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Tayler
On VNS Therapy
since 2011

Real People. Real Stories.

VNS Therapy changes lives every day. Hear from real people living with VNS Therapy.

Many people experience

life-changing seizure control with VNS Therapy. 

Watch real people share their results and experiences with VNS Therapy.

Read testimonials from people living with VNS Therapy.

    • William's Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2001

      "I am finally able to better control my seizures."

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      William’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2001

       

      During a routine visit to my neurologist, he told me about a treatment method called Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy, or VNS Therapy, and suggested I look into it. Since medication alone could not control my seizures, he told me that VNS Therapy might help.

       

       

      My parents and I had been trying to find the right treatment since I started having seizures when I was 11 years old. I had been on at least 12 medications and undergone two brain surgeries, but I had continued having seizures.

      My doctor explained that VNS Therapy involved an outpatient procedure where a device would be put in my chest. Since I had a great deal of trust in my neurologist, hearing about VNS Therapy from him gave me the confidence that it might help me.

      When I got back home, I went online and did some more research on VNS Therapy. To me, it seemed kind of cool. Even though there was a potential for side effects, like hoarseness, a change in my voice tone, and coughing, to me the potential benefits outweighed the risks. I talked with my neurologist about it some more, and he answered any other concerns I had. After that, I decided to go forward.

      The procedure to implant VNS Therapy was a success. Once the incisions had healed, I went to the doctor and after adjusting the settings, we found the right settings for me. Now, along with taking my medication, I am finally able to better control my seizures.

      Before VNS Therapy, my seizures came in clusters. I would go two to three weeks without a seizure, and then I’d have one or two seizures a day over a two to four day time span. Now when I feel a breakthrough seizure coming on, I can hold the magnet over my VNS Therapy device for a few seconds, and I can feel it giving me an extra dose of stimulation. Pretty soon it usually stops the seizure.

      I often tell people, and remind myself at times, that life is like a poker game. It’s not the cards you’re dealt that matter; what matters is how you play them. Online support groups have been helpful to me. We share and compare notes on how we handled our seizures, the different treatments we are on and how well they worked for us, and we are each other’s shoulder to lean on if one of us is going through a tough time.

      Today, the future looks promising. Thanks to VNS Therapy, I have better control over my seizures than I did before, and a much better outlook on life. I have a Bachelor’s in Business IT, and even though there aren’t very many job opportunities where I live that I can apply that degree, I’m working on certifications in various computer programs. For the time being, I work with my father on a family-owned farm.

      For those of you who have epilepsy, don’t give up in your battle to control it. Jerry Kill, the former head football coach at the University of Minnesota, who has epilepsy, said it best. “Seizures are like fumbles. They come when you least expect them. They may be a temporary setback. But they can’t stop you from playing to win.”

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Andres’ Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2014

      "VNS Therapy allows me to provide my son a new kind of control for his seizures."

      Mari, Andres' mother

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      Andres’ Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2014

       

      I heard about VNS Therapy when I was a junior in high school. After lots of testing, my parents and I learned that I wasn’t a candidate for brain surgery, and we really didn’t want to keep increasing my medications. My seizures were getting stronger, and I had started to doubt whether I would be able to go to college and live on my own. VNS Therapy seemed like a good option for me. Fortunately, it was. After VNS Therapy, my episodes definitely decreased, and the seizures I did have were less severe. In addition, I was able to cut down to only two medications. My only side effect was occasional hoarseness, but that has improved over time.

       

       

      I was in middle school before I learned that I had epilepsy. It was a few days before Christmas, and my family was waiting for relatives to arrive at our home for the holidays. I was an excited 6th grader, so as soon as the doorbell rang, I jumped up to welcome my relatives. Suddenly, I realized something was off. My head felt funny and my arm was wildly convulsing out of control. I turned to my parents. “What’s wrong with my arm?” I asked.

      Eventually, I discovered that I had a seizure as a newborn, but it was treated with medication, and I had not suffered another seizure for years. But now that I was a middle-schooler, I suddenly began having seizures on a weekly basis. They usually happened at night. The seizures would wake me up, and I would basically lose control of one side of my body.

      I began taking a number of medications to help with the seizures, but there were a lot of side effects. I had always been a really happy kid, but my parents noticed the medications were making me act aggressive and anxious. I also felt depressed since I was struggling with schoolwork; the medications made me more forgetful. Over the years, it seemed like my self-esteem definitely decreased because I was even having a hard time in athletics, something I had always been good at.

      Fortunately, I had a coach who really backed me up. He helped modify my activities so that I could continue to be a part of the cross-country running team. In addition to my family, it was good to know my coach and teammates had my back.

      I’m happy to report that I am now a freshman in college in California, where I live on campus and am doing really well in school. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to try VNS Therapy. I feel more confident now, and my parents believe that VNS Therapy has provided me with a new kind of control for my seizures. What is my advice for others considering VNS Therapy? Just do it. It may help you like it did for me."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Anna’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2002

      "I feel confident, happy, and most importantly, in control of my life."

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      Anna’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2002

      My parents saw an ad in the newspaper for a local presentation on VNS Therapy. We spoke with my neurologist about it and he thought I was a good candidate. I had started having seizures in the 7th grade, and I hadn’t had much success with antiepileptic drugs. I was scared to try something new, but hopeful.

      One of my biggest concerns was how VNS Therapy would affect my voice. I’ve always loved choir. One year in high school, I was a part of five choirs, and during my junior year, one choir had the opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall. That was an exciting moment, and something that wouldn’t have been worth compromising. But hearing good things about VNS Therapy and knowing that my own neurologist was able to do the procedure for me, I decided to try it. I started VNS Therapy just days before the start of my junior year.

      The procedure went smoothly, but since it was late afternoon they decided to keep me overnight just to keep an eye on me. I went home first thing the next morning, and a few days later I was able to attend the first day of school, just like everyone else.

      When I first began VNS Therapy, it was definitely a different feeling. It’s like a tightening in my throat that is not so much uncomfortable as it is just...there. It’s absolutely something I got used to over time.

      My neurologist and I had to adjust how often the stimulation went off, but within months I was able to start decreasing the dosage of my antiepileptic drug. I went from having seizures every three to six weeks, to having just a few a year. I once went over a year without a single seizure.

      One of the beauties about VNS Therapy is that with placement of the magnet, I have control over the stimulation and can turn VNS Therapy off. I sometimes turn it off for a choir performance, even though most people would never realize a change in my voice. My family has also seen the benefits of using the magnet when they’ve been around during a seizure. Having never been on the other side, I can only imagine how good it must feel to actually be able to offer some help to someone experiencing a seizure.

      In 2011, I had my VNS Therapy device replaced when it needed a new battery, and I can say that this one is working just as well as my last one. Having just a few seizures a year, I was able to get my college degree and I have been a math teacher for the past four years. I still love to sing and was recently accepted into my local chamber choir. I feel confident, happy, and most importantly, in control of my life.

      While I am still learning to accept that I have seizures, I am proud to say that I no longer worry about being “normal.” After teaching high school for four years, and now working with junior high students, I know there is no such thing as “normal.” I am happy to say that I am leading the life I set out to live. I absolutely love working with the next generation, and I love having the opportunity every day to work with kids going through a hard part of life. I try to remind my kids frequently that we don’t always know what someone is going through outside of school, and the best thing we can do is offer compassion.

      I wouldn’t have made it where I am today without the compassion of those around me, especially my parents and friends. Knowing how important that support has been, I’ve always wanted to reach out to others dealing with epilepsy. For those of you seeking better seizure control, I would like to say, you are not alone: there is hope. And hope comes from exploring your options and not quitting until you find the right solution for you. You’re on the right track. My family and I were in your seat years ago, learning about VNS Therapy for the first time. I hope that you take the next step to talk your doctor about whether VNS Therapy is right for you."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Brenda’s Story

      Caregiver whose husband has been on VNS Therapy since 2008

      "He was getting a grip on the epilepsy rather than the other way around."

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      Brenda’s Story

      Caregiver whose husband has been on VNS Therapy since 2008

      VNS Therapy changed my life.

       

      When I met the man who would become my husband, I didn’t know that one day I would be a care partner to the love of my life. Aaron had already been through more heartache than most people experience in their lifetime, but he never gave up. And, although he had a number of medical conditions, it was epilepsy that had cost him so dearly. In the past, his first wife left him and took their daughter to another country, never to return. He also lost his career in the military as a direct result of his seizures.

      But in a way, I was the perfect fit for Aaron because I was brought up to face challenges head-on.

      Aaron’s epilepsy was very resistant to medication, and as time passed, the number of seizures he was having increased, to the point that he was afraid to leave the house. When I left for work in the morning, I never knew what I would be coming home to at the end of my work day. Would Aaron be up working on one of his projects, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen, or would I find him lying on the floor with a huge knot on his head as the result of a seizure? I decided I would learn everything I could about epilepsy so that I would be able to help him. So, I searched online, I went to the doctor appointments with Aaron and asked his doctors questions. I’m the type of person that when I want to learn about something, I don’t let anything stand in my way. I want answers!

      Despite the fact that Aaron was on medications that were meant to control his seizures, they weren’t working well, and although I kept on in my quest to learn as much as I could about epilepsy, the medical terms were all so hard to understand, and there was so much information to process. Fortunately, we met a neurologist who told us about VNS Therapy. He told us how it worked, that it was a procedure that for most people was done on an outpatient basis, and that it was not another drug. Aaron was ready to jump on board.

      After he started VNS Therapy, Aaron went back to the doctor a number of times so that they could get the settings adjusted for his individual needs. We did see results very quickly, and over time, he has continued to improve. I noticed that it was like he was getting a grip on the epilepsy rather than the other way around. He was more confident, and he was able to go outside and not be stuck in the house. If Aaron feels an aura, or if I notice he’s having a seizure, he or I will use the magnet. He comes out of the seizure right away, and he’s not as disoriented as he used to be after a seizure.

      VNS Therapy has changed my life. VNS Therapy has been great because I don’t have the same concerns about Aaron falling, like he frequently did in the past. Now, he can continue where he left off in a conversation, which wasn’t possible for him before VNS Therapy. He has also been able to reduce the amount of anti-epileptic drugs, and that’s been great.

      Because I travel with my job, I can now leave without worrying about Aaron because he’s very independent now. That being said, I still never know what I’ll be coming home to. A few years ago, Aaron took up gardening and over time, he was able to create a new hybrid lily, which he named for me. He’s given me so many reasons to look forward to the future, and one more to celebrate springtime!"

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Casey’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2006

      "I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life."

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      Casey’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2006

       

      VNS Therapy helped bring my seizures under better control, and I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life.

       

      But, that’s not how I felt when I began my battle with epilepsy. I had my first seizure at 17 years old. I was my high school’s starting quarterback, an honor student and a competitive speaker throughout the U.S. I definitely felt like I was on the fast track to success. But when I had that first seizure on the football field, with all my friends and family and a college recruiter watching, my dream life was suddenly brought to a halt. It took just one seizure and less than three minutes to change everything.

      At the worst point, I had over 20 seizures in one day and was rushed by jet to a hospital in another city. I had several brain surgeries there, and after the fourth surgery, it came to a point where I started to ask myself questions like “What’s the purpose of living?” I’d gone from having this positive outlook on my life to feeling completely defeated.

      For almost 20 years I was convinced that epilepsy defined who I was. Now, through of the help of VNS Therapy, I am once again living a great life. I am a stay-at-home dad, and in my son’s eyes, I am still a star quarterback when we throw ball in the front yard or practice foot maneuvers during a run.

      I started VNS Therapy in 2006. Two decades earlier, I woke up in a sweaty locker room with a sliced tongue and erased memories. After VNS Therapy, I woke up to a changed life again… but this time, life was changed for the better. I worked with my doctor to get the settings adjusted for my personal needs. Since then, I have lived a life virtually free of seizures and have had to take much less medication. This has allowed me to feel more confident and be a better husband and father.

      VNS Therapy has benefitted me in other ways. Without repeated seizures, I can think better -- my memory has increased so much -- and I can function better in everything that I do. Now I’m able to cook, manage the finances, and handle the lawn care for my family. We live an average middle-class family life. No, we live a BETTER than average life because we KNOW every day without a seizure is a GOOD day.

      What I consider winning now is very different than how I thought of it in the past. Now, winning is about being the best husband and father I can be, and when I compare my life to others, I think I have a GREAT life. After my life had turned upside down, VNS Therapy helped to turn it back around.

      I urge you to keep looking for answers and seeking better seizure control. What works for one person may not work for another, but don’t give up. Keep trying because even when the road seems never-ending, you just don’t know what’s around the next bend."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Joe's Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2015

      "I am grateful that VNS Therapy has given me more control over my seizures and more peace of mind."

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      Joe's Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2015

       

      VNS Therapy has given me more control over my seizures and a better quality of life. It’s been a positive experience not just for me, but for my entire family, because my seizures affected everyone.

       

      Before VNS Therapy, my parents and sisters would worry about me having a seizure all the time. I couldn’t be alone taking a bath or going to the bathroom; my family always had to be there in case I had a seizure.

      I never had a seizure in my life until I suffered a traumatic brain injury when I was 16 years old. I was in a bad car accident. Someone ran a red light, I swerved and hit a pole, and suddenly, my whole life changed. The doctors placed me in a medically-induced coma for months. Eventually, I was able to leave the hospital and return home.

      Almost a year later, I started having really strong seizures. My family tells me they were bad and getting worse; the seizures started lasting longer and becoming more severe, and I often ended up in the hospital. We tried lots of medications – and the doctors kept having to give me more and more of them. I went from being an independent teenager to someone who could not be left alone. If I ever did wander off alone, my family would usually find me unconscious on the ground or else I would be groggy and have bruises and cuts on my face and body that I didn’t remember getting.

      The medications were hard on my body, so when my doctor told me about VNS Therapy, I was excited to try something different. The VNS Therapy procedure only lasted about an hour, and I was able to go home that same day.

      VNS Therapy definitely improved my life. Although I still have seizures, they are now shorter, less severe, and my recovery time afterwards is much shorter. My only side effects from VNS Therapy are a little hoarseness or shakiness in my voice. It doesn’t last long, and it’s better than having seizures and winding up in the hospital.

      Today I’m back in college and studying art. I have more freedom now because I have more control over my seizures. I can go out with friends and family, and if I feel a seizure coming on, I can always use my magnet. Plus, my family has more freedom now because they don’t have to watch over me all the time.

      My life will never be the same as it was before the car accident, but I am grateful that VNS Therapy has given me more control over my seizures and more peace of mind."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Rosario’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2016

      "Today, I’m able to volunteer at a local elementary school and live a much more 'normal' life now."

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      Rosario’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2016

      Choosing VNS Therapy was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had a few seizures growing up, but those episodes were nothing compared to the seizures I started having in my mid-20s. On some days I had 15 seizures a day. I was constantly in the hospital, I couldn’t drive, and I couldn’t get a job because of my medical history. I lost friendships because “friends” would worry I might have a seizure and didn’t want to deal with it. Eventually I was taking up to 36 pills a day.

      At one point, I wasn’t sure I could go on because my future felt so bleak. I told the man who would one day become my husband he should just move on and find someone who wasn’t so sick, but he stuck with me.

      Fortunately I had the strength to keep searching to find an answer, so I continued talking to other doctors and kept looking for other medical opinions. Eventually that’s how I found out about VNS Therapy. I located a doctor who told me about the therapy and explained the benefits and risks.

      The more I learned about VNS Therapy the more I knew it was something I wanted to try. At first, my family tried to talk me out of it because they had never heard of the therapy, but I knew it was my decision. I was tired of having seizures and waking up in a hospital.

      After I had the procedure, I realized that choosing VNS Therapy was one of the best decisions I ever made. VNS Therapy has completely changed my life. Other than a few side effects like occasional hoarseness and dry mouth, it’s been months since I had a seizure, and I’m down to two pills a day! Today, I’m able to volunteer at a local elementary school, and I’ve shared my story with other people through the Epilepsy Foundation. I recently visited my family in Mexico to attend a wedding and my niece’s Quinceanera. I was gone for over a month and I didn’t have a seizure the entire time. That trip would not have been possible before my VNS Therapy.

      I think it’s important to never give up and always keep fighting for answers. I may not always be seizure free, but I live a much more “normal” life now. For people with epilepsy, my advice is do not be afraid to ask questions and keep exploring your options. Look into VNS Therapy. It really worked for me."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Tiffany’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2004

      "I feel more optimistic about my life with epilepsy."

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      Tiffany’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 2004

       

      My seizures were so out of control that we were seriously considering surgery. One of the other options my neurologist wanted to try was VNS Therapy.

       

      Seizure medications just were not working for me. Every time we changed or added a medication, there were new side effects to deal with: weight gain and loss, fatigue, and dizziness. So I decided to learn more about VNS Therapy. I did some research, talked to people who had VNS Therapy, and read about others’ experiences online. I spoke with my doctor about the possible risks and benefits. I wasn’t expecting to be seizure free, but I was very hopeful that I would experience improved seizure control and eliminate some of the medication side effects I was experiencing.

      I’m a stay-at-home mom of three, and being a mom is the most challenging and rewarding thing in my life. I love it. But I also have epilepsy, which adds another set of challenges to life. In fact, my worst seizures didn’t really begin until after I had my first child. Being a mom gave me the only reason I needed to fight.

      I decided to move forward with VNS Therapy. There were no complications from the procedure and, after two weeks, my doctor turned the VNS Therapy device on. At first, I noticed my voice would vibrate. That faded into hoarseness after about a month, and that also lessened with time. Sometimes I cough a bit from the stimulation; that, I can live with. More importantly, my seizure activity lessened.

      Once I started feeling more optimistic about my life with epilepsy, I decided it was time to talk to my son about my condition. Shortly after he turned three years old, I sat him down and explained that seizures look scary, but you don’t have to be scared if you know what to do. We’d have seizure drills, where I would lie on the floor and have him get the magnet and hold it over the device. I’m glad we did that; when I was eight months pregnant with the twins, I felt a seizure coming on. I laid down and called for him. He went to get my magnet off the fridge and swiped it. It stopped the seizure. I got him a trophy a few days later with an eagle spreading its wings that reads “Mom’s Hero.”

      Before I got my device, I was the patient who needed three to five meds to reduce my seizure activity. Once I got my VNS device, I was able to reduce the number of medications I needed. I loved having fewer medications. Most importantly, my seizures are few and far between, but I still wear a magnet that I can hold over the device if I feel a seizure coming on. I wear it everywhere.

      Today, hope is my self-preservation tactic. Feeling sorry for myself did me no good, and I refuse to wait to get sick again. When I’m well, I’m grateful for it. My mom used to ask me, “Why borrow trouble?” It doesn’t do any good to worry that things won’t get better; if you look forward to the future, and appreciate what you do have, life is more manageable. And what I have today is the love and support of my family, including a son who’s still Mom’s hero.

      If you take anything away from this, understand that there is always something that can be done. People are working to develop this technology even further. Keep working with your doctors, keep looking for answers, and don’t ever be afraid to hope."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.

    • Tim’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 1998

      "I have a new outlook on the life now that I have better seizure control."

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      Tim’s Story

      On VNS Therapy since 1998

       

      Over the years, I’ve been prescribed 13 different epilepsy medications in dozens of different combinations. My doctor and I were investigating new treatment options when he suggested VNS Therapy to help control my seizures.

       

      Therapy to help control my seizures.

      My doctor explained the potential risks and benefits and said the procedure would be done on an outpatient basis in the hospital. He said that VNS Therapy has been shown to help control seizures and significantly reduce the time it takes to recover from them. As a former US Air Force firefighter, I was ready to move forward.

      So after reading up on it and talking about it with my wife, the Veterans Administration, and family, we made the decision to start VNS Therapy. In August 1998, I was among the first at the VA hospital in San Antonio to have the procedure done. It took less than three hours, and they sent me home that afternoon and told me to take it easy for a week. My doctor said I could bathe in the tub sitting down, but to only use a damp wash cloth on my upper torso, neck and head for the first week.

      After two weeks, I went back for an appointment with my neurologist. Again, he explained in layman’s terms what VNS Therapy does, how and when to use the magnet, and what kind of side effects I might experience. Then he turned the VNS Therapy on and tried different settings to see how I reacted. Over the next few months, he made a few adjustments to the settings. And after about six months, we noticed a difference -- I wasn’t having as many seizures, and my recovery time was a lot shorter.

      As far as side effects are concerned, I’ve had challenges swallowing at times, so I’ve worked with my doctor to manage it. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about questions and concerns you have with your treatment plan to determine what’s best for you.

      Today, my epileptologist and I maintain a close relationship. If I ever have any problems with my medication, or if the VNS Therapy settings need to be changed, I can call him; he’s always been there to help.

      Now I know we’re all different, but my seizures have been reduced in frequency and intensity since receiving VNS Therapy, in conjunction with my medications and brain surgery in 2004. I’m still not letting epilepsy get the best of me. I’ve developed an entirely new outlook on life now that I have better seizure control, and I feel confident that my VNS Therapy is working.

      If you don’t have the seizure control you need with your current medications, work with your doctors to find a treatment plan that fits your specific situation. Educate yourself, and stay positive. Never settle, and never give up."

      *This is the experience of one individual who has tried VNS Therapy. Individual results may vary.