Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center celebrates 25 years

March 24, 2016

HERSHEY, Pa. — Like many mothers, Lorraine Schaeffer wanted to give her daughter every childhood opportunity possible, from play dates to participation in school and community activities.

Her epilepsy, however, stood in the way.

“I had to tell her ‘no’ so many times,” recalled the East Hanover Township resident. “It hurt me and I knew it hurt her even more. My daughter was getting ripped off in life because of my problem.”

The neurological disease had been Schaeffer’s nemesis since high school, when she experienced strange times of feeling like a “volcano” overtook her body and literally stopped her in her tracks.

In young adulthood, she found herself sitting in her boss’s office surrounded by concerned co-workers — and she could never remember how she got there.

“I wouldn’t pass out, but suddenly I would start staring into space and I’d be off somewhere else. When I’d come back to my senses, I wouldn’t know where I was, but my boss would tell me it had happened again,” Schaeffer said.

A febrile seizure — one caused by high body temperature as a baby — scarred the right temporal lobe of her brain and eventually caused seizures.

Her first car accident happened when she was in her late 20s. She can’t recall the details, except that it involved only her car and no one was injured. It was then, however, that she first heard the diagnosis of epilepsy and began a long and frustrating journey of coping with anti-seizure medications that didn’t work.

Schaeffer eventually lost her driver’s license because of the seizures and daily life became a struggle for the divorced, young mother.

“It was absolutely horrible,” she said. “I had this young girl and I needed to make sure she could be in Girl Scouts and get to school activities, but I couldn’t get her there.”

All that changed when the Adult Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center opened in May 1990.

Learn more about Lorraine and the 25th anniversary of the unit where she was treated in this Penn State Medicine article.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 24, 2016