Device Helps Scott Depot Woman Lead Seizure-Free Life
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Apr. 14, 2013 6:32 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 15, 2013 1:51 AM EDT
Scott Depot , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A woman in Scott Depot who was once crippled by seizures is now living a full seizure-free life with the help of an implanted device.
In hopes of helping others with the same debilitating diagnosis, she wanted to share her story.
Elizabeth Haught was only a few months old when she started having seizures.
"It was just real difficult,” Haught said. “My life was real difficult before."
Elizabeth is one of more than 2 million Americans living with epilepsy. Dr. Ijaz Ahmad treats many patients with neurological disorders, including Elizabeth, and said seizures are debilitating in countless ways.
"A person doesn't know when they are going to have the next one, how bad it is going to be, it affects their social life, their education,” Ahmad said. “It affects their family life, plus the expense of treating these conditions is quite enormous not only financial but social psychological."
At her peak, Elizabeth was having 50 to 100 seizures a day, and was in and out of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and on a different medication about every year until her mid-teens.
"She was really in lala land,” Elizabeth’s mom, Leigh Haught, said. "It hindered her development, her education, her social activities - everything that children her age should be doing she wasn't."
After finding out she was not a good candidate for brain surgery, Elizabeth and her family decided to go a different route. Ten years ago, she had a VNS implant, or vagus nerve stimulation therapy, surgically put in.
It's a pacemaker-like device for the brain.
"It stopped the seizures dead in its tracks," Elizabeth Haught said.
She said it changed nearly everything about her life.
"I could actually get out and do things,” she said. “I did soccer. I did track."
Now, she can hold a job and is even learning how to drive.
"It's been great,” she said. “It's been absolutely awesome. I like to be able to travel, and I like to make necklaces just do all kinds of things I wasn't able to do before."
Elizabeth Haught gets the device checked every few months, and she's decreased her medication from 28 pills a day to a more manageable six.
"It has been a steady progress at least in my lifetime how the technology has evolved,” Ahmad said.
Elizabeth and her mom are hoping to visit Israel together one day soon.