Heather Merritt The Merritt Family

First post: 6/13/2015 Latest post: 8/18/2016
If you are interested in supporting The Merritt Family financially please consider donating at http://www.youcaring.com/heather-merritt-370639. Currently, their medical expense are $550 per month so every little bit helps! - Ann Ehlert

Heather's Story

It all started in November of 2013. I had beenhaving horrible back pain for a couple years that just kept getting worse andworse.  I always assumed it was because I had overused my back and lifted heavy things and what not. I kept putting it off until my husband finally convinced me to make an appointment to see myprimary care doctor. After seeing him, he referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who decided to start his own span of X-rays and testing. In doing so, one ofthe X-rays had caught a mass around my carotid artery. Since this was now priority and something an orthopedic doctor didn't handle I was sent back to my primary for a cat scan that showed I had a tumor in my carotid artery and this was diagnosed as a very rare condition called Paraganglioma. 

It took me months to even pronounce it!!! Due to the fact that these tumors can grow significantly in size, we were already preparing for surgery at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Surgery took place in February of 2013. It was time to rest and heal. Full healing for this type of surgery should be about six months. Right after the surgery I had developed a hematoma or rather a blood clot had formed under the incision so this made my recovery a little longer than normal. Now it was time to deal with the underlying issue that I was originally being seen for, my horrible back pain. After getting many opinions on what was causing all this pain and discomfort my wonderful neurosurgeon confirmed that I had a condition called syrinx which meant there was cysts in my back, specifically two down my spinal cord that were slowly growing. These cysts are filled with spinal fluid that won’t allow the fluid to flow properly out of the cysts which has caused some extreme pain along with many other symptoms. My neurosurgeon has continued to monitor me and do testing.  

We have now gotten to the point that he feels I can no longer be managed by him or a hospital. His words were that I am a “university hospital case”. He told me I had my choice between Henry Ford Hospital or University of Michigan.  With the wonderful treatment we had at UofM the first time around, there was no question on what our choice was.  There are so many symptoms that come along with this that it’s hard to treat the mall.  It is so very complex and hard for me to still understand let alone explain. We have met with UofM hospital and the neurosurgeons there have donesome additional testing and confirmed that I have two more diagnosis to add tothe ongoing list which actually all go hand in hand. Those being the syrinx that was originally diagnosed and now Syringomyelia and a Chiari malformationat the base of the brain. These things have caused me some severe pain, some real struggles, a lot of emotions and a lot of explanations as to why I have been feeling the way I have been feeling to make a VERY long story short.  

My goal in all this and my true heart’sdesire is that God would be glorified in everything we do and the decisions we make. Without God in our life we wouldn't and couldn't get thru any of this. We are now on our way to UofM at the end of June for the second surgery with this new diagnosis. This might just be my health story but truly its Gods story about a portion of my life He already knew would exist.  Thank you all for your love, support, andprayers for myself and my family. God bless you all!! 

Ps I know there are a lot of medical terms that I have thrown out in this and it is still taking me timeto understand them all. Please bare with me as I am learning too. 


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