Laura Olejniczak-Carmichael Laura's Chiari Battle

First post: 7/14/2017
Headaches have been a horrible part of my life for the past 8 years. My headaches and migraines recently had gotten so bad that they became daily dehabilitating life sucking monsters that took pieces of my life away from me daily. My head was getting so bad in January 2017 that it felt like I got hit in the back of the skull by a 2x4 every single day,and my previous neurologist wasn't interested in getting to the root of my problem.....he simply just sent prescription after prescription that never did anything to help the intensity of the pain or pressure in the back of my head. I knew something was very wrong because the pain just wouldn't quit. I went ahead and switched neurologists in February, and Dr Bubolz sent me in for an updated MRI so he could take a look at my skull and neck to see if he could find anything. I went in late April for the consult with the doctor, and finally got the answers I had waited for 8 long years. My scan showed a 16mm chiari malformation at the base of my skull. My previous Dr had missed it on 3 scans over the course of 8 years 😩😩😩😩 The chiari was a very significant size and causing me immense pain and daily headaches, because my brain is literally slipping out of my skull into my spinal column. The pain and pressure (feels like being hit by a 2x4)was from my brain being compressed so tightly into my skull that it is rubbing off the protective covering on my  brain (dura) and cutting off the brain fluid circulation which is causing issues with my nerves, movement of my legs, and so many other awful symptoms that the cerebellum controls. There was no other choice but to have decompression surgery to relieve the pain and pressure as soon as possible. Decompression surgery is a major surgery that operates on your brain and also your skull.


Surgery was scheduled for 6/28/17 at The Chiari Clinic at Columbia St Marys in Milwaukee, Dr Heffez a nationally recognized chiari specialist who took on my surgery. The surgery lasted approx 4 hours and was very successful. I had a lot of damage that was unexpected and not visible on the MRIs and Dr Heffez was able to make some alterations and complete the surgery with flying colors. Basically, he took out a portion of my skull to make extra room for my enlarged brain, then removed the parts of the brain that were dead/damaged from being compressed too long, shocked my healthy brain back into place, and added some mesh patches to the areas of the brain that were damaged from losing the protective covering, sealed it all up with a metal plate......and closed me back up! The brain fluid should finally be flowing like a normal person again 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻


I was in the ICU for a few days recovering and had to lay perfectly flat for 48 hours to give my brain the best chance to heal and to get the brain fluid pumping properly. After that, I was transferred to the general hospital floor for more observation and laying flat every 1 1/2 hours. After a few more days I was able to go home since I was doing so well! The recovery has been long and slow, but I am feeling better and better every day. I just had my 2 week post op check up, and things are healing nicely -but I have a fluid leak....so I still need to take it easy for another month.  Fluid leaks can be common, I am just a bit more prone to the leak because of all the additional damage they found during surgery. Another reason  I need to take it easy-we need those mesh patches to heal and close off the fluid leak 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻The doctor will reassess the leak in 4 weeks, and if it does not improve I may need a corrective surgery.😫😫😫😫😫  I am praying with all my might this doesn't happen! So, in the next few weeks I will still be taking it easy, I am doing a lot of work from home/but still keeping up with all my clients so please don't hesitate if I can help in any way, I am here! 2 new listings are hitting the market this week! I have lots of help! ❤❤❤Thank you to all my amazing family and friends for all of your love and support, I would never have made it through this difficult time without you all by my sides cheering me on and loving me through this. It truly does take a village, and I couldn't be more lucky to have such an amazing village to fall back on! Please continue to pray for the next 4 weeks, I need all the prayers I can get!  Sending all my love! ❤xoxoxo Laura 

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