The Neuro Ninja
Meet Kyle Parker! An incredibly inspiring, generous, rock-climbing and mindfulness addict!
A quick intro to Kyle:
· His favourite food is: Mexican
· His favourite activities are: rock climbing and snowboarding
· His favourite book is: The Nature Principle by Richard Louv
· His greatest inspiration is: his Father
· Additional fact: Kyle is the Founder of Sled Outdoors – which plans environmentally friendly outdoor events for local nonprofits and small businesses
Born and raised in Colorado, Kyle says: “I bleed blue and orange!” To the rest of us, that means Kyle is a tad passionate when it comes to the American Football team Denver Broncos!
Kyle’s saying: “To Simply Live Each Day”
Diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy on 11th April 2015, Kyle just wanted to know how to “fix things” (ah, if only things were so simple). He hadn’t had any diagnosed neurological difficulties prior. He hadn’t had an accident or bashed his head during rock climbing (during which he always uses a helmet, before you ask!).
“The worst moments were my first seizure and being diagnosed. The seizure broke my back in 4 places and I was completely blown away with the diagnosis. I was incredibly depressed, cried for hours each day and was utterly lost. I had no idea what I was getting into or any of the options our there for me. My life as I had planned it was ruined.”
One “good” thing was that the origin of Kyle’s seizures was able to be identified; Kyle had sclerosis (scar tissue) identified in his hippocampus within his right temporal lobe and it was from here that the seizures originated each time.
Kyle’s first Neurologist was a nightmare; he pretty much told him that there was no suitable treatment for him and that his life was over. Of course, Kyle swiftly went looking for another, more knowledgeable Neurologist – and in Kyle’s words he then (thank goodness): “hit the jackpot”.
Through his new Neurologist, Dr. Drees at the Neurology Center of UC Health, Colorado, Kyle learnt that his seizures were originating from one small part of his brain – that being sclerosis (scar tissue) within his hippocampus (within his right temporal lobe). To have this identified was fantastic. I say this because Kyle’s Temporal Lobe Epilepsy was medication-resistant. Dr. Drees tested him for his suitability for brain surgery, specifically: MRI guided laser ablation surgery. It turned out that Kyle was a perfect candidate for this particular surgery.
The idea of allowing someone to burn away parts of his brain terrified Kyle at first! He decided to try and control his seizures with medication and chiropractic adjustments. Kyle was seizure free from December 2015 to October 2016 but when the seizures returned, Kyle had had enough and was “done playing around”. Surgery seemed to be the best course to find true seizure freedom for Kyle. After having done a fair amount of research, checking out statistics and potential outcomes, Kyle’s response to the surgery offer was: “Let’s do it!”
Kyle’s first MRI guided laser ablation surgery procedure was in February 2017, which wasn’t as successful as he’d hoped; providing Kyle with only 4 months of seizure control. Luckily a second surgery was possible – and he had this in August 2017. The second surgery wasn’t quite as “simple” as the first; rather than aiming to just remove the existing scar, the new target was a large section of the right temporal lobe. 100% of Kyle’s right hippocampus and 80% of his right amygdala were removed through the use of two MRI guided lasers.
Since his last surgery, Kyle has not had one seizure. Nothing. Not even an aura. Kyle says that he now feels even more alive than prior to his epilepsy because he truly appreciates and lives his life now. One of his many quotes is: “99% of life is attitude, be positive my friends!” The diagnosis and treatment of his epilepsy have led Kyle to follow his dreams every day. He knows how lucky he is to have such a great life after going through such a terrible time. Kyle is a climbing enthusiast and an American Ninja Warrior in Training! Hoping to raise awareness for epilepsy, Kyle has set a goal of competing in the 2018 season of the television show American Ninja Warrior.
Kyle has a wonderfully supportive girlfriend called Sara who has been there to keep him strong and focused through it all. His wonderfully supportive friends and family have been and are priceless.
Kyle still takes the anti-convulsant Vimpat (Lacosamide) and will do so until/if he’s told he can reduce/come off of the drug. To suddenly come off of an AED is very dangerous and can encourage seizures (yes, I did this in my early twenties…. and had several seizures as a result :/).
Now let’s finish with a wonderful quote from Kyle:
“Epilepsy has definitely shown me that I can face anything in life with confidence. No workout, physical or mental challenge nor anything else will ever be as difficult as dealing with epilepsy. I would like to add to that since fighting this battle for past 2 years, my life has found new meaning and is not ruined as I had once thought. In fact, I am a better, stronger person from having this condition. It might be twisted but a part of me is happy I was given this challenge to finally see my own potential.”