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Albany Med Today

A Fight to Make a Dream on Hold Come True


After years of unsuccessful attempts to find a treatment that would end her epileptic seizures, Tracey Pommer saw a TV news report that helped her find the treatment she needed to live a fuller life and realize her dream of fighting fires.

From 1988 through 2003, she saw several physicians and received numerous epilepsy treatments that involved combinations of medications, but with no significant changes. She was unable to drive and, despite her treatments, she continued having eight to 10 seizures a month.

Then in November 2003 she saw Anthony Ritaccio, MD, ’84, director of Albany Med’s epilepsy program, on a TV news program discussing a surgical technique that cured patients whose epilepsy couldn’t be controlled with drugs. She called his office the next day.

She was admitted into Albany Med’s comprehensive epilepsy monitoring unit. There, specially trained nurses, neuropsychologists and physicians use powerful computers, brain mapping and imaging to pinpoint the source of the seizures. They identified Pommer as a good candidate for surgery.

“This type of patients has had seizures for decades. They’ve tried medications in all kinds of combinations and they are at their wit’s end,” Dr. Ritaccio said. “In an enormous number of cases, there can be a surgical cure.”

ommer had the surgery. She’s now gone nine years without a seizure. Having won the fight of her life, Lt. Pommer — Stillwater Fire Department president and vice president of the Saratoga County Fire Officer’s Association — now fights fires. 

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