|I am so happy to be able to write about this experience and say that it is in the PAST! I never thought I'd see this day.|
I began displaying symptoms of Chiari after a surgery to remove a tumor
from my ear in 1997. Looking back now, I believe I have had some symptoms
for as long as I can remember. I guess when you live with something for so
long you think it is normal. But my severe, disabling symptoms came on when
I was 27, after my ear surgery.
The first symptoms that I noticed right away was loss of balance and dizziness. I kept returning to my ear doctor searching for answers. He had none for me, though. I was sent to several doctors throughout the year after my surgery. I was basically made to feel crazy. My symptoms became very disabling in October of 1998. I closed my day care center, which I had only opened a little more than a year before then. My symptoms were constant and even taking care of my own children became impossible. The worst symptoms were, breathing problems, loss of balance, dizziness, pain in my head and ears, swallowing problems, panic attacks seizures, feeling faint, fatigue, loss of control of extremities at times, visual problems, memory problems, severe anxiety/depression (loss of will to live), electric shock feelings in legs, burning in neck, shoulders, and upper back...
I became very desperate for a diagnosis. My younger sister, who had been diagnosed with a Chiari malformation two years prior, suggested that I have another MRI. At the time, we knew nothing about Chiari. My sister had been kind of accidentally diagnosed. She did not have many symptoms when they diagnosed her. She had been given an MRI due to a work injury, that is when they saw the Chiari. We were told nothing about it and never research anything. Now that I was having these problems, my sister thought that maybe Chiari was my problem. So I did some research, found Chip's page and scheduled an MRI.
The MRI did show a Chiari, but the doctors thought it was too mild to be causing my symptoms. I knew they were wrong. Finding a doctor to treat me was a battle in it self. But through perseverance and the support of Chip and the WACMA support group, I finally found a surgeon who believed my Chiari was indeed causing my problems. On March 24, 1999, I had my surgery. During the surgery my doctor found the my herniation was much deeper than it had looked on my MRI.
It has been eight years since my surgery. All of my pre op symptoms have disappeared. I did go through a battle with panic attacks after surgery. I believe the whole ordeal really shook me up inside and I needed emotional healing. The recovery process was slow physically and emotionally, but very worth it! I am a different person today than I was before. A better one I believe. I have learned so much from the trauma I have went through and I am actually thankful for the changes it has brought to my life. I have met many loving friends and feel as if I have so much more to give to others now.
I have recently wrote a book entitled The Angel Within Me. It is my struggle and triumph over my Chiari malformation and subsequent panic attacks. I am in the process of trying to publish in hopes to spread awareness and also give some hope to those who are going through what I have been through. Writing this book has helped me to heal a lot. So much happened so fast and putting it down on paper helped me to sort it all out. If that is all my book was meant for, it will have accomplished a lot! I would like to share the poem I wrote after my surgery with you, it is the basis of my book. Buy My Book Here
The Angel Within Me
Deep amidst the darkness,
beneath the shadowy plains,
I know there lies an angel in me
buried by all of life's pain.
Her wings they must be broken,
for she has been missing for some time.
I can vaguely remember her presence,
before her soul was broken from mine.
As I sift through all of life's rubble,
searching for a sign,
I hear her voice call out to me.
It sounds a lot like mine.
Then I see her arms reached out,
too far for me to hold.
In her eyes I see the past
of stories left untold.
The stories were that of sorrow,
old wounds that never healed.
I saw why my angel had stayed behind,
when the fears in my life were so real.
She left me not to hurt me,
rather trying to save my soul,
For with her she kept a piece of my heart,
so that nothing could hurt me in whole.
I held out my arms to my angel,
slowly we became one.
Then with all my strength I faced my past,
no longer would I run.
I have found the angel within me.
I have rejoined her and became whole.
Now that we are together again,
I can heal and love and grow.
By: Randi B. © 2007
Back to the chiari page