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Marjorie Ebnit

Marjorie Ebnit

Trigeminal Neuralgia sufferer and Gamma Knife patient

Sanford, Michigan

"I want to get the word out. The Gamma Knife isn't a machine; it’s a miracle."

Looking for Relief from Severe Facial Pain

Ten years ago, Marge Ebnit bit into a sandwich and felt a pain in her jaw so severe that she thought she was going to "go through the roof." When the pain did not subside, she began to seek answers from a series of dentists, doctors and specialists over a period of three months.

"They did MRI's…they looked for brain tumors…during this time, I had no treatment, because they couldn't figure out what was wrong," Marge said. "Imagine putting your hand in a light socket and not being able to let go. That's what it felt like."

Finally, a specialist diagnosed Marge with trigeminal neuralgia, a cranial nerve disorder that causes stabbing facial pain. Her doctor prescribed medication, which she took for the next ten years. Although surgery is sometimes an option, Marge's doctor didn't recommend it, because the medication seemed to work most of the time.

"But it didn't always work," she said.  "Sometimes I'd go three months with no pain at all, and other times I would have pain so severe that the medication couldn't control it. Some people call this 'suicide pain' because when it hits you, you'll do anything to make it stop. You may feel like you want to kick somebody or scream out in public."

Gamma Knife a Lower-Risk Alternative

Then Marge's sister told her about a treatment option called Gamma Knife.

"My husband and I went on the Internet and read all about it," Marge said. "It isn't really a knife. They don't cut you open, so there is far less risk and recovery time, and it has an 85 percent success rate. My daughter-in-law, Karen, recommended I go see Dr. Copeland."

After consulting with Brian Copeland, M.D. a neurosurgeon at MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland, Marge learned she was a good candidate for the Gamma Knife. This treatment focuses gamma radiation with pinpoint accuracy to deaden the trigeminal nerve without harming surrounding tissue.

Attentive, Caring Staff

"I had such gentle care here at MidMichigan. They must have hand-picked the staff, because everyone was wonderful. Dr. Copeland is such a nice man, and the coordinator, Dennis, is very attentive, and very good at taking care of people. 

"The day of my treatment, Dennis was with my husband and me the whole time.  They put a frame on my head, because you musn't move – the beams have to go exactly where they want them to go.  But it didn't hurt – it felt kind of like wearing a crown, because you just feel the weight. I got a CAT scan and MRI, and then I waited about an hour and a half for the treatment planning.

"During the actual treatment, I was fully awake, so I could ask questions, and they talked to me while I was in the machine. Dr. Copeland had explained everything so well that I wasn't afraid, even though I am highly claustrophobic.

"When the procedure was over, I left under my own steam and have been doing my normal activities ever since. My brother, who had surgery for his trigeminal neuralgia, spent 24 hours in intensive care and four to six weeks in recovery.

"The last six weeks before my treatment, I had constant pain that just wouldn't stop, even with medication. Since having the procedure, I've had only four slight stabs of pain. It will take three months to a year to know for sure, but I just know I am going to live pain-free. I am going to be their success story."



Is Gamma Knife Right for You?

Let us review your case. Contact our Gamma Knife Coordinator for more information, or to arrange for a no-obligation review of your records and films by one of our neurosurgeons.