It’s Follow-Up Friday, when we check in on our former patients. Today, we are reintroducing you to a patient you first met back in 2013. Wait until you hear what he’s up to now!
James Burke doesn’t remember the exact date of his first seizure. He does remember the six seizures he experienced while at the BCS National Championship Game in January 2010 that led to the 18-year-old being diagnosed with epilepsy. The next several years were filled with erratic, sometimes violent seizures that worsened over time.
On Nov. 2, 2013, Burke remembers hanging out with his friend at his parents’ house and then feeling a seizure coming on. He can recall leaving the room to get his medicine from the kitchen but after that, everything went blank.
Burke woke up two weeks later in the John S. Dunn Burn Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC). “Somehow I had turned on the gas stove and my T-shirt caught fire. There were second, third and even fourth-degree burns over 45 percent of my body.”
Burke made a strong recovery from the accident and later attended an event for Memorial Hermann as the keynote speaker. “That evening, someone came up to me and said I should visit Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and let them look into what was causing my seizures.”
Finding a Surgical Solution to His Seizures
By then Burke had already traveled across the country seeing countless specialists at leading institutions in search of answers. He was physically and emotionally exhausted, and though the idea seemed promising, he did not act on it then. The seizures continued, affecting his ability to drive, work or even be left alone. Finally, after a couple of years, Burke decided to visit Dr. Nitin Tandon, director of the Epilepsy Surgery Program at Mischer Neuroscience Institute and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
Dr. Tandon examined every scan, every test result, and discovered almost immediately what was causing Burke’s seizures: a meningoencephalocele, or a sac of abnormal, distorted brain tissue and fluid. “This condition is not so much uncommon but rather under recognized,” said Dr. Tandon.
On March 24, 2017, using a non-invasive procedure, Dr. Tandon was able to remove this tissue which was about the size of half a strawberry, and Burke has been seizure free ever since.
Today Burke is back to work; he’s driving a car and currently training to run the Houston Half Marathon in January.
“I’m looking forward to a life full of happiness, helping others with epilepsy, working full-time in my career, relationships, and potentially starting a family of my own,” said Burke.