"Let's Fix This!"
Samantha Estock was just 12-years-old when the seizures began. Sometimes
they’d come in rapid succession – as many as three per minute.
Sometimes she’d get as many as 200 seizures in one day.
The seizures sapped her energy, and dramatically altered her life but Samantha
said they also made her a more compassionate person. The 23-year-old writer
noted a kindred sense of compassion in David Millett, M.D., Ph.D., Epilepsy
Program Director at Hoag Neurosciences Institute.
“He takes into consideration how you feel. If you’ve already
taken a million medications, and it is hard to try the same medications
again, he takes that into consideration and really listens,” Samantha
said. “He’s the best doctor I’ve ever had.”
Estock found Dr. Millett by chance. She moved to Orange County from the
Bay Area two years ago without knowing much about the medical landscape
here. When her first local neurologist retired, Samantha needed to find
a new doctor quickly.
“I heard a lot of good things about Hoag. So I went to see Dr. Millett.
Right away, he was super nice and super smart,” said Samantha, of
At 5-feet and 100 pounds, the diminutive Samantha is not a typical patient.
She reacts poorly to most of the strong medications she’s taken
– all 27 of them. This has made treating her too complicated for
some physicians, she said. But Dr. Millett has been up for the challenge.
“Dr. Millett is super understanding,” she said. “He says,
‘If there’s a problem, let’s fix it.’”
In fact, the first medication regimen Dr. Millett recommended controlled
Samantha’s seizures but caused severe depression. Prior physicians
had made Samantha feel guilty for asking to change her prescription, but
Dr. Millett immediately responded to her needs and switched course.
In place of her existing regimen, Dr. Millett prescribed medications that
have worked on Samantha in the past, but that made her sleepy. Unlike
the other doctors he was the first neurologist to recommend taking those
drugs only at night.
“I don’t know why nobody else thought of that,” she said.
“I can smile again, I’m not a zombie. He really got it. He
Samantha is studying to become a chaplain so that she can offer the same
kind of help and hope she experienced from chaplains during her many hospital
stays as a teenager in the Bay Area. She marvels at the kindness that
Dr. Millett has shown, something she hadn’t previously experienced
from her doctors.
“He’s really funny and nice. He takes his time with you, and
he really cares. His attitude is always, ‘Let’s fix this.’”