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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Dave Engledow may be cured of epilepsy

  • Dave Engledow, Pittsburg, has something new to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

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  • Dave Engledow, Pittsburg, has something new to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
    After undergoing extensive testing and risky brain surgery, he just might be cured of epilepsy. At any rate, he hasn’t experienced a seizure since having the operation on Oct. 13 at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
    They had been with him since childhood. Epilepsy can have many causes, including birth defects, infections in the brain and traumatic injuries to the brain at any age. Engledow said that his was probably caused by hitting his head in a fall.
     “My brother says that I fell and hit the concrete sidewalk when I was 6 or 7,” he said.  “When I was in school I’d hide behind trash cans when I had a seizure because people laugh at you. I don’t have to deal with that now.”
    Engledow is grateful to his surgeon, Darren S. Lovick, MD, assistant professor at the KU Medical Center.
    “He called me his little guinea pig,” Engledow said.
    His wife, Pat, much prefers to call him a pioneer.
     “They went in and took out a piece of the lobe, a tiny piece where the seizures initiate,” Mrs. Engledow said.
    It took tests to pinpoint the piece that needed to be removed.
    “They cut two holes in the back of my head for probes,” Engledow said. “They took away all my medications that stop seizures.”
    Hospital staff also wouldn’t let him have any blankets or sheets when he slept because they wanted to be able to observe any seizures he had.
    The problem site was located, and Engledow, his head shaved, was wheeled into surgery at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 13.
    “He was in surgery between four and five hours,” Mrs. Engledow said.
    “They took out a piece of tissue about the size of a silver dollar on the left side of my brain,” her husband said. “I was in ICU for three days, at the KU Medical Center for 2 1/2 weeks and then they let me go to Girard Medical Center and Dr. Ron Edwards took over.  It was a rough trip.”
    “He was in a lot of pain after the surgery, and conked out on medication,” Mrs. Engledow said. “They’d check his orientation status, and ask him things like what his name was, where he was, why he was there, who’s president. Sometimes he got the answers right and sometimes he didn’t.”
    The rough trip isn’t quite over yet. There are still some after effects from the surgery.
    “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is some issue with remembering certain words and names,” Mrs. Engledow said. “At the hospital they said this would improve with time, as the other side of the brain takes over for what’s missing.”
    Page 2 of 2 - She’s already seeing improvements.
    “His humor and joking are back, and they weren’t there right after the surgery,” Mrs. Engledow said. “When he had the probes in his head his demeanor was very different. He was cranky with everybody, and one of my big worries was that when he had the surgery he would be like that permanently. I didn’t want to trade this guy for Mr. Crab.”
    She said that her husband is gaining strength daily, which is good but also causes some problems.
    “We have to keep on his case to keep him from bending over and doing things he normally could do but can’t do right now,” Mrs. Engledow said.
    “I tried bending over and started to have an aura like I’d have before a seizure,” Engledow said.
    “I don’t think picking up something off the floor is worth undoing what we’ve worked for two years and you going back to having seizures,” his wife replied. “And remember that this is very temporary.”
    Right now Engledow is doing physical therapy, and said he’s troubled by a weakness in his left hand.  His surgeon has told him to come back to the medical center for an MRI and spinal studies.
    “There’s a doctor who cares about his people,” Engledow said. “I’d recommend him to anybody, and also Dr. Edwards and the people at Girard Medical Center.”
    He’s bored, but occasionally takes his wife’s wheelchair and sits on the sidewalk to watch cars go by. He hopes he’ll be driving again soon.
    “One of the doctors said that if everything goes all right, in six months I’ll be able to get a driver’s license again,” Engledow said.
    “I think it’s just shy of 20 years since the last time he had a license,” Mrs. Engledow said.
    After he’s back on his feet,  her husband plans to resume having meetings of the Southeast Kansas Epilepsy Support Group, which he founded and leads. He’s been talking with Danielle Walk, program director for the Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas, and wants to educate the public about epilepsy. Engledow doesn’t want people to laugh at those with epilepsy; he does want everyone to know how to respond if a student, classmate or bystander suffers a seizure,
    He’s also on a crusade for safer sidewalks in Pittsburg for those in wheelchairs or suffering mobility issues, and would like it if the PACT bus started making stops at the Besse Hotel again.
    “I’m just trying to figure out how to do right for other people,” he said.
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