My Nephew and his Brain, Part 2 – Revealed to be Complicated

Continued from Part 1. After we had arrived at the new hospital and my nephew had been placed into the Pediatric ICU (PICU), the doctors started running more tests, and in conjunction with what the ER doctor had found out, my nephew was diagnosed with a seizure disorder or, as it is more commonly known, epilepsy. Epilepsy is defined as a “brain disorder characterized predominantly by recurrent and unpredictable interruptions of normal brain function” and in most cases, this interruption is caused by either an over-excitation or under-excitation of the neurons in the brain. After electroencephalography (EEG) was performed and analyzed, this aberrant electrical brain activity was what appeared to be happening to my nephew, so the doctors began to prescribe medications that are typically given to children with seizure disorders. The problem with my nephew, however, was that from the MRI that had been performed on him at this point, it was evident that there was significant brain malformation in his right hemisphere, and these medications would only be treating the symptoms and not the cause. In spite of this, though, the medications met with some success in controlling the seizures, and after a few days to make sure that my four-month old nephew was receiving the proper dose for his small self and was tolerating his medications, he was sent home.

Things went well for a couple of days, but then the seizures returned, and this time, more alarmingly, they intensified and caused my nephew to stop breathing. My sister and her husband rushed him back to the hospital, and after another few days in the hospital, it was decided that due to his seizure activity and the underlying brain malformation that my nephew needed more sophisticated and specialized care than he could receive at the hospital he was currently admitted to. After some calling around to various area hospitals and medical centers, the doctors finally found a place for him at a local university hospital that fortunately for us and my nephew is one of the most-highly ranked hospitals in the nation for the quality of its care and the quality of its doctors. He was transferred to this hospital, and in doing so gained several world-class pediatric neurologists who would now be focused on trying to alleviate his seizure condition caused by his complicated brain. We were very hopeful, and now it was up to these doctors to help my nephew.

Editor’s note: this the second of a four-part series offered by Flummerfelt. For the remainder of this week, each day we will reveal parts three and four. Read part one.


Fisher RS, van Emde Boas W, Blume W, Elger C, Genton P, Lee P, & Engel J Jr (2005). Epileptic seizures and epilepsy: definitions proposed by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) and the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE). Epilepsia, 46 (4), 470-2 PMID: 15816939

Karen Flummerfelt, MS

Karen Flummerfelt, MS, has been a lab instructor in microbiology at UCLA for the past four years with a nephew who is a neurological marvel. Currently, she is a lab instructor for UCLA Extension and an online faculty member at the University of Phoenix. She holds a master's degree in Microbiology from UCLA.
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