The Sun Shines Brightly
Over The Muller Household
The cause of Liz Muller's over 20 years of seizure history is still a mystery. When she was five years old, she fell backwards off a porch about two or three feet and hit her head on a brick. The brick broke and she was given stitches for a large scalp laceration. She healed in the normal amount of time without any complications.
By the time Liz entered fifth grade she remembers having an aura similar to a deja vu or a "feeling like being there before."
Sometimes she felt nausea too. However, those were the only unusual feelings she experienced. Her studies went well and she went on to become a special education teacher for 19 years.
One day in 1980, Liz experienced her first big tonic clonic seizure while standing before her students. She says, "I didn't know what to make of it. Instantly, my world was changed as a result of it. From that point on, I just remember visits to the neurologists and taking a lot of medications."
Ironically, many of her students experienced seizures too. Fortunately, Liz was able to keep her job and most of her seizures occurred at night. She says, "I'd wake up tired and feeling sluggish. But, I was always ready to teach."
Four years before her first seizure, Liz met Marcus Muller, a paramedic with the San Marino Fire Department. It was a magnetic meeting for both of them. Soon after, they were married. Eight years later their beautiful daughter, Kellie arrived.
During most of these years Liz's seizures were well managed with anti-epileptic medications. Once in awhile she would have a break through seizure but nothing of serious concern.
Then, a few years ago, Liz's seizures grew worse and became unmanageable. Her life became one doctor's visit after another with several anti epileptic medications prescribed. She tried a total of eight medications without success.
Her spirits plummeted and she felt "life wasn't worth living like this." She was losing her sense of independence and Liz didn't know what to expect next.
In March of 1999, Marc's dad saw a feature news article in the Los Angeles Times on the Epilepsy and Brain Mapping Program at Huntington Memorial Hospital.
Marcus and her family encouraged her to take the necessary steps to determine if she would be a candidate for surgery. After a series of image tests, Liz was admitted to the Hospital for a seven day stay evaluation of the origin, type and extent of her seizures. Then, Liz was admitted to the hospital for another 20 days during a Phase II observation and finally another six days for Phase III.
Although her hospital stays were grueling, Liz and Marcus both say, "The nurses were wonderful with their words of encouragement. The volunteers were very helpful in bringing her the therapy dog to snuggle with."
After five hours of surgery performed by Dr. Adam Mamelak, she says, "I feel it was all worth it. My recovery took almost a full year, but I am now free of seizures and medications. The sun shines a whole lot brighter over us. I thank our Pastor, John Sims for his tremendous encouragement and I know all of our prayers were answered."
In addition to treasuring her "new life," Liz is now an active soccer mom and a volunteer at Huntington Hospital.
Lynn Burlin Is Enjoying
Life To The Fullest
Lynn Burlin grew up like any other precocious "kid in Southern California." Up until fifth grade there was no stopping her. She was on the swim team, earned good grades and loved arts and crafts from the time she was old enough to pick up a pen.
Then one day shortly before recess, she says, "I found myself talking but no one was understanding me. They thought I was goofing off and interrupting class. But, I was having my first seizure."
Within a space of three minutes, Lynn's life would be changed forever. The next thing she remembers were the endless series of tests and needles.
She says, "When I returned to school, my friends were sorry for me but they didn't want to discuss what had happened to me."
Because of all of the medical treatments, and other interruptions in her studies, her mother kept her back one year. She says, "I felt like I was being punished."
At first the medications worked up until she reached adolescence. Then, her seizures began again in spite of the medications.
Undaunted, Lynn remained active with her swim team, drill team and Little League Softball activities. By her late teens, Lynn's seizures worsened. Her medications were making her drowsy. And, she was depressed.
Her Dad suggested she attend an epilepsy support group. It was at her second meeting that she found the courage to seek a cure through surgery. After a thorough evaluation, it was determined that Lynn was a good candidate for surgery.
With a successful surgery behind her, Lynn has been living life seizure and medication free. She earned a degree in Art at Woodbury University. She met and married Tom Burlin who surprised her with her first dream car, a new silver Honda Prelude.
In 2000, Lynn began her own graphics business, Graphically Inclined where she's been actively assisting clients with their logo designs and brochures. In addition she volunteers her spare time to the Epilepsy Foundation and EBMP.
Lu Cindy Duncan Lives
A Life Filled With Song
Some time during the year 1961, as a one-year old baby, Lu Cindy Duncan began having seizures. At first they were febrile seizures, eventually they developed into "petit mal" or absence seizures.
Growing up for her was a living nightmare. As she says, "School was not a pleasant experience. I found it difficult to concentrate on my studies and my classmates teased me terribly after I suffered from a seizure."
Fortunately, Lu Cindy found a creative outlet playing the piano and singing. As a child, she always hoped that she could perform in front of others without thinking about having a seizure. As she says, "I became a Christian accepting, Christ into my life at the age of nine years old. I always remember praying to God hoping to be healed."
In spite of her seizures, her faith remained strong. She graduated from high school and enrolled in college. In 1981, three years into her studies, she was offered a job "too good to pass up" and she began working for the Federal Government.
She says, "Everyone I worked with knew I had epilepsy and they were very supportive of me. My supervisor even invited me to carpool with her so my inability to drive was never an issue or a hindrance. I was fortunate to be there and I felt God was watching over me."
From 1981 to 1986, Lu Cindy worked for a lot of interesting people with challenging assignments. Eventually, she moved to Germany and worked on an Army base. Unfortunately, her seizures progressed and she was diagnosed as having psychomotor seizures. She says, "The seizures were happening during the day and the night and my auras came in the form of stomach pain."
As opportunities happen, Lu Cindy moved back to California from Germany in 1987. At that time her doctor referred her to Dr. William Sutherling. She vividly remembers, "Upon my first visit with Dr. Sutherling, he asked me if I had ever considered surgery as an option?"
Of course I laughed and looked at him quizzically. Then, I began to think about it. This was the first time I ever had a doctor mention surgery to me before."
After four years of exhausting all available medications and even participating in a drug study, she says, "I got to a point of being tired of my life the way it was and I was finally ready to see it changed."
On June 4, 1991, Lu Cindy Duncan elected to have a right temporal lobectomy and she has been seizure free with Tegretol ever since. Within six months after her surgery, Lu Cindy obtained her first driving license. Now, she's singing and playing the piano at her Church without ever worrying about having another seizure again.
During these past ten years, Lu Cindy lives as an inspiration for others. She says, "The best part about my life is that I'm living independently with a beautiful view of life.
"I remember the peace I felt when I went into surgery. It was an answer to my prayers and the timing, God's timing, was right."
Alex Minassian Is Looking
Forward To Life!
Now that he is finally seizure free, auto mechanic Alex Minassian, has everything to look forward to. Not so long ago, that wasn't the case.
Growing up in Iran, Alex had lived with intractable epilepsy ever since he was in the fourth grade.
For many years his life seemed bleak with no hope of ever working full time or driving the very cars he repaired for his extended family members. Nor was the road toward a cure for his epilepsy an easy one.
When his family moved to the United States, Alex's continuing seizures increased in intensity and frequency over 10 years. During this time, it seemed there was nothing that could control his seizures and hope was eluding him.
Shortly after learning about the Epilepsy and Brain Mapping Program, his aunt, Tamara "Tammy" Arzoo made an appointment to meet with neurologist and EBMP's Medical Director, Dr. William Sutherling. After careful evaluation, Dr. Sutherling felt that the epileptic tissue in Alex's brain resulted from a childhood bout with meningitis.
On May 26, 1998, Alex underwent a three hour surgery, performed by Dr. Adam Mamelak. Through the generous research support of an anonyomous charitable foundation, funds were made available.
Alex's life immediately brightened. He says, "I am so happy to have my life now."
Mrs. Arzoo adds, "We were always afraid Alex would fall and hurt himself. Now, he can go walking by himself as well as cook and clean house by himself without the fear of having a seizure."