One Woman's Struggle to Live in a World With Music


"It's something really hard to live with," Gayle said. "I remember … coming down the stairs and someone outside was playing that music loud in a car and I remember falling down the stairs, and that's it."

Unable to walk down the street, go shopping, eat in a restaurant, ride the subway, drive a car or do anything where she might hear a song playing, 24-year-old Gayle had no choice: she quit school, her job, and stopped going to church and singing in her beloved choir.

Gayle was a prisoner in her own home. Even her TV became a danger.

"She could be watching like a movie and if it has music and she doesn't realize it's coming on, she would pass out," said Gayle's mom, Marhlan Nelson.

Unusual Treatment

Gayle began to become depressed, and considered suicide.

"Everything that I love was taken away," she said. "Everywhere there's music going on."

In the midst of the dark moments came a new danger. Doctors told Gayle that if they couldn't find a way to control her seizures, she could suddenly have a heart attack.

"When people have seizures over and over again, and you can't get them under control, there's a risk of, of dying from the epilepsy," Dr. Mehta said.

An unusual case of epilepsy, Dr. Mehta decided, required an unusual treatment: brain surgery. If they could take out the part of the brain where the seizures were originating, Gayle might be seizure-free.

"What we found is, there was a little island of activity, shown in light blue, where there was in fact a little more increased activity," said Dr. Mehta, pointing to an image of Gayle's brain. "And that leads us to think that that's where the focus was."

The doctors also found another area where they thought the seizures were coming from – that was the part they needed to remove.

It was a risky surgery. Stacey would only be the fourth known patient to undergo the operation. Doctors would remove about a half dollar sized chunk of Gayle's brain. Frightened, at first Gayle and her mom said they didn't want to do it. But after looking at her now empty life, both decided it was a risk she had to take.

Road to Recovery

Today, five months later, Gayle said she hasn't had any seizures. "Every day — every day living seizure-free is like another day, is a cure for me," she said.

For the first time in five years, Gayle could listen to music, without seizures. She was nervous the first time she played music to test and see if the surgery had worked.

"I decided that I really had to do it. So yes, I didn't have a seizure, so I was so happy.

Now Gayle feels good when she enters a story, lobby or an elevator and hears music.

"I go in the store and smile and they just be thinking I'm crazy," Gayle said. "It feels good to be back, back in school, back in church … you know, get my life back on track finally."

Click HERE to visit the Epilepsy Foundation Web site, and learn more about the disease.

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