Wendy Bazail, a dedicated nurse at Loma Linda University Health, has a unique connection to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) where she currently works. Her journey began with an epilepsy diagnosis in 2007. Initially fully controlled with medication, Bazail's condition took a turn in 2014, leading to a relapse that ultimately prompted her transition to the care of the chair of neurology, Travis Losey, MD.
While working in a different department, Bazail found herself at a crossroads when her seizures resurfaced, culminating in a car crash during a daytime episode. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of Bazail's journey with Losey, who suggested surgery.
“I was adamant about not getting surgery,” Bazail said. “I also hated the idea of taking medicine forever, so I opened up to the idea of brain surgery and trusted my doctors.”
After monitoring the source of her epilepsy, Losey found it located in the amygdala, the part of the brain controlling emotions, causing Bazail to cry a lot and have easily triggered emotions.
Choosing surgery over persistent medications, Bazail underwent a procedure in June 2016, where chair of neurosurgery, Warren Boling, MD, employed a keyhole approach to address the seizure origin in her right temporal lobe. The surgery aimed to stop Bazail's seizures and enhance her quality of life.
“I was eager to get back to work because I was worried I’d forget how to be a nurse,” Bazail said."
Reflecting on her post-surgery experience, Bazail recalls waking up with minimal pain and swelling. She eagerly resumed her nursing duties after a six-week recovery period, determined to assess the effectiveness of the surgery. Her commitment paid off, and within a year, Bazail was seizure-free and had her driver's license reinstated.
Remarkably, Bazail is now seizure free and six years medication-free, a testament to the success of the surgery. Grateful for her regained independence, she cherishes the ability to drive, a freedom she had temporarily lost during the peak of her epilepsy.
Bazail's unique journey fuels her passion for her current role in the EMU, where she helps patients undergoing monitoring to determine their suitability for surgery. Despite initial reservations about the surgery, Bazail has become an advocate, sharing her story to inspire others facing similar decisions. She emphasizes the importance of seeking surgical options and reassures patients that life can return to normalcy after the procedure.
In her interactions with patients, Bazail exemplifies resilience and serves as a beacon of hope. Her ability to empathize, coupled with her firsthand experience, fosters trust and encouragement among those navigating the challenges of epilepsy.
"Working closely with Wendy on her journey has been truly inspiring. Her resilience, coupled with the success of the surgery, showcases the positive impact that comprehensive care of epilepsy can have on a patient's life,” Losey says. “It is exciting to see her develop into a nursing leader who joins us in caring for other patients with epilepsy. Wendy's story is a testament to the collaborative efforts at Loma Linda University Health, where we prioritize not only the medical aspects but also the overall well-being of our patients."