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Erika's Chiari Homepage

When One Door Closes Another Opens
but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us

Alexander Graham Bell

Butterfly A Little Bit Of History
I had a normal, healthy childhood. Then in September of 1986, I turned 15 years old. My symptoms came on rather suddenly- I was nauseous and vomiting violently, extremely dizzy, unsteady gait, blurred vision, and sweating profusely. I was immediately admitted to my local hospital for a week where they ran tests but couldn't figure out what was wrong. The local doctor decided it was psychological and discharged me feeling worse than I did on the way in. After countless doctors and specialists, I happened to be seen by a Neurosurgeon who recommended an MRI. Finally I was properly diagnosed! I was told that I hadArnold Chiari Malformation , Basilar Invagination, Hydrocephalus, and Syringomyelia. I needed to have brain surgery.

Surgery Procedures

I was quite fortunate that I had no residual effects from surgery and I was able to get on with my life. I graduated from high school on time, went to college, graduate school, and started on my career.

Butterfly Chapter Two
In 1997, I was involved in a car accident that would once again change my life. After the accident, I was taken to the ER with severe neck pain and the worse headache of my life. The doctors in the emergency room took some x rays and sent me on my way with the diagnosis of a cervical sprain. I was told to see my doctor if the pain did not go away. It didn't go away.

Despite seeing 13 different doctors and specialists and reluctantly taking countless medications that didn't work, my symptoms continued to get worse and some new symptoms developed. I tried physical therapy, massage therapy, pain management, acupuncture, but nothing seemed to help. After 2 1/2 years of frustration and pain, I finally found a doctor who could properly diagnose me. It turns out that I have an Atlanto-Axial Subluxation and a very serious brain stem compression. I found myself once again facing brain surgery.

ButterflyI live in New York and will fly out to Iowa in order to have surgery on October 26th 1999. I was told that because of my previous surgery, medical history, and poor condition of my spine, this surgery will be much more difficult to perform. Prior to surgery, I will be placed into a Halo and be in traction for five days.

Surgery Procedures

Butterfly Still More
My surgery in 1999, although difficult and 11 1/2 hours long, seemed to go smoothly. However, I have developed some complications. I have lost strength and functioning in my right hand. An MRI confirmed a Syrinx I have also experienced sinus and voice problems as a result of the surgery. There is a space left in the Soft Palate of my mouth because part of my surgery was done Transorally This was diagnosed asVelophyrangeal Insufficiency. I will once again have surgery August 29, 2000.

Surgery Procedures

Butterfly Are You Kidding?
The surgery in 2000 was not enough I'm continuing to have other problems. My brain has had some settling and is now resting on my C2 vertebrae. I will once again have surgery April 10,2001 to remove the C2 vertebrae and relieve the pressure. This will require anotherTransoral surgery.

Surgery Procedures

ButterflyThe past couple of years have been a very difficult time in my life. As my symptoms progressed I lost my job, my apartment, my independence, my social life, and just the general sense of feeling normal. Despite it all I feel that I am quite fortunate. When all is said and done I get a fresh start on life. How many people get to say that? Looks like another door just opened...

ButterflyQuestions? Comments? Don't forget to sign my GUESTBOOK. Let me know what you think! ButterflySee how I'm doing now! Click on my Blog