Reconnecting the dots

The NeuroHealth Institute at Lakeway helped Cordie find the balance she needed to thrive with epilepsy.

Cordie McGhee never really felt like her health was under control—until she found the NeuroHealth Institute at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lakeway.

Cordie has lived most of her life managing three chronic illnesses. As a toddler, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as well as eosinophilic asthma, a severe type of asthma caused by an abundance of white blood cells—but, she wasn’t about to let her health slow her down.

Then, in her early teenage years, Cordie began having focal seizures, or partial seizures, several times a week. She was diagnosed with epilepsy, but had limited access to advanced care from her family’s remote home in Alaska.

By the time she went to college in Nevada, Cordie was experiencing small focal seizures 12 to 18 times a day. Though her seizures were unnoticeable to others, they were very disruptive for Cordie, adding an extra layer of difficulty to her education. She struggled with memory, headaches, and severe chronic mental fatigue. “The regimen I was on wasn’t keeping it under control, and we didn’t know what my triggers were,” she says. “I constantly felt like I hadn’t slept in days, and I couldn’t gather my thoughts. But, I have a really strong drive to succeed, and I figured out ways to work around those issues. Still, it can be really dangerous not to have the seizures under control.”

After completing her master’s degree at Pepperdine University, Cordie accepted a job in the Bay area of California. There, she finally got answers about her specific type of epilepsy—temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). TLE is the most common type of focal epilepsy, affecting the part of the brain that processes memories, interprets surroundings, and governs many emotional responses. 

“I finally had medication regimen that would stop the seizures, but the side effects were almost as bad as the disease itself,” Cordie says. “I was still so tired mentally and had headaches every morning. 
I was not getting through the day on a normal productivity level and my career was suffering. I couldn’t seem to connect the dots in my memory, which was really scary because it was almost like I had dementia. People would ask, ‘do you remember that time we did this or that,’ and I always had to say, ‘no, not at all.’”

In 2020, Cordie moved to the Austin area and began searching for a new care team. “My other conditions were under control, but epilepsy was still my biggest hurdle,” she says. “I was researching doctors in the area and saw that Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Lakeway was right down the road from my home, had everything I needed in one place, and had a great reputation. It was almost like divine intervention.”

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"Baylor Scott & White Medical Center - Lakeway was right down the road from my home, had everything I needed in one place, and had a great reputation. It was almost like divine intervention....I am truly in a better state than I have even been in my life."

Cordie McGhee

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At Baylor Scott & White, doctors ordered new brain scans and blood tests to re-evaluate Cordie’s condition. “Managing a chronic illness is really a balancing act. You have to continually adjust based on what’s happening in your body,” Cordie says. “It had been almost a decade since my last scans and my body had changed, so they took the initiative to re-do everything.”

Cordie’s doctors worked with her to find the right balance for her medications and lifestyle. “They asked me to journal what I did every day to figure out what would trigger a headache or mental fatigue—such as high stress or lack of sleep—as well as what helped alleviate my symptoms like exercise or lots of reading to help me slow down mentally. My previous doctors had all been focused on heavy medication, so I really appreciated their holistic approach that factored in the full picture.”

Within a month, Cordie’s doctors eliminated one medication entirely and significantly decreased two others. “The difference was phenomenal—it was like all my dots reconnected,” Cordie says. “Not only am I seizure-free, but I’m so much more healthy all around. I don’t wake up with headaches and I’m not tired, so I’m not reliant on caffeine and headache medicine to get through the day. My career is going well, and I feel confident about sharing my childhood memories and life experience. I am so grateful to have made such an improvement—I am truly in a better state than I have ever been in my life.” 


The NeuroHealth Institute in Greater Austin

The NeuroHealth Institute provides comprehensive care for patients with complex neurological conditions in the greater Austin region. Experts in nine sub-specialties offer multidisciplinary care using advanced technologies for minimally invasive procedures to improve a patient’s quality of life.

“We know that a multidisciplinary approach can improve patient outcomes, and we’ve seen this, for example, with cancer care — where you have oncologists, surgeons and other specialists surrounding the patient with everything the patient needs to manage his or her disease,” says Rob Watson, MD, chief medical officer for Baylor Scott & White Health Austin/Round Rock and Hill Country Regions. “The NeuroHealth Institute is the same model for people with spine and neurological concerns. It’s multifaceted, coordinated and highly collaborative.”

To learn more about how you can support the NeuroHealth Institute, please contact Chris Beck at 512-496-7575 or


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