A dad needed brain surgery after 25 years of epileptic seizures that drugs struggled to control.
Rob Anderson, 47, was in his second year of university when a viral brain infection sparked his first seizure. He kept kept going into ‘absences’ mid-conversation, losing awareness of his surroundings and staring blankly into space for short periods of time.
He said the seizures left him lots of explaining to do to people who imagine epilepsy as “someone falling to the floor, thrashing around”. The engineering consultant from Warrington said: “It makes you feel quite insecure. In terms of your self-confidence and your self-perception, that’s where it’s hard.”
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Due to the danger posed by seizures, Rob had to stop driving or even cycling a decade ago, instead relying on the government’s Access to Work scheme for lifts to his job. In 2020, the seizures started getting worse, with one hitting after the other, each lasting longer than five minutes with no return to a normal level of consciousness in between.
After spending half his life trying new medications that would work for six months before giving way to a flurry of seizures, Rob needed a more permanent fix.
After two years of investigations, Rob underwent a temporal lobectomy removing part of his brain at The Walton Center once doctors located the area where seizures were starting. He said: “It was terrifying. Having made the decision to go in there and do it, it was scary to think, ‘What’s this going to actually involve?’, because they’re not just going to scratch a little bit off the top – they’ve got to go into the brain. So it was terrifying, and coming out was terrifying, struggling to think of typing things and repeating words. The recovery was long, I still struggled to find certain words, and I’ve developed a clicky finger thing when I’m trying to think of a word.”
He’s wary of jinxing it by saying it out loud, but Rob hasn’t had a single seizure since the operation last year. He’s still on a reduced dose of medication, but he’s able to drive for the first time in a decade, giving back his independence and easing pressure on his “phenomenal” wife Kate.
Rob said: “The potential of what this has done for me is phenomenal. After 25 years having these things, which were awful, being in a situation where you just sit there and you lose it and you’re just not with it, to have the potential now that these things have been stopped, the fact that they’ve rooted around in my brain and they’ve got rid of the scar tissue where these things started is amazing.”
To celebrate Rob’s recovery, he and Kate are walking from The Walton Center to Warrington on Tuesday, May 31 to raise money for the hospital’s charity. The charity helps fund projects to improve patient care and services at the only specialist NHS trust providing comprehensive neurology, neurosurgery, spinal and pain management services. You can donate to Rob and Kate’s fundraiser for The Walton Center Charity here.
Kate said: “With everything Rob has been through and the support that The Walton Center has given him over the years, we just had to start fundraising. Epilepsy has had a massive impact on our lives and I think some people don’t understand that , because it is an invisible condition. Sometimes it felt hopeless, but The Walton Center was always there. We feel incredibly lucky that we have this specialist hospital in our region and we had to celebrate that.”