Greg Widseth tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the last thing he remembers is smiling at someone while leaving his son's basketball practice last March. Then the seizures began. After the initial "lightning jolting" in Greg's brain, he didn’t even recognize his wife. He says things are still a bit murky as to how he ended up at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. But both he and his wife, Nan, say they're glad he did.
Neurologists near Greg's home in Crookston, Minnesota, struggled to figure out what to do after "standard anti-seizure medications" proved to be ineffective, the Star Tribune reports. He and his wife were essentially told that his seizures were just something he was going to have to learn to live with. At that point, Nan called her sister in Rochester -- who happens to live next to Jeffrey Britton, M.D., a Mayo neurologist. After hearing about the Widseths and their search for help, Dr. Britton and colleague Andrew McKeon, M.D., a neuroimmunologist at Mayo, agreed to meet with them.
Drs. Britton and McKeon discovered that Greg was suffering from a rare disease that "prompted his immune system to attack his brain cells, resulting in as many as 60 seizures a day." After running “special blood and spinal fluid tests developed by Mayo Medical Laboratories,” they also found out that Greg had "antibodies known to target certain brain cells.” It was that last finding, the paper reports, that “prompted a round of immunosuppressant drugs” that had Greg “feeling nearly normal” again just four days later. “It was like a light switch was turned off,” Greg tells the Strib.
The newspaper says the story is “a case study in the way Mayo has become a destination for the nation’s most complex diseases." And fortunately for Greg, “Mayo is one the world’s leaders in the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune neurological diseases,” which bring about 2,500 patients a year to Rochester in search of answers.
Now that he’s gotten a diagnosis and treatment plan, Greg’s been able to return to his job as an attorney. “I’ve tried eight felony cases to verdicts,” he tells the newspaper of the work he’s done since being discharged from Mayo.
There’s much more to Greg’s story, and you can read it all here. Afterward, be sure to make a quick trip back to the In the Loop blog to share your comments and this story with others.