All posts by Mike

A long day for Kevin (and the family)

kevin_surgery_trio

It started out like any other day. Up at 5:30am, quick shower, drive Kevin to Kaiser for brain surgery. That’s pretty typical, right? Thought so.

Seriously, there’s not much worth getting up that early for, other than having to catch an early flight to someplace REALLY special (and even then I’d spend a fair number of $$$ more to catch a later flight) or maybe having to drive a couple hours to a bike century. Maybe. In general, I’d try to find a hotel closer so I could get an extra hour of sleep.┬áBut it’s not every day you get to have your skull sawed open, get 80 electrodes placed directly on top of your brain, seal it back up and then settle in for a painful week at the hospital.

Why would anyone do that? In Kevin’s case, it’s an opportunity to try and reduce the severity, maybe eliminate entirely, his epilepsy seizures. The process is so simple! Do what I described above, slowly withdraw the meds that try to control his seizures, then massively document the brain activity associated with the seizures that ensue. After a week of this, the data is analyzed and a decision made to either replace, er, I mean, remove the tiny part of the brain that’s sending out the seizure signals (which is hopefully identified by all those electrodes) or implant an electronic gadget that analyzes, in real time, brain wave data. When it detects a seizure about to start, it creates an anti-seizure to stop it in its tracks.

The procedures aren’t terribly risky, but it’s still quite an investment in time (a month off the bike and away from work) and money (even with insurance, the co-pays are going to add up). But considering what’s involved, any co-pay is pretty insignificant and one really has to consider how fortunate Kevin is to be born into a family that can afford insurance and the other costs involved.

“The Last Breakfast”- Kevin’s pre-brain-surgery ride

Kevin leading out the train on West Old LaHonda this morning, his last bike ride for a month.
Kevin leading out the train on West Old LaHonda this morning, his last bike ride for a month.
Kevin, bottom left, enjoying his breakfast at Alice's.
Kevin, bottom left, enjoying his breakfast at Alice’s.

It’s going to be an interesting month coming up, as Kevin goes through what will hopefully be a life-changing brain surgery to reduce or possibly even eliminate his epilepsy. At his request, today’s ride was a “breakfast ride” where we stop at Alices (Sky L’onda) before heading back down the hill.

Good turnout today; Eric, Karl, Karen, JR, Scotty, Kevin (pilot) all there to send Kevin off. Everyone took it pretty easy up Kings; I could even have brief conversations without being winded! Still a bit on the cool side (mid 40s) but today we were smart enough to bring our long-fingered gloves. Much less wind, fewer clouds, dryer roads.

Kevin (Pilot) with his favorite drink, Diet Coke. Might taste OK but apparently not a hair tonic.
Kevin (Pilot) with his favorite drink, Diet Coke. Might taste OK but apparently not a hair tonic.

The plan (remember, there’s always a plan) is an early-morning surgery in which a “grid” is placed over part of Kevin’s brain, which will map where he seizures come from. He’ll have his medication gradually reduced so his seizures become more frequent, and after a number of days, they’ll make the decision to either surgically repair (actually, remove) the part of his brain that’s causing the seizures, or implant this gadget called a “Neuropace” that “listens” for signs of an upcoming seizure and sends an electrical impulse that blocks it. It’s part of a long process that can take up to two years to determine how well it’s working.

But for the next month, don’t look for Kevin on the roads. You may find him on Strava though, as he has a Tacx Elite trainer that he’ll try to stay in shape on, once he’s home.