Category Archives: My Chiari diary

I have decided to post these. These were some of my thoughts during the first part of my journey.

One Year Post Decompression

Hello everyone.  I know that I haven’t posted anything new in a while but there are some really good reasons for my lack of attention to my blog.  I have been busy these last 6 months being myself again.  I do have some minor things that pop back up if I over do things.  But otherwise I feel great.  It has been such an amazing journey, and not one that I ever want to repeat of course.

Last year before surgery I was in constant pain from the skull base pressure headaches, my balance was off by a mile and  the left side of my face and my left hand were numb to any sensation .  In addition to all of this I developed central sleep apnea and I was mildly addicted to pain meds and lived in a fog.  There were other things also but these listed were my biggest problems.

So now I am back to wrestling the kids, teaching hands on rescue classes, fighting fire and being a full time paramedic.  We have started some home improvement projects that I am once again capable of doing.  Yeah it sounds like I am cured.  I’m not of course just a whole lot better off compared to a year ago.  I found this out the hard way of course.  We had a fire in a large multi floor home and short on man power.  After going through three airpacks of air and then working the outside of the structure for a bit I found my headache again.  Luckily I work with a good group that  made me sit out for a bit and even arranged for my meds to come to the scene.  The only bad thing they did was tell my wife on me. LOL.

Now that I have learned my limits I am doing well.  I know what I am capable of and just how far I can push before I put myself down for the count.  Yes I will probably push things in the future because that is me but I know just how far I can push now.  To all those out there with Chiari Malformations I hope and pray that you too can find at least this kind of result.  To those that have tried but still suffer I hope and pray that research can find new ways to help each and every one of us.

Take care and be safe.  Kyle

2010 Update

January 2nd, 2010

Hello everyone and Happy New Year.  This year I am hoping and praying that My family and I will be safe and stronger.  I thought that 2008 and 2009 were the worst years of my life while they were happening.  Now as I look back I realize that they were not the worst.  Yes I developed Chiari and had decompression surgery and we lost my Father in Law to Cancer in those years but there were some major high points that I now see.

Decompression surgery was and is still a success!  My wife and I grew closer than I ever imagined.  I met some great people online in the Chiari community.  I met some terrific Healthcare people.  I also found support from people who I least expected it. And most of all I believe that I rediscovered my faith.  Even though we went through some really bad times all the things that I mentioned above were greater than our defeats.  Friends and family and new found friends came through to help when it was least expected and I am very Thankful for them.

This has renewed my faith in the world that there are individuals and groups out there that do care and will act upon that feeling.  This is what keeps the Human Race plugging on and growing.  May we all learn that even a little compassion can go a long way in helping each other whether we know the person closely or just in passing.

Most of all to my wife I say this.  God Bless you My Love.  You stayed by my side through it all.  You have been so strong.  There were so many times that I could not see your suffering, fear and pain through my own.  There were times that I knew that you were hiding it all from me. At those times I knew that if I said anything it might break your resolve but mostly I was unable to help you because I could barely help myself.   I realize how much that it hurt you to see me like I was,  because I see the twinkle in your eye now watching me be me again.  I am sorry that I was unable to be stronger at times for you and I hope that I am able to do that now.  I want to be there for you and the kids and that is my ultimate goal this New Year.

Six months Post Decompression

I am now a little over 6 months post decompression.  I am doing very well to say the least.  I am so thankful to have my life back.  I recently realized how symptomatic I was before surgery.  Too think that I actually wanted to put it off at one point.  Jessi (my beautiful wife)  and I were talking about some of the things that I was doing before surgery the other day.  I did not realize that I was dropping off mid-sentence and not finishing my thoughts.  I was not only losing words at that point but whole thoughts.  I do not remember reading anything about that kind of cognitive problems associated with Chiari.

I have recently found some new studies on neuro function that are pretty amazing.  Not only does the cerebellum control motor function but it also discerns auditory and focal processes.  That means that cognitive function can be drastically affected by Chiari.  I recently spoke to my old partner at work and thanked him graciously for carrying me.  If if weren’t for him I never would have been able to work as long as I did before surgery.  He is a great guy.

So now that I am better what does this mean for me?  Well I have been thinking about a lot of things lately.  Such as how long I can keep up being a paramedic?  Just because I am back to work and functioning 100 % now doesn’t mean that I can keep putting my body through 24 hour shifts, lifting on people and climbing upside down in cars.  Yes just recently i’ve been upside down in a car with a 70-year-old lady.  She is doing well though, but I digress.

I am considering getting either my Physician’s Assistant or my Nurse Practitioner and looking for a neuro that needs an experienced medical professional and Chiarian.  It will mean going back to school but my wife thinks I can do it.  She has been my rock, my love, my nurse and so much more through all of this.  I am so thankful for her.  We celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year.  It wasn’t a huge celebration but it was very special for us.

So take heart.  There is life with Chiari.  I know that I have been fortunate with my journey and it is not always this way.  But I wish all that suffer from this the best days possible and that soon there will be more that can be done for us and that we can all rest easier because of it.

And so I sign off today with this.  Take care and be safe.  Remember BIG FIRES START SMALL!

Chiari Entry no. 6, 7, 8

Chiari Diary  No. 6   Sunday, March 08, 2009 

 I have seen Dr. Oldfield and I have a completely new outlook on my situation.  Everything is scheduled.  Despite what Cleveland Clinic said I am going to have the surgery.  I believe that Dr. Oldfield’s opinion is more accurate.  I still have the sleep study scheduled and I am going to do it because UVA wants to know for surgical reasons.  I will be leaving here on March 24th so I can have all the presurgery stuff done on the 25th.  I will then have surgery on the 26th.  They expect me to be out of the hospital in 3-5 days and spend a couple of days in a motel room near the hospital.   After that we will be headed home.  My family and friends have been very supportive and understanding.  Jessi will keep everyone advised of my progress via email, text, phone and this blog.  So check in on the 27th or 28th and see how it went.

Also I would like for everyone to check out Zipperhead Productions.  This is a fellow Chiarian that is setting up concert productions to rasie money for rare medical disease research including Chiari.  He is a great guy.  He is working hard to help us all so let’s support him.  Follow the following link to see what he is up to.

Till then Take care and be safe


Chiari Entry No. 7   Wednesday, March 25, 2009 


Hello everyone.  Well it is official,  I will be a Zipperhead by 4:00 pm tommorrow.  Dr. Oldfield and his staff have been excellent.  They have been informative, supportive, and compassionate all roled into one.  I won’t lie, I am not looking forward to this.  However I am looking forward to feeling better in the future.  They will be starting the procedure around 10:30 am and should be out and in NICU around 5:00 pm.  So check back tommorrow night for an update.  Till then take care, be safe and may your pain be at least manageable.


Chiari Entry No. 8  Saturday, March 28, 2009 

  Hello.  I am two days post op.  My balance is much improved.  I have the fuzzy headed feeling from pain meds and muscle relaxers.  Almost no tingling or numbness in hands and face.  I have had only one migraine since the procedure and they got it broke with pain meds.  I am very stiff and sore from surgery and still on pain meds, muscle relaxers and antiinflammatory and such for that.  That is all for now.  TTYL

Chiari Entry No. 5

Chiari Entry No. 5  Feb. 17th, 2008

Hello again.  It is Feb. 17th (Tristan’s Birthday).  I have visited the Cleveland Clinic and I am kind of confused.  Dr. Luciano seems to want to attribute all of my symptoms to sleep deprivation.  He thinks that I may have sleep apnea.  If I have Central sleep apnea then it is Chiari related.  However if my sleep habits are not related to sleep apnea then what is it? They do not want to do surgery as of yet but want me to do a 6 month follow up MRI and sleep studies in between.  I have been taking the Imipramine now for a month.  My sleep habits have improved from this but I still have the other symptoms.  I guess the headache is a little better too.  I am supplementing with narcotics for pain only when needed.  The question is this.  Is the imipramine only helping me sleep or is it doing it’s job by acting on the pain receptors and such?  What to do now?

University of Virginia wants to see me for surgical consultation on Feb. 25th.  They actually express a desire to do surgery.  I know that Dr. Oldfield is a leader in the Chiari field but there is the opinion of Dr. Luciano at Cleveland to consider. 

 What I know:  This may/probably get worse.  Worse means; more and worse headaches, more balance issues, swallowing problems, speech effected and I will eventually develop a syrnx (which sucks).  The syrnx will not just go away and the only real treatment for it is decompression surgery.  Sometimes this all stabilizes out and does not get worse other than the syrnx.

Options:  Continue the way I am and see what happens with the sleep study.  Search for other treatment options such as medications.  Suck it up and do the surgery with the chance of no change or worsening post surgery.

Right now I am going to listen to Dr. Oldfield’s suggestions and ask a lot of questions.  Then I will revisit this page.  So off to bed with me.

Chiari Entry No. 4

Chiaria Entry  No. 4: December 31, 2008

Well it is Dec. 31, 2008 and I have agreed with Jessi to get the ball rolling toward surgery.  She has been very stressed with everything going on with me lately.  I now have nausea every time that I eat.  Not enough to send me to the bathroom to vomit but enough to be uncomfortable and aggravated with it.

I have elected not to run Fire calls at the station unless I can do so without being in an operatational role.   I feel that my balance is too bad to allow me to be in operational situations.  I am afraid of falling or having a problem and getting hurt or worse, getting one of my peers hurt.  My chief doesn’t want me to take medical leave.  He wants me to stay involved in other ways.  I can do that.  It actually means a lot to me to be around the gang.

I did however get my Christmas wish.  Christmas Eve and Day were pain free with minimal other problems. I was able to enjoy the kids opening presents and the rest of the family getting together.  It was a terrific Christmas.  Jimmy got the kids all Nerf guns that shoot the soft bullets.  The adults had as much fun with them as the kids.  Maggie got here cell phone which was classic.   She opened everything and no phone then we called her phone and had here find it and answer.. When she answered I told here Merry Christmas and to thank her Nanny.  The look on her face was the best.  Jessi got me an audio book because reading for long periods causes problems.  She also got me a titanium wedding band because I have bent and broken my gold one at work.  It is perfect for me. She also got me a St. Christophers medal that I put on immediately. She did so good but was so worried that I wouldn’t like it.   I loved the gifts they were thoughtful and expressed her need to help take care of me and make things easier and at the same time they were things that I needed and wanted.  What can I say she loves me.

Anyway.  I am definetly going to UPMC for surgery and for a second opinion at Cleveland Clinic.  A couple of different family members have offered to help with bills like our house payment while I am off work.  What a blessing.  Not much else to say today so I will leave it at that.