For me, the headaches started in my pre-teen years. They were attributed to stress, hormones, sinuses, and any other everyday cause you can imagine. I frequently felt tired for no reason and pain seemed to affect me in different ways than others my age.
Over the years, I was put on many different medications to try and quell the pain. Though some would dull the pain a little, nothing ever helped with the stabbing pains I experienced in the back of my head when coughing or laughing.
In 2008, on my honeymoon, I began experiencing neck pain, which persisted much longer than previous bouts. I was given shots of toridol and muscle relaxants. A couple of months down the road, I developed bronchitis. A month later, the cough was still lingering and the pain in my head was excruciating. I ended up visiting the doctor to try and get the pain under control.
In the meantime, other symptoms began to emerge. I had electric-shock-type pains shooting down my arms, was frequently dizzy for no reason, and my balance became weak at best. I suddenly found myself holding on while lying in bed, feeling as though I would fall off. I couldn’t walk without holding a wall or some other structure for support. The tingling and numbness in my hands was constant, and I began to lose feeling in my feet.
My doctor ordered an MRI and I was eventually diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. I had decompression surgery 9 months after the neck pain began. Unfortunately, as many know, Chiari rarely shows up to the party alone. I have also been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Degenerative Disc Disease, Scoliosis, Cervical Kyphosis, Osteoarthritis, Hip Bursitis, Intractable Migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis, and Plantar Fasciitis.
Two and a half years post-op, I am doing much better than I was prior to surgery, though each day is still a struggle. Chiari symptoms are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Daily pain seems to be my shadow, but I do my best not to let it affect my regular activities.
This journey has inspired me to open a non-profit organization in my area, catering to those with chronic or terminal illness.
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.