Teen changes diet in order to fight seizures

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Changing her diet is helping a Tipton County teen control her seizures but the solution took a long time to find.

On the outside, Tipton High School freshman Madison Hoover has it all together. She’s a straight ‘A’ student, a basketball player and a loving daughter. But for a long time something wasn’t right.

“I have had them since kindergarten and so we were confused what was happening to me,” said Madison. “We didn’t know when we were doing it and then we did blood work and it became obvious that I had epilepsy.”

It would be a scary moment for any parent, especially Madison’s mom Paige.

“The doctor said ‘yes, it’s absence seizures’ and I’m, like, sitting in a Charlie Brown classroom and I can’t hear anything,” said Paige.

Absence seizures are like blacking out, but from an outsider’s perspective, it looks just like daydreaming. Doctors say these types of seizures can lead to learning disabilities. A child may have up to 100 seizures a day. That can be a real problem when playing sports.

“Sometimes it was scary. She would have a seizure in the middle of the court or when she would walk away with another team,” said Paige.

That’s when the medications started.

“I was on ten pills a day for it for like four years and it made me lethargic, tired. Horrible nightmares. It was just really bad,” said Madison.

But it wasn’t until a trip to Riley Hospital for Children did Madison and the Hoover family find the answers they were looking for, something called the ketogenic diet. Noelle Carr, a registered dietitian and certified specialist in pediatrics at Riley Hospital for Children, says the diet, which is high in fat and low in carbs, can create more stable blood sugars and insulin levels.

“It takes our bodies from running off blood sugars and switch that energy source into burning fat and running off what we call ketone bodies,” said Carr.

In Madison’s case, eating a diet of meat, cheese and nuts focusing on natural fats that completely eliminated her seizures.

“Not only were her parents supportive and encouraging of her, but she just owned it and has been able to thrive and they have been an amazing family to watch,” said Carr.

For the past two years, the Hoovers followed the ketogenic diet. As Madison experienced one of the side effects: losing weight. She lost about 30 pounds. To help her gain weight back and strength, her mom made something called a fat bomb, a brownie with peanut butter and a lot of fat.

“Just some of the things we had to go through measuring everything out and making sure everything was 15 carbs a day,” said Madison.

Madison is getting ready to be scanned again. If it comes back normal she could be off all her medication for good.

“I think it was a miracle really. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” said Madison. “Before I couldn’t drive, the chances of driving are slim to none. Now I can drive probably in the next year or so. I get my license next July if I pass my driving test.”

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