Used to be, Joan Belcher of Meshoppen had to be with someone at all times.
She couldn't drive, couldn't do anything alone, and depended completely on her family.
"I didn't know when the seizures were coming on."
"I would be very tired, didn't know where I was. At the end of the seizure I'd feel like I was coming out of a tunnel."
Joan had a form of epilepsy and was having at least 2-3 seizures per month. Sometimes weekly.
She enlisted the help of her own personal dream team at Geisinger Wyoming Valley near Wilkes-Barre.
Neurologist Dr. Carol Ulloa put Joan through a series of testing and scans, until she pinpointed a problem in the right temporal lobe of her brain, and recommended surgery.
Risky, but in Joan's case, the right option after so many medications had failed.
"The benefits? One is about a 75% chance of seizure freedom. Another is possibly being able to lower medications or come off of them."
It was Dr. Joseph Emrich's job to operate. The neurosurgeon suspected that scar tissue, perhaps from an accident several years ago, was to blame for the condition.
He was right.
"Her seizures could be pinpointed to a specific area of the brain that, if we remove that area with surgery, we could stop the seizures."
Which is exactly what they did. This month. Carol is one year seizure free.
"She was also able to go to her granddaughter's dance recital- which she couldn't do before because the lights would trigger seizure. She was happy to do that."
And even happer. That she has her freedom back. Not to mention her driver's license.
"Oh my goodness! I have my independence. I'm driving, I can be by myself. It's just unbelievable. I feel like a different person."