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Ask Someone Who Had Brain Surgery

So, it's fairly early where I am, and I have been wanting to do this for a while.

I had brain surgery.

Back story: I was born with a condition called Chiari I malformation. I linked it to the Wikipedia entry just for some of the medical mumbo-jumbo. But here is my personal experience.


So, this condition is pretty rare, if I remember correctly. Something like, one in a 1,000/10,000 births. I'm going off of what my neurologist told me when I was 9. Yes, diagnosed at 9. That's was about 13 years ago.

What I went through was wicked bad headaches. Like 'kill me now' headaches. For my entire life. One of my earliest memories about them was waking up at 5am everyday to take a semi-nap on our couch, after going to bed at 7:30pm because my head hurt so much. I also couldn't do sports-despite several valiant efforts. What would happen was would get extremely tired because of the headaches, plus ataxia. Not sure if that was related but basically it's when your muscles (legs for me) tense up. I don't know how else to explain it. But an odd gait is related, and I had that.


So, there was basically no cure until I was about 15/16. It got especially bad in high school, so my parents took me to a top hospital to a top neurosurgeon. I was already going through typical high school hell, and the condition was getting worse. The doctor said I had come just in time. At that point, whiplash would have put me in a wheelchair. So, I required emergency brain surgery. Almost experimental surgery. At that point in my life I was getting MRIs every year, so they knew the prognosis was getting worse.

What was basically happened-and this is how I explain it to people-is that my brain was growing faster than my head. Really, it's like my brain was slipping down into my spinal column. So when they wheeled me in (under anesthesia, where I was listing all the Roman emperors), I was going into a surgery that was supposed to be three hours. It was so bad, it took six. They removed a spinal disk, two spinal tonsils that were dying or something, and pushed my brain up a bit. Something like that. I spent three days in the hospital, until I insisted on getting out. Quick shout out to Nurse Dane, you were a total dick, dude.


Before I went back to school, I only remember being high on painkillers and watching Rosie on The View. So, pretty hazy.

Now, I have a radical scare on the back of my head, from my neck to half way up my head-great thing to pull out at parties! Got some PTSD, got depression, etc. Just the things I went through after major surgery. And I had to get MRIs every year for five years.


But I'm a-okay, and I'll try to answer all your questions before I have to do stuff. I'll put in edits to clarify.

Also, here's the before and after:

Illustration for article titled Ask Someone Who Had Brain Surgery

I think the one on the right is the before. It was a long time ago when I saw the x-rays, but you can see the differences.

Edit: it could be the one on the left. Looks more like my brain is slipping.

Ask away!

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