providence Health System’s Neuroscience specialists.

Epilepsy: The right treatment gave Jacqueline her life back

For Jacqueline, her grandchildren are everything. Epilepsy was limiting her ability to be the grandmother she wanted to be. The specialists at St. John Providence Health System let her be whole again.

Jacqueline’s story

Epilepsy: The right treatment gave Jacqueline her life back

Jacqueline knew something was very, very wrong.

“I had a car accident, and the next day I started having seizures,” Jacqueline said. “The seizures felt like something electrical running back and forth across my forehead.

“I went to my doctor, and he sent me over to the neurologist. We then discovered that the electrical feelings were a partial type seizure. I discovered I had epilepsy.”

She said she was a little unsure what to expect.

After visiting Dr. Aboukasm, her neurologist, she felt a whole lot better. “He’s so kind. When I go into his office, I feel very safe. He makes me feel like I’m the only patient that he has.”

Dr. O’Neil, another St. John neurologist, explains, “St. John Providence Health System is a center of excellence for Neuroscience. We have the latest advanced techniques and treatments for epilepsy.”

In severe cases, surgery is sometimes recommended to stop the seizures, but in Jacqueline’s case medication was prescribed. Dr. O’Neil said, “In the last 10 years, we have many more medications available to treat epilepsy. We now have more than 22 medications available to us, two of which have become available just in the past three months.”

“It’s very frightening,” Jacqueline says, “to have something like this, maybe even more so at an older age … to just all of a sudden have so many limits that you had never had before.”

But Jacqueline was always optimistic about the outcome, “With the care of my doctor and the care of the St. John Providence Health System, I knew I’d be OK.”

In addition to other restrictions, Jacqueline was told she could not drive. She wasn’t even allowed to be alone with her grandkids until they found the right medication for her. It was extremely frustrating, but she could feel herself improving as they adjusted her medication and worked to make her better.

“My doctor has helped me to get the control back into my life,” Jacqueline explains. “I was able to return to driving and doing things. I can go shopping when I want to go shopping. I don’t have to wait until somebody’s available to give me a ride. I can watch my grandchildren all by myself.”

“My treatments made all this possible … gave it all back to me so I’m able to be a grandmother again. It means everything to me.”

Parkinson's: Revolutionary surgery turned Herb’s life around

Herb did everything he could to fend off Parkinson's. He took his medication. He exercised. He was determined to stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible. Then, his doctor told him surgery was needed.

Herb’s story

Parkinson's: Revolutionary surgery turned Herb’s life around

When Herb was diagnosed almost seven years ago with Parkinson’s disease, he did everything he could to slow down the disease.

He took his medication. He exercised a couple of hours a day. He was determined to stay as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.

“I got a beautiful wife and two beautiful sons … that’s why I push myself to do what I do.”

But as Dr. Cullis, Herb’s neurologist states, “Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that makes you slow, stiff, and shaky.” You can’t stop it, and over time the medications become less effective.

Luckily for Herb, St. John Providence Health System is on the cutting edge of treatment options for this disease.

“We’re one of only a few centers in the Midwest that are putting in deep-brain stimulators for Parkinson patients. The deep-brain stimulator is kind of like a pacemaker that instead of going into the heart, goes into the brain,” according to Dr. Cullis.

"You can take somebody who really can’t function at all because they’re stiff and they’re shaky, you can put this device into their brain, and it restores the function to the point that they may actually be able to go back to work and lead a normal life again. It’s amazing.”

Herb agrees.

“This operation did wonders for me,” he says. “It helped me out a lot. It has been successful for me. What they did for me, I can never set a price on it.”

Herb is back to driving, back to his part-time jobs, and back to being a loving husband and dad.

Dr. Cullis said that “the evolution of neuroscience over the last few years has been truly astounding. We couldn’t even take pictures of the brain 30 years ago. Now we’ve got so much more that we can do for patients. It’s a very exciting thing for us.”

Herb still visits Dr. Cullis to get adjustments to the deep brain stimulator. He said Dr. Cullis even keeps an eye on him between visits because Herb works as an usher at Joe Lewis Arena.

“Dr. Cullis has season tickets across the ice from me. He watches everything I do. Going up and down stairs, taking people up and down, and stuff like that.”

Herb laughs and says that every so often Dr. Cullis makes a trip across the ice just to tell him, “You’re doing great, Herb. You’re doing great.”

Balance and Falls: Relief at last

Janet had a balance and inner-ear problem that was affecting every aspect of her life. Specialists at the St. John Providence Health System Balance and Falls Clinic were able to relieve her of the dizziness and let her get back to enjoying life once again.

Janet’s Story

Balance and Falls: Relief at last

“I was very dizzy. I had a very bad headache, and I was photophobic, so it was really hard to keep my eyes open without using sunglasses.”

Janet had a balance and inner-ear problem that was affecting every aspect of her life. At the suggestion of her middle school principal, at the school where she taught, she went to see Dr. LaRouere, a neuro-otologist.

“Hearing and balance disorders affect millions of Americans,” says Dr. LaRouere. “With balance-and-falls disorders, a patient's daily life is very much impacted. They have trouble going to work, or trouble doing just the everyday things of life.

"Currently we have several diagnostic areas in which we can pinpoint the patient's balance problem. And then we have treatments that are geared toward those specific balance disorders,” explains Dr. LaRouere.

Dr. LaRouere and his team tried everything to find the answer to Janet’s problem.

"Our St. John Providence Health System Balance and Falls Clinic is unique in that we have a multidisciplinary approach, or a team approach, to balance disorders. We have the world-renowned Michigan Ear Institute, of which I'm a member, which treats inner-ear disorders. In addition to that, we have neurologists, neurosurgeons, and vestibular therapists who work closely with each other in treating these patients' balance disorders.”

They also have one of three unique systems in the entire country called the Epley Omniax® System, which is used to treat positional dizziness.

“This machine can actually work within minutes or seconds in relieving the patient of their balance disorder,” Dr. LaRouere says.

Unfortunately, after many tests and treatments, Janet’s problem proved to be so severe she ended up having surgery. She remembers, “My doctor and his staff, I've gotten to know all of the nurses and the other people there, they've been phenomenal. The people at the hospital, everybody, has just been fantastic. During that year, I was pretty much dependent on everyone.”

Today, Janet is grateful to have her life back.

“Once I was done with this surgery, I was able to able to go back to having a social life. I could go and buy a gallon of milk without calling someone and asking them to take me. I could teach school without wearing sunglasses. I could go out to the golf course and play, without being sick after one hole of golf. I could go to a movie theater and watch a movie without having to take some medicine. It's fantastic. When I woke up, and that dizziness was gone, there was just pure elation. “


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