Mom with epilepsy is seizure-free after brain surgery five years ago

The fall marks a new school year and a new season. For Lisa Martin of Mission, it’s the opportunity to do things she never thought she could do.

Lisa Martin shares her passion for gardening with daughter Laura at their Mission home.

Lisa Martin shares her passion for gardening with daughter Laura at their Mission home.

The fall marks a new school year and a new season.

For Lisa Martin of Mission, it’s the opportunity to do things she never thought she could do.

Martin, 51, struggled with right frontal lobe epilepsy for more than 40 years, but this Aug. 17 marked the fifth year she has been seizure-free.

Following brain surgery in 2006 – two years after being officially diagnosed – Martin is now able to do things that would have previously given her pause.

She just recently went camping with 400 Girl Guides.

“I spent a wonderful weekend out in 30 (kilometre) winds and some rain, having a blast,” Martin says with a smile.

Given a 99 per cent guarantee that removing her right frontal lobe would stop the episodes, Martin made the hard decision to proceed. Before surgery, she was at risk of having 25 or more seizures a day – each one accompanied with searing stomach pain.

While Martin still gets the auras – brief moments resembling deja vu – she can go on with her day, no longer plagued with the possibility of seizing.

As a child, experiencing the deja vu, Martin would yell to her mother, “I’ve done this before!  I’ve done this before!”

Her mom would just stare in confusion, not knowing that her daughter was having a seizure.

And her condition remained a mystery for many years. Martin didn’t have the typical symptoms of losing consciousness and body spasms that suggest epilepsy.

Her diagnosis was a chance of fate.Martin’s oldest daughter Krystal, 21, was born with bronchial asthma.

One day, while at a specialist, Martin had a seizure. Sensing the difference in her demeanor, the doctor asked the young mother about her condition.

Having a nephew who was officially diagnosed with the condition, the doctor was able to recognize the condition – right frontal lobe epilepsy.

Two years later, in 2004, Martin was told that she was a perfect candidate for surgery.

Although the procedure left her seizure-free, Martin is still recuperating. The most significant side-effect has been a loss of memory.

In the months following the operation, Martin would have no recollection of something told to her just moments prior.

To this day, Martin’s family leaves notes on the stove, detailing their whereabouts.

Martin laughs and says she thinks she is now able to remember things nine times out of 10, but adds that her family might not agree, glancing at her 17-year-old daughter Laura.

It’s this positive, light-hearted attitude that has brought her through the ordeal.

And even though her condition has come with many obstacles, she is still eager to inform others about epilepsy.

“A lot of people hide it, because they don’t want the kind of reaction they get,” Martin says.

She’s experienced that first-hand.Finding employment was often hard.

In one job interview, after mentioning her condition, the  employer said she would not be hired because she had epilepsy.

Her story is only one of many she’s heard – mainly from fellow members of the Centre for Epilepsy and Seizure Education in Abbotsford.

Martin credits part of her success in finding a job to the staff at the centre, who are always more than willing to talk to prospective employers in order to deconstruct the stigma.

Growing up with her mom and now having a best friend with epilepsy, Laura says she has also encountered many misconceptions of the condition.

“People hear the word and they think the worst. But it doesn’t have to take over your life.  You can work around it and still live life like everyone else.”

Martin hopes awareness about epilepsy grows.

“I’m not afraid to talk about it. The only way you are going to get it out there is to talk about it.”

The annual awareness day for epilepsy, Purple Day, is March 26.  For more information, visit www.epilepsy.cc

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 20

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Most Read