david.jpg (5363 bytes)      David's Story

, my name is David. I am eight years old. I am in the 3rd grade. I am going to tell my story.
Hi, my name is Becky and I am David’s mom. I will fill in the story with a mom’s point of view.

David: I have had headaches for a long, long time. My neck hurt a lot and I had trouble with my legs. Sometimes I got dizzy for no reason. I had this ringing in my ears. Then I couldn’t run very fast.

Mom: David had a history of headaches, neck pain, and stomachaches. Then in the summer of 1997 he had a grand mal seizure. After numerous tests, an MRI revealed ACM1 with a 5mm herniation. The doctors suggested a wait and see approach. He was given pain medication to help with the head and neck pain. In the Fall of 1998 we noticed that David’s headaches were becoming more severe and he was having difficulty running. He had slowed down considerably. He began complaining of leg and arm pain. Then he had a couple of weeks where it was difficult for him to walk. The doctors did two more MRI's. This time the herniation was at 13mm.

David: So I had to go to Iowa City to see another doctor. He said I should have surgery. I was scared and wanted to get out of there. I was nervous but I was tired of having headaches and trouble with walking. But I didn’t decide to have surgery. My mom and dad did.

Mom: We took David to Iowa City Hospitals and Clinics to see Dr. Menezes. He said the MRI and the history David presented made him a candidate for surgery. After doing a lot of research and corresponding with people who have ACM, we opted for surgery as soon as possible. He was scheduled for Oct.13, 1998.

David: The day before surgery I had to go to the hospital to have tests. It took a long time. I was really scared because the day was close and I really didn’t want to do it. But we went to a hotel and I got to go swimming and that got my mind off of things. But I missed my sister and wanted to go home.

Mom: The day before surgery can be summed up in one word—FRANTIC! You have doubts, hesitation , and questions. We stayed in a hotel but made arrangements with the Ronald McDonald house for the rest of our stay. The doctors suggested it could be 7 to 12 days before David would be leaving the hospital.

David: I had to be at the hospital at 6:oo a.m. My surgery was at 10:00 so it was really, really boring. But the good thing was they said I could bring my doggie to surgery and Pastor Andy came to get my mind off of things. Then I had to go downstairs and I was really, really scared. They gave me an I.V. The anesthesiologist talked to me and did the hula! My dad, mom, and my pastor got to stay with me while they got me ready. And they let my mom stay with me until I went to sleep in the operating room. That’s the last I remember.

Mom: And then the waiting. Five hours worth. It was so helpful to have friends to help pass the time. After surgery Dr. Menezes explained all they had done but we only wanted to see David. We were taken to the recovery room. He was hooked up to lots of machines and was partially shaved in the back with a 10 inch bandage on the back of his head and neck. He also had a soft neck brace on. His face appeared quite swollen to us. But he was alert(somewhat) and said he wanted to go home! They immediately took him to ICU.

David: I HATED ICU. Mostly I hated that neck brace. It was so uncomfortable. I had a headache too. But I talked the nurse into taking the brace off but I could still feel a big bandage. But I got used to it. It was boring in ICU. All the nurses keep checking on me and I thought it was a bad dream. But they let me play Nintendo 64 a bit but it was hard. My mom and dad took turns staying with me.

The back of my head looked like this!

Mom: What a night that was! David was in a pediatric ICU and was attended to by his own nurse. She was wonderful and answered all our questions. He was being given three kinds of antibiotics,steroids, and painkillers through an IV.. He had all those monitors on him and they checked routinely. The neck brace was only for his own comfort so it wasn’t a problem removing it. His face gradually lost that swollen look. David wouldn’t tell them when he was in pain so they had trouble regulating his pain meds at first. That was the hardest to watch—when he waited too long it became unbearable for him and it took some time for the pain meds to "kick" in.

David: The next day the let me out of ICU. They took most of those wires off. I felt better then. I felt kind of dizzy. I was sleepy a lot of the time. It was fun to have people come and visit me. I had to use a wheelchair but I didn’t like it. I felt good when I tried walking because I knew I was getting better. The food was nasty! Sometimes I had nightmares and scary feelings but that went away.

Mom: David was out of ICU after 16 hours. On the Neurosurgery floor he had a private room. He was much more comfortable. The second day he was walking with assistance. He was a bit dizzy but kept trying. He wanted out badly! The nightmares and hallucinations he had were scary for all of us. We think they were a side effect of the steroid medication he was on. It was definitely not a direct result of the surgery itself. After 4 days David was only on Tylenol for pain. They removed his bandage exposing the incision and 32 stitches. He was released 4 days after surgery.

David: I was glad to get home. I was feeling okay but I didn’t like people seeing my scar. I also didn’t like it that I couldn’t ride my bike or rollerblade for 6 weeks. And I couldn’t go to school (that part wasn’t too bad) so I had to have a tutor who was actually my teacher! That part was nice.

Mom: We were so glad to bring David home and have the family back together! However he developed a high fever and we almost had to return. It turned out to be an infection caused by not walking enough (he had a bad headache upon returning and was afraid to move around). After that minor setback he recovered nicely. The hardest part was keeping him busy and active without too much intensity!

Dad: The clinical diagnosis for David was symptomatic Chiari 1 malformation with tonsillar impaction and partial occlusion of foramen of Magendie. The cerebellar tonsils were extended to the C1-C2 interspace. They were atrophied and the Doctor chose to cauterize them. Two arteries that were impacted were sprung loose. The C1 arch was partially removed. A dural patch was used. For those who like the technical stuff the operation was a posterior fossa craniotomy, partial c1 laminectomy, Lysis of fourth ventricular adhesion and rerouting of posterior inferior cerebellar arteries, cervical fascia duraplasty, and intraoperative ultrasonography. The good news is that David feels GREAT!

David: I feel lots better. Sometimes I get a bit dizzy after I play hard. I just get little headaches, not the big ones.

Mom: I’d say that he probably feels better than he has all his life. The dizziness and headaches should diminish as he continues to recover. He has a few restrictions (no contact sports for example) but should be resuming a full and active life quickly! We have no reservations about doing the surgery. We believe that it would only have gotten worse if we had waited. David’s quick recovery was answered prayer and a blessing for all of us. Thanks to all who had a part in his recovery process!!!!!

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