Saturday, July 1, 2017

Deja Vu...It can happen to you (Um, I mean...Me!)

News Flash:  I am an addict.

There, I said it.  I need a twelve step program for addicts.

I am addicted to  Totally addicted.

I can't put two sentences on paper without using it as a reference.  I get "Word of the Day" email alerts and I thrive on acing every quiz on the website.  Maybe that makes me more of a nerd than an addict.  Either way, it's a problem I am aware of and I plan, one day, to seek help.

But, not today.

Today I referenced, deja vu.   I needed to be certain of using the term appropriately.  Here is what has to say about this term:


Psychology. the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time. 
disagreeable familiarity or sameness: 

My focus is on the second definition.  Because, this is where I live right now, in a state of disagreeable familiarity about what is going on inside my skull.   I'm not happy about it.  Not one bit, but it's time to face the music. 

It's happening again.  All of it. 

Around January or February, sporadic headaches began to come in more frequency, dizziness, pressure...not continual, just subtle reminders that yes, I have a less than normal situation existing within my skull.   Slowly, these issues have increased, or perhaps morphed is a better word..into almost constant neurological issues. Pressure headaches wax and wane, but feel I have on a tight headband at all times, in varying degrees of tightness.  Vision problems hit me hard about two months ago, and now added to that is a constant high pitched hum that drowns out everything except the constant dialogue I have going on inside my head. 

The dialogue has been going something like this, "Am I dreaming this? Is it really happening? Should  I go to the doctor?  Do I need a doctor?  I don't have a doctor. This will go away in a few minutes. I have to go to work. Does anyone care?  Do I care? Should I tell someone? Who should I tell? Does anyone really care?  Will my family be annoyed? What the heck is going on here?"

Over the course of the past several weeks, I have been in touch with my neurosurgeon's office and will be going back to Houston July 10-11 for a new set of scans and a face to face with the man himself, Dr. Dong Kim.   Dr. Kim is a world-class neurosurgeon.  He does not claim to be a "Chiari Specialist", but he is a brain tumor rock star.  By definition, arachnoid cysts are considered to be a form of brain tumor.   Since I have a custom cranial combo of Chiari and Arachnoid Cyst...Dr. K is the guy for me to see first.  He performed my Chiari Decompression and Arachnoid Cyst Fenestration in 2013, then my Cranioplasty and Intracranial shunting in 2014.  He told me then that if we got to 5 years post op we were likely home free.   Now, I am three years post op and feel like I've done really well.  No complaints from me.  I've traveled all over the world.  I work a rigorous full time job. I have a full, beautiful life that would not have been as full without the last two surgeries. 

So now, here we go again.. 

I hesitated to post on my blog about this...or anywhere.  For two reasons: 1. In recent years, I've dropped out of Facebook Chiari Support groups due to so many bullies in those groups (which is really the saddest thing I've ever seen)  and in recent years, I've dropped out of the lives of many people.  

Not too long after my second surgery in 2014, tragedy hit my family.  At the time, I was busy coaching others with Chiari, helping them rebuild their lives.  I was very involved in support groups in Dallas and I felt great about being the advocate I had become for others.  Yet, when tragedy hit home (which I won't go into, but if you know me personally...then you know),  I did not get support in return.  I got lashed out at, dropped, deleted, snapped at, even slandered.  So, I just retreated from it all. 

A few months ago, when symptoms started returning, I stuck my head into a few groups and honestly, am appalled at the bullying that still goes on.  I have found only a few places that feel supportive and I am truly deeply saddened that some people have turned their own physical pain into a weapon to use against others.   Really, people that live with neurological challenges need each other.  We need the understanding of other people that have been right where we are, face the same challenges, have the same thoughts and fears. 

So, here I am.  I'm putting my thoughts and words out into the world again on this blog.  I realize there is purpose in all of this.  Writing about my experience may only help one person, but one person is enough.   

In the past, I've held back a little on this blog.  I didn't realize it until I re-read some old blog entries.  Those days are over.  Expect the writing to  be more raw,  real,  even visceral.  Remember, if you don't like what I have to say, you have the write to not read.  Exercise your rights.  I'm all for you. 

So, here is an excerpt of my personal journal entry from yesterday: 

My ears ring so loudly I can barely hear over the deafening hum. 
When I stand too quickly (which is normal pace for the rest of the world) I can hear almost nothing for 5-10 seconds.  The pressure in my head is so strong and forceful on standing that I have to stop in my tracks.  There is no choice.  I have to stop. I can't even speak at these times, only pause, wait then slowly, press on.
I’m back where I was 4 years ago. I feel like I am constantly wearing a very tight headband. 
Very tight. 
Pain…ever constant in my head, neck, shoulders.  Dull pain, or sharp pain.  Some pain- 98% of the time. 
I’m mad about it. 
I don’t know how to not be mad about it.  Or frustrated. Or sad.  I am all of these things. 
The thought, the mere thought of another brain surgery makes my insides wince.  I don’t know if that will be the answer, but if so, I don’t know how I will get through it a third time.  I also don’t know what I will do if Dr. K says there is nothing to do about it, just live with it.  I know nothing at this point.  In 10 days I will be in Houston looking at scans with him.  He will be hugging me and kissing my cheek like every time I’ve seen him before.  
Whatever the outcome, I will rally and face it boldly.  My face may be tear streaked, but my chin will be held high and I will not give in to pain or fear.  
I’ve changed over the past three years.  I’m stronger now. Stronger for myself. Stronger because I had to be.  I realize the only person that can advocate for me is me.  
So, I’ve got a lot of work to do. 

Deja Vu...A disagreeable familiarity or sameness.   The word totally fits. 

My Constricted Cranium...the Saga Continues. 


  1. I am here for you Sis, no matter what happens it's going to be ok, your not alone in this. Strength is your badge of honor, you have earned it.

    1. We have both earned it. Can't believe I'm saying this...but, See you next week! (silver lining)