Brain surgery lets woman listen to music
January 18, 2008
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – Now that surgeons have operated on Stacey Gayle’s brain, her favorite musician no longer makes her ill. Four years after being diagnosed with epilepsy, Gayle recently underwent brain surgery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center to cure a rare condition known as musicogenic epilepsy.
Gayle, a 25-year-old customer service employee at a bank in Alberta, Canada, was suffering as many as 10 grand mal seizures a day, despite being treated with medications designed to control them. The condition became so bad she eventually had to quit her job and leave the church choir where she sang.
Eighteen months ago, she began to suspect that music by reggae and hip-hop artist Sean Paul was triggering some of her seizures. She recalled being at a barbecue and collapsing when the Jamaican rapper’s music started playing, and then remembered having a previous seizure when she heard his music.
Her suspicions were confirmed on a visit to the Long Island medical center last February, when she played Paul’s hit “Temperature” on her iPod for doctors. Soon after, she suffered three seizures.
“Being that the seizures could be triggered by the music, this was a very interesting opportunity to study Stacey’s brain,” said Dr. Ashesh Mehta, the hospital’s director of epilepsy surgery.
During the first surgery, doctors implanted more than 100 electrodes in the right side of her brain to pinpoint the abnormal area of her brain.
The surgeons followed that procedure with a second surgery to remove the electrodes, along with parts of her brain suspected of causing the seizures.
“We used the latest techniques, including image guidance, to pinpoint the areas of abnormality, and the operating microscope to perform the procedure during a four-hour operation,” Mehta said.
Within three days, the woman was released from the hospital and has not experienced a seizure since.
“I always live each day like it’s my last,” she said. “I want to show others that life does not end at epilepsy. I know I have what it takes to succeed.”