No Two Alike — Corey’s story

Corey Hammond’s seizures came in 30-second flashes, sending a rushing feeling through his brain as if his blood were pounding in his veins. Hammond, a UF student at the time, didn’t realize he was experiencing seizures.

Corey and his wife, Raina, encourage their daughter, Aila, to pet their horse.

Corey and his wife, Raina, encourage their daughter, Aila, to pet their horse.

A result of a scooter accident a few years earlier, when he was a junior in high school, the seizures worsened over time despite medications prescribed by doctors in his hometown of Melbourne, Florida.

One afternoon years later on a surfing trip with friends, Hammond suffered the worst of these attacks, a grand mal seizure.

“The medication wasn’t working,” said Raina Hammond, Corey’s wife. “I was having to call 9-1-1 a lot. We felt like we were at a crossroads. We had to do something different.”

Corey — now 36 and a stay-at-home dad to 5-year-old daughter Aila — sought treatment at UF Health. Our team of epilepsy experts recommended surgery as a way to not only control the seizures, but also hopefully to reduce the medications Corey would need over time.

“Typically, after a patient has taken two to three medications and nothing is working, we start thinking about surgery for control,” said Jean Cibula, M.D., the UF College of Medicine neurologist who treated Corey. “We want to help patients get control of their seizures so they can live their lives.”

Prior to surgery, Debbra Livingston, M.S.N., ARNP, B.C., a UF Health Shands Epilepsy Surgery Program nurse practitioner, worked with Corey and his family to determine his candidacy for surgery. The team maps out the part of the brain responsible for the seizures. In Corey’s case, initial tests weren’t clear, so physicians took the extra step of implanting electrodes deeper into his brain to ensure they obtained a precise picture of the problem area.

The testing revealed that Corey’s seizures stemmed from the temporal lobe. In May 2013, Steven N. Roper, M.D., UF College of Medicine neurosurgeon and UF Comprehensive Epilepsy Program surgical director, carefully removed a problematic segment.

Two years have passed since Corey’s surgery — and since his last seizure. Livingston now sees Corey with a sense of freedom and peace of mind. “It’s priceless,” she said.

Although the recovery process is slow, Corey can now drive and is back to doing things he loves, like caring for his daughter, cooking and tending to the animals on his family’s farm. Sometimes he has trouble multitasking and finding words, but if the trade-off is being seizure-free, he says the side effects are well worth it.

“It’s like a marathon, a long journey,” he said. “I am glad to be on the other side.”

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