On Sept 19 I'm finally getting my headaches fixed! Well, hopefully
A little back story for those that care to read (sorry if it gets long-winded):
I have been having very bad headaches, or I should call it a single headache, for over a year now. It ranges in severity, but it's always there. The pain is generally in the area behind my right eye, but can travel to other areas in addition to being there. It can flare up on its own for no reason, sometimes after a bad cough, loud noises, or even if I laugh too hard. Sometimes I wake up in extreme pain with no explanation. After months of complaining to my wife about the headache, I finally gave in and went to the doctor to see what was up. I figured it was either migraines or worst case scenario maybe something wrong with my eye.
First visit they gave me stress headache meds. No good.
Second visit they gave me migraine meds. No good.
Third visit they gave me orders for a CT scan. A couple days later they called me to say that the CT looked clean with one exception, a "malformation" they had found at the base of my skull. They wanted to do a MRI to get a better look at it.
Went in for the MRI and it confirmed that I have what's called a chiari malformation. My cerebellum formed with some of it falling down out the base of my skull and into my spinal area. The cerebellum is squishing where it shouldnt be and is causing the headaches, and apparently is the source of my balance/coordination issues, random dizziness, and vertigo. It could also be related to my sleepless nights and restless leg syndrome. According to the surgeon, a malformation is considered to be anything past 3-5mm of a drop. My malformation was measured at 27mm I had never even heard of this before I was diagnosed with it.
This condition apparently happens when you are being formed in the womb from what I have read, and they don't know if there are any genetic relationships far as I know. I never had any issues as a kid. The symptoms I listed above, with exception of the headache, have been around since probably the time I grew into an adult. The specialist said maybe when I grew something shifted and started causing the symptoms. The headache seems to have appeared around the time we moved to our new house in June of last year, so I am thinking I did something to trigger the headache then. Maybe straining while picking up a piece of furniture, who knows...
They are going to expand the opening at the base of my skull by removing some bone, and since the malformation drops so far, they are also going to be removing some of the bone in the top couple of vertebrae of my neck. This should alleviate the pressure on my cerebellum and the symptoms should disappear. It should also remove any pressure to allow better flow of the spinal fluid to my brain.
The doc says it is a painful recovery since they have to cut through the neck muscle to do this procedure, but I have weighed the risks to the potential benefits and to me the answer is clear. I also feel very comfortable with this doctor (he is a neurosurgeon with a good knowledge and background of chiari), and I know that he would not let me move forward with surgery if he didn't feel I would benefit from it.
Please keep me in your thoughts on Thursday. Ill be taking a little nap and wake up in a start to a long and hopefully complete recovery from these symptoms that have bothered me for so long. I'm looking forward to having a more "normal" life.
For those that have made it through this novel without falling asleep, thank you for reading. I will do my best to update, but I'll probably be out of it for the better part of the weekend. If anyone is curious about the condition, lots of good reading here: http://www.conquerchiari.org/index.html