Meet Kara Moore, a mother of two who was once a licensed interior designer working on million-dollar homes from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale.
Kara suffers from epileptic seizures resulting from a brain injury sustained from an epidural procedure during the birth of her son. After returning home from her son’s delivery, she began to experience severe pain traveling up her spine from the epidural point to the base of her skull. After two days of progressively worsening pain and the feeling her head would explode, she went to her local Emergency Room. She was evaluated, treated for the pain, and released. Upon returning home, she went to sleep… and awoke with no memory of her children’s birth, her wedding, children’s names, or even her name.
Kara returned to the hospital for evaluation. She was diagnosed with right and left temporal lobe and hippocampus swelling, a probable result of an infection related to the epidural procedure. Kara says she remembers hospital staff telling her she had just given birth to a healthy baby boy, but she didn’t remember the delivery, her husband’s name, and about two-thirds of her life’s memories. She remembers her early years through High School and some of her early career in the airline industry. Still, she didn’t recall her interior design career, her family’s stories, and most details until the injury. Kara says her memory currently tests at a dementia level. As a result, she finds herself unable to work, as her memory fails her at most every turn.
Kara began to experience an Aura, a deja vu form of flashback, and the intense aroma of burning rubber. To determine the cause, she saw a neurologist, underwent extensive testing, and was diagnosed with swelling of both her temporal lobes and her hippocampus. These issues were probably related to the spinal fluid infection she experienced during her epidural procedure. Testing also revealed Kara was suffering from Simple Complex Partial Seizures. Her diagnosis led to her undergoing brain surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, where the right temporal lobe damage was removed. Unfortunately, the focal point for seizures associated wither the left temporal lobe could not be located.
Kara says after her surgery, her seizures improved but never totally stopped. She noticed she was becoming more and more disassociated; she was numb to her surroundings and no longer felt any emotions or connection to her surroundings. She was placed on antidepressants; they didn’t provide any relief. She began drinking and saw her life beginning to further erode and drift away.
As her life began to spiral out of control, Kara was introduced to a Neuropsychologist who was starting to treat patients with a new technology called Vagus Nerve Stimulation. The Vagus nerve, also known as the vagal nerves, are the main nerves of your parasympathetic nervous system. This system controls specific body functions such as your digestion, heart rate and immune system. These functions are involuntary, meaning you can’t consciously control them.
In 2011, Kara underwent installation of a Vagus Nerve Stimulator. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) uses electrical impulses to stimulate your left vagus nerve. Healthcare providers implant a small device in your chest, under your skin. A wire runs under your skin connecting the device and nerve.
Schematic from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1935861X19304899
After about one year of using the VNS, Kara began to experience emotions again, and she began reconnecting with others. She began an exercise program, starting with WiFit and running one-minute laps around her house. Today, she participates in half marathons and has completed her first triathlon. In addition, she began volunteering at a local stable’s outreach program for disabled children. While reaching out to her community and helping others, Kara met her marathon partner, Michael. She has run several marathons with him, and together, Kara plans to push Michael and his custom racing chair across the Boston Marathon finish line in 2023.
Kara has been sober since August 8, 2012. She has been the beneficiary of a loving husband and two children who have helped her through her dark times. She is no longer disconnected or dissociated from her life and her surroundings. She attributes her current success to the VNS implant procedure she underwent in 2011. The VNS has enabled her to live with her seizures; they still occur but are moderated to a controllable level.
Do you or someone you love have a Brain Story to share? We’d love to feature you! Head over to our Brain Story page to learn how to submit your Brain Story. To learn more about our mission to find a cure for brain and mental health-related disorders worldwide, please visit our website at The United Brain Association. If you’d like to receive updates, news, scheduled events, or more information about our ongoing donor-funded research projects, sign up for our email newsletter by clicking here. Together we can find a cure for brain disorders.
You Are Not Alone
For you or a loved one to be diagnosed with a brain or mental health-related illness or disorder is overwhelming, and leads to a quest for support and answers to important questions. UBA has built a safe, caring and compassionate community for you to share your journey, connect with others in similar situations, learn about breakthroughs, and to simply find comfort.
Make a Donation, Make a Difference
We have a close relationship with researchers working on an array of brain and mental health-related issues and disorders. We keep abreast with cutting-edge research projects and fund those with the greatest insight and promise. Please donate generously today; help make a difference for your loved ones, now and in their future.
The United Brain Association – No Mind Left Behind