Although Bonnema remembers being awake during surgery, she said she was not aware of what the surgeon was doing. Elisevich gave several reports during the six-hour operation to Bonnema's husband, Brent, and her children, Brandon, 20 and Brittany, 18.
After the surgery, Bonnema's speech was garbled at first, and she was unable to open her right eye for three months. With time and rehabilitation therapy, she regained her ability to speak clearly and her eye function returned.
"The brain doesn't particularly like me, nor does it like any surgeon," explained Elisevich. "Any slight perturbation of the cortex, the gray mantle of the brain, or the white matter underneath it kind of leaves their footprint there for a time. The white matter in particular has to recover from that."
Elisevich said he will monitor Bonnema's other lesions. If she continues to be seizure-free for a period of time, she may be able to reduce and eventually stop taking her epilepsy medication.
"That's great," Bonnema said. "I'll have more energy."
In the meantime, she has returned to her job at Clark Home. She is again taking two-mile walks at lunch time, and her kids are expecting her water-ski again.
"It's amazing," she said. "It really is."