Seize: The Story – Austin Beardall
My son Austin, who had been a totally normal baby up to this point, had his first seizure at four months old. What appeared at first to be a hyper-moro reflex turned into him having more than 12 episodes of his whole body jerking and his eyes open and staring in 12 hours, lead us to believe he was really having seizures. The following day an EEG was performed and indeed he was having seizures. We began mediation that for the next two months seemed to control his seizures and then the seizure pattern changed and he began having more of a tonic/clonic-generalized seizure. Most of Austin’s seizures happen when he is going to sleep, during sleep and upon waking up in the morning. Because of this he cannot sleep alone or he would try to get to someone and hurt himself, therefore he has to sleep with a member of our family at all times.
Since four months of age Austin has never been completely controlled and has been on approximately 10 different medications, including ACTH injections daily at nine months old for 30 days, even with all of these we have not been able to help him be completely seizure free. Many of these medications are given together in hopes of control. Currently, Austin takes three different seizure medications and recently had to weaning off of one due to the side effects that caused a severe tremor in his hands, much like that of a Parkinson’s patient, this tremor was preventing him from performing normal tasks such as feeding himself and getting dressed. Austin has had up to as many as 10-15 seizures in a day and currently is having anywhere from 1-8 per day. His seizures typically last around 30sec. to 3 minutes, causing total body shaking, eyes opening staring or eye fluttering, gurgling noises, and sometimes he tries to climb out of bed.
In 2001, Austin had a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) placed. The purpose of the VNS is to stimulate the brain counteracting the electrical impulses that the brain is giving off causing seizures and hoping to stop the seizure from either happening at all or decreasing the severity of the seizure. For Austin the VNS is on a setting called rapid cycle, which means that it is stimulating his brain for 25 seconds than off for 5 seconds than on again continually. The VNS also has the capability to increase the amplitude of the stimulation and stay on for one full minute if a seizure is seen by family, we do this by swiping across his chest with a high powered magnet where the VNS is located. Because, the VNS is ran by a battery it only lasts about 4-5 years requiring a replacement of the battery pack.
So far, Austin has had three surgeries just for his VNS since it was placed in 2001. Austin started showing development delays around the age of two and has continued to have delays throughout his life. He has speech, fine motor, and academic delays; he has been classified as Intellectually Disabled. He is 20 years old and academically functions at about a 4-5 year old and socially about a 12-14 year old. He also has a diagnosis of ADHD and Anxiety, both requiring medications. He also needs medications to help him sleep at night.
Even through all of this Austin is a fun, loving, energetic young man that is loved by all! His favorite thing to do is play his Xbox and he can play just about any game you give him. Austin also participates in special needs sports league and love to play baseball, basketball and soccer. He has lots of friends and it seems like anytime we are out he finds someone he knows. We are so proud of all the accomplishments he has had in his life and look forward to many more!