Pickerington Times-Sun

Surgery was game-changer for woman battling seizures

By MICHAEL HAYES
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For Rachel Kreidler, everyday is Mother's Day.

To understand why that statement isn't merely idle sentiment, one would have to go back to February 2011 when the Pickerington mom stood anxiously at a crossroads.

Years of debilitating epileptic seizures had taken their toll, draining Kreidler's energy and sapping her strength.

She couldn't drive and stayed tethered to her house for days on end.

Her seizures enveloped her in anxiety. She drooled, lost track of time and was nauseous.

With episodes occurring every week, her condition made it increasingly difficult to care for her two small children, Hannahand Jacob, ages 4 and 2, respectively.

"It was rough," Kreidler said.

"Even though I was still able to function in many ways as a wife, mother and at work, ultimately I wanted my health back," she said.

The seizures, officially diagnosed a decade ago, didn't take away Kreidler's resolve.

An innovative procedure at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic offered hope.

"I tried many medicines over the years, none worked for me," Kreidler said.

"A local neurologist introduced the idea of surgery. It took several years for me to come to a place of comfort," she said.

The procedure involved the removal of a piece of Kreidler's brain, specifically her left temporal lobe.

"A detailed evaluation at (the) Cleveland Clinic pinpointed the spot in her brain that these seizures were coming from, and the MRI confirmed that the cause was hippocampal sclerosis (scar tissue in that part of the brain) controlling memory and language function," said Dr. Lara Jehi of the Cleveland Clinic Epilepsy Center.

"I went into the hospital and they cut into my skull and brain," Kreidler said.

"I was in the hospital for three days and then came home and had a very long recovery period. It was six months before I felt like myself again," she said.

Jehi considers Kreidler's "lobectomy" to be a resounding success.

"She has been seizure-free since," Jehi said, "and she is doing extremely well."

Kreidler credits her family, particularly husband Eric, her friends and her faith with helping her get through the difficult recovery period.

"My recovery was very challenging," she said.

"My kids were active and boisterous, but I was exhausted most of the time."

Yet she got through it. Kreidler is now able to drive, and able to be the mother she always longed to be.

She was even able to go on a two-week mission trip last July to Zambia with her church, ministering to others in need.

"It was huge to be able to have the physical stamina to do a trip like that," she said.

These days Kreidler is mostly a stay-at-home mom while performing the occasional contract work as an occupational therapist.

Her focus now centers on chauffeuring Hannah to her softball games and Jacob to T-ball.

"My mother-in-law said I'm a walking miracle," Kreidler said.

"I would agree with that. It's truly a miracle to go from a place with such significant health challenges to where I'm at now," she said.

Kreidler said she hopes her story can be an encouragement to other mothers facing chronic health challenges to never give up.

"There is hope out there," she said.

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