In the News

June 2024 

Mar 2024 

Paradoxes in a Pandemic - 

I wrote this reflecting on burnout and our impossible lives, especially as women physicians. This essay is for my colleagues and the many heroes whose lives have been forever affected by COVID.

Mar 2024

Epilepsy in Canada: An overview of stats, impact and resources 

by Karen Hawthorne

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disease that produces abnormal bursts of electrical signaling in the brain. If it’s uncontrolled, these bursts result in seizures that can vary in form, frequency and duration. The uncertainty of seizures causes health and social consequences that can have a profound impact on livelihood and quality of life. While anti-seizure medication can help control these events, about a third of patients are resistant to drugs and struggle to cope.

Think of the brain as a house, says Dr. Esther Bui, a neurologist and clinician educator with the Krembil Brain Institute at University Health Network in Toronto. “My best analogy of what we do is view me as an electrician. So if you’ve got a plumbing problem, you call the plumber. There are stroke doctors who unclog the pipes in our brain. Electricity is fascinating because unlike many other diseases, you actually gain function like a superhero. So if you can imagine electricity, when all the lights turn on in the house, the whole brain gets illuminated. In epilepsy, it’s an electrical problem.”

Read the full article here. 

Feb 2024 

Lost and Found: A Bunny's Story 

A newly published children's book for parents with medical illness.

For anyone who has ever struggled to find the words to talk to young children about parental illness, this children's storybook helps parents find the right words using the universal theme of love. Told through the eyes of one mommy bunny and her children, Lost and Found - A Bunny's Story is a beautiful tale filled with adventure, bravery, and the saving grace of love. This children's book was written by Dr. Bui and illustrated by Dr. Annie Zhu to empower parents facing illness to create an authentic narrative of their lived experiences for their children. In the words of one reader a "truly huggable book".

Now available on Amazon with proceeds supporting the Women's Neurology program, University of Toronto.

Available on   Buy on 

Available on  Buy on 

Also available in print on Amazon UK, Netherlands, France, France, Germain, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Poland, Australia

Preview Lost and Found: A Bunny's Story 

Feb 2024

Women’s Neurology is an emerging medical subspecialty that focuses on neurological conditions across a woman’s lifespan with key periods being preconception, pregnancy, postpartum and transitional midlife period (pre-menopause and post-menopause).

Women have important sex and gender-specific considerations, yet there are gaps in training that neurologists receive specific to this population. Furthermore, research shows that men and women respond differently to pain medications and an increasing number of studies suggest that the fundamental biology of pain and pain relief differs between the sexes. Such important differences extend to epilepsy, cognition, headache, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases and stroke.

Read the full article here.

August  2023

In July 2019, Darlene Shaw woke in the middle of the night – disoriented, confused and surrounded not  only by her two sons, but a team of paramedics.

Told she’d been passed out for five minutes, Darlene was hospitalized with the diagnosis of a seizure, but with her memory back in the days that followed, standard tests showed no signs of anything brain-related. As Darlene had been exhausted prior to the incident, it was assumed the seizure was on a one-off, and a neurologist placed blame on stress and fatigue.

Unfortunately, the event’s repercussions meant that Darlene was not allowed to drive for four months, making her work as an interior designer at her clients’ homes difficult. Worse, the assumption of the seizure being a onetime incident was proven wrong.

The following November, Darlene suffered a second seizure. Looking in the mirror resulted in mounting anxiety when she saw her tongue was bitten and bleeding. Checking her phone only led to more questions, with texts from a person whose name she could not place.

Read the full article here.

July  2023

The Canadian Leaders in Neurology series is an initiative of the Canadian Neurological Society whose objective is to showcase exceptional accomplishments by Canadian neurologists who are leaders in their respective fields. In this segment of the series, Dr. Hayley F. Thornton, a neurology resident at the University of Calgary, interviews Dr. Esther Bui.

Read the full article here.

April 4, 2023

Women make up nearly half of the world's population and have higher rates of neurological disorders, yet there is still a gap when it comes to better understanding and treating women living with brain-related illnesses. Many women also face systemic barriers and biases when they seek help, often leading to a delay in diagnosis and treatment.


Dr. Esther Bui - Neurologist and clinician educator at UHN’s Krembil Brain Institute and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Her research includes the creation of Canada’s first accredited Women’s Neurology Clinic and training program.  Find her on Twitter: @womensneurology

Dr. Mary Angela O'Neal - Director of the Women's Neurology program at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard University. Dr. O’Neal also directs a Harvard Medical School course in Women’s Neurology and Psychiatry.

Nikki Ashworth – Experiencing seizures since she was a child, Nikki was only diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy in her 30s. Her seizures may come without warning, but she's been turning her experience into an art form with her dark and honest unintentional comedy. Find Nikki on IG: @strange_miss

Roshan Malhan - A second-year medical student at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, where he acts as a co-director for the Anesthesia Interest Group and Emergency Medicine Interest Group. He is currently exploring his interests in a number of medical specialties and looking forward to gaining additional insights during clerkship.

March 31, 2023

We had some help from our young friends, who asked about UHN’s Epilepsy Pregnancy clinic at Toronto Western Hospital. Some known risk factors for seizures are variations in hormones, lack of sleep and stress – all of which are exacerbated during pregnancy and while caring for young children – which can make this phase of life especially challenging for women with epilepsy. Although it may require some extra attention, planning and support from the patient’s family, here at UHN’s Krembil Brain Institute, it is possible for these patients to successfully become mothers.​

Jan 7, 2023

A first person account of the Lullaby Project for Women with Epilepsy, Julianne Hazlewood  masterly weaves a heart-wrenching story with lump in your throat moments. At the heart of this story is a universal love song from a mother to her child. Listen to the audio documentary on White Coat Black Art - "Road to You".

May 18, 2022

@KBI_UHN writes: We are honoured to partner with the @roythomsonhall team on The Lullaby Project, helping women living with #epilepsy to create beautiful lullabies for their young children & to study the impact of music on epilepsy. Thanks to @TOYourHealth9 for this story:

May 7, 2021

A new musical collaboration with Roy Thomson-Massey Hall  aims to help women living with epilepsy while pregnant. Brandon Rowe reports on the initiative.

Sept 2020

A turning point

At 42-years-old and 22 weeks pregnant, Amy Swenson-Tiano’s life was about to change dramatically – a few months ahead of schedule.

Since she was a teenager, Amy had questioned her diagnosis of epilepsy. While sometimes overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety over episodes, she assumed she was a victim of panic attacks.

That was until April 1, 2019, when Amy woke up in the middle of the night convulsing, jolting her wife Sandra awake through a 15-minute seizure. When medical help arrived, they found her confused and disoriented. “I didn’t know who anyone was,” remembers Amy. “Essentially I just opened my eyes, and there were two paramedics standing over me."