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On December 20, 1996, I was at my sisters birthday party. I had just finished taking some pictures when I began to feel very faint and light-headed. It was a very scary feeling. I ran inside where I could sit down, thinking it would make me feel better. It didn't. After a while, I tried to get up and go back outside, but the feeling happened again. My parents were worried, and just to be safe, took me to the emergency room. When I got there they took me right back because carbon monoxide poisoning had not been ruled out yet {had a kerosene heater on in the garage at the party}. They did tests which ruled this and other things out. They found nothing. All they did was take me off of medicationI was on for an upper respitory infection, thinking I had a reaction to it. Then they sent me home. The next day, the same thing happened to me while I was out shopping with my best friend and her mom. They drove me home and I took it easy for the rest of the weekend. I went for a week without having any problems at all. I was even back at school. Now, looking back, I think, if only the 'feelings' would have ended there. But I believe God allows everything to happen for a reason, so I try not to dwell on this thought very often. Then, one day at school, I was with my same friend, and I felt lightheaded and faint again. It really surprised me, I had thought it was gone, never to come back. This friend that I was with has shown to be a very good friend through all of this, the best friend I have ever had. Lynn and I are especially close because of this. She never got 'sick' of me being sick all of the time. Always visiting, when she could have been out with other friends, she never gave up on me. This shows a true friend and it takes a very special person to deal with problems like these. In January of this year, I was sent to a cardiologist by my pediatrician. They did a test to check my blood pressure. When I almost fainted during this test, they diagnosed me with hypotension {low bp} and gave me medication to take care of it within a year. I got worse after this. Then I was sent to a neurologist. They did EEG to check for seizures which was negative. Then they did an MRI, which showed Chiari Malformation.

My 1997 Surgery Schedule:

February 1997, decompression surgery to release pressure on the brain.

April 1997, surgery to install shunt to remove fluid on the brain.

May 1997, surgery to drain shunt,check for infection and reroute shunt through atrium in heart instead of through stomach. This failed, so it was removed altogether.

September 1997, MfU showed that fluid normally surrounding the brain was collecting at a former surgical siteand scar tissue was forming also.

October 1997, surgery to remove scar tissue, a patch to stop fluid leak.

I am still having problems standing or walking without feeling faint. I can't go to school, parties, dance, or even to the store right now. I hope this will change, after the first of the year I am being sent to a cardiologist to check my heart. I am temporarily out of band because loud noises throw me for a loop, and had to quit playing the french horn {which I love} because blowing could cause damage to the brain. My life has definitely changed drastically in the last year, but it has also brought some positive changes to my life. I am closer to my family than ever before. I have also learned never to take things for granted because you never know when they can be taken away. People take their health for granted. A lot of times, as long as things are going smoothly in their own lives, they don't give the time of day to others. I've learned that you should never be like that because it hurts the person that is sick and you never know when that person could be you. If you ever have a friend that is sick, treat them like you would if they were well, don't leave them out, but yet, go out of your way to make them feel like they're still important.

Fallon Guyton


   On Feb 18, 1998, I had a second decompression surgery. They removed some more bone, part of my cerebullar tonsils, put teflon between a blood vessel and my brain stem because the vessel was pressing on the brain stem, and he unexpecedly found a suture in my brain stem which he removed. The operation was over 7 hours. When I woke up in ICU, my left arm was doing crazy things and wouldn't listen to what I told it to do. Also, when I got up to start walking again I was off balance even more than before. My doctor told me these symptoms were probably due to swelling. The gave me a walker which I used for a few days after I got home to walk with. Now it has been 2 wks since surgery. I am still having some trouble with my left arm/hand and some trouble with balance but I am better. Last night, I went out for the first time in three months. I went out to a store and to watch my sister at gymnastics. Guess what!!! No problems at all. Maybe 15 months and 6 surgeries later, things are finally coming together for me again. I can live a semi-"normal" life.

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by Fallon Guyton

Wouldn't it be great if time could be turned back one year?
All that has happened to me since then has made one thing very clear.
Even though I am living differently than before,
All of this has made me realize one thing for sure.
Sometimes I complain about this disorder,
Because it makes so many fun times, become shorter.
At times I get very angry that this could happen to me,
But it all happened for a reason, possibly for me to see,
That though this illness makes me wonder why,
it could actually be a blessing in disguise.
It has shown me what I have taken for granted in life,
Especially the fact that I am thankful to be alive!

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