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October 30-2019 | Lauren Mabry

lauren Mabry 1 300x225 - After 25 Years, a Proper Diagnosis-Autoimmune Encephalitis!In 1994 when I was 9 years old I was diagnosed with Epilepsy with partial complex seizures after my mom witnessed a bizarre event where my arm jerked wildly and I fell to the ground. These events occurred multiple times and I underwent EEG testing, MRI, and all the tests came back normal. We tried a few anti-epileptic drugs and eventually found one that seemed to stop the episodes. Fast-forward a few years and I started to have breakthrough seizures…

This became the routine: find a drug that worked, maybe have a breakthrough seizure, up the dose, breakthrough, worry about having a breakthrough, or maybe go years and be fine.Things were challenging for me off and on throughout college as I seemed to be unable to stabilize my episodes for a year or two. And then I was fine for many years up until I was told I had to switch medication to get pregnant and so I did. I switched to the “safest’ medication and things seemed to be fine until about halfway through my pregnancy with my first son in 2015 and then things went haywire. I suffered these partial seizures every ten minutes. I hardly slept. I had to go on short term disability from my job at 5 months pregnant. I could barely speak. Eventually things semi-stabilized.

The goal was always to go back on Topamax, the drug I had been on before my pregnancies as it had been working, but when I finally switched back to this drug in November 2018 my body appeared to just reject it and instead I just started to have multiple episodes per day. My doctor. sent me to the hospital for inpatient video EEG monitoring. I was in the hospital for about 3.5 days where I had 87 episodes. I barely slept.

On the last day in the hospital my doctor took bloodwork for an autoimmune panel. It was the last thing we did while I was in the hospital and at the time I barely thought anything of it. At my follow-up appointment my neurologist told me I have autoimmune encephalitis – my brain is on fire. We did a round of prednisone steroids where I could literally feel my brain cooling down. Within a couple of days of being on the prednisone my seizures that I had experienced multiple times a day for 4 years stopped completely.  We followed up the oral prednisone with IV Solu-Medrol and it’s now been 8 months and I’m still seizure free AND off my anti-epileptic medications.

Autoimmune encephalitis is still a very new disease in its infancy of research. It wasn’t even discovered and published until almost 12 years after my initial diagnosis of epilepsy. I saw neurologists in VA, at Johns Hopkins, and UCLA over the years and it wasn’t until I moved to Pittsburgh, PA that I was finally properly diagnosed.  I don’t say this to place blame on any of my previous doctors, but to raise awareness that it can save your life to get a second or even third opinion about what is going on in your body.

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Our website is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice. Nothing contained on our website is intended to be used as medical advice. No content is intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice. Although THE INTERNATIONAL AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS SOCIETY  provides a great deal of information about AUTOIMMUNE ENCEPHALITIS, all content is provided for informational purposes only. The International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society  cannot provide medical advice.

International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society is a charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2016 by Tabitha Andrews Orth, Gene Desotell and Anji Hogan-Fesler. Tax ID# 81-3752344. Donations raised directly supports research, patients, families and caregivers impacted by autoimmune encephalitis and to educating healthcare communities around the world. Financial statement will be made available upon request.

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