Health problems can come out of nowhere, and that’s something 13-year-old Taylor Hermeling knows all too well. One day she was fine, the next she unexpectedly fell in the shower. Knowing something was off, Taylor immediately called her mother, Melissa. “We really thought it was dehydration or something like that,” Melissa said.
To be safe, Taylor went to see her pediatrician, but everything seemed to be fine. A few days later, however, Taylor had a seizure. It was mild, but obviously out of the ordinary. Another trip to the pediatrician’s office ended with an MRI and EEG, and Taylor was diagnosed with cavernous malformations or cavernoma – an abnormal cluster of blood vessels in the brain. An initial visit to Children’s of Alabama calmed the family’s worries, and a neurologist closer to home in south Alabama prescribed Taylor a seizure medication. “But nothing really changed,” Melissa said. “Taylor was still having numerous seizures every day.”
Taylor’s seizure medication was increased, but the seizures didn’t stop. Frustrated and more worried than ever, the family returned to Children’s of Alabama. After monitoring Taylor’s seizures, pediatric neurologist Dr. Monisha Goyal and pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Brandon Rocque agreed that surgery was needed to remove the cavernoma. “The surgery went really well,” Melissa said. “The doctors felt they got everything, and they even tested the area to confirm there was no activity.”
Taylor was discharged home after just three days, but eventually the seizures, more mild in nature, returned. “They weren’t major, but she was having sometimes 40 of them a day,” Melissa said. “They were so frequent that she couldn’t do anything because she was constantly dealing with it.”
Another return trip to Children’s of Alabama for more monitoring showed something was going on. To best pinpoint where the episodes were coming from, doctors suggested putting a grid in Taylor’s brain to map the seizures she was experiencing. “They inserted the grid and monitored her for two days,” Melissa said. “After that, they felt they had enough activity to go back in again and remove the spot causing the irritation.”
The next day, Taylor underwent her second surgery. Doctors removed the grid and the spot on her brain that caused her episodes. “Since that surgery, she has thankfully not had a single seizure,” Melissa said.
Taylor continues to get periodic EEGs and remains on seizure medication; she will be until doctors are certain there is no more chance of seizures. In the meantime, Taylor is glad to be back in school and performing in the marching band. She’s hoping return to volleyball soon. “The staff at Children’s is amazing,” Melissa said. “The entire team is wonderful. I don’t know what Taylor or we would have done throughout this process if it wasn’t for them.”