In the public health system in Nicaragua, a person may have to wait six or more months to get an EEG (electroencephalogram) when they have seizures, or up to a year for less urgent needs. If a child or adult needs a CT (computerized tomography) scan, it may likely just not happen, unless they present as an emergency patient in a city with available neurology services. That leaves our patients with few options. Ashley was able to get that needed EEG in a timely manner thanks to our special fund. She has been safe on seizure meds for two years, but has recently developed more seizures - up to 5 a day- and even with increased meds the seizures have been difficult to control. She needed a CT scan and fast! Again thanks to our precious gift, we were able to do it!
We seem to have a higher than normal rate of seizures, mostly in children but occasionally adults as well. Part of the reason is due to a predominance of parasite infestations in the brain resulting from eating infected, under-cooked animal meat. We are also suspicious that perhaps a piece of the puzzle is from past use of the insecticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) during the cotton producing days, for which our area was prime land. Nicaragua has a higher rate of DDT contamination than other countries. DDT contamination is measured by the average of DDT or its byproducts found in breast milk. The only countries with higher rates are those who still use DDT for malaria control and a few African countries which use high levels of DDT for agricultural uses. On average, we have about 3 to 4 people (usually kids) who need a CT scan per year, and with the parasite issue it is important that these are done in a timely manner. Usually we do the EEG first, and work up those with more complicated cases with CT scans. We are able to do another 3 to 5 (again usually children) who need urgent EEGs!
Ashley had a rough day, as the IV needed for the contrast was difficult for her, but with both of her dedicated parents there with her, it went as well as it could. Only after the procedure was complete did I discover she had a respiratory infection. On our drive back she started to shiver severely, and started spiking a fever. I thought the trembling was perhaps from the trauma of the procedure, but when the trembling stopped her temperature started to climb rapidly. We were about 15 minutes from home when the seizure started in the truck, so we went directly to the hospital. Her temp was indeed up, which might have contributed to the seizure. Upon examination she was diagnosed with pneumonia and was treated for that before she returned home. The results of the CT scan showed that there were no structural changes, Thank God! Her meds were doubled and she will need another CT scan in a year to verify all is normal, but she is stable thus far!
Thank you to our humble donors who make our neurology work possible. God has indeed blessed you to be a blessing to the people of Nicaragua!