ARIANE O'BYRNE Ariane is a member of The Millennial team and recently has been diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation. In this article she gives accounts of her health struggles both past and present
I'VE ALWAYS known when my body isn’t right or in bad condition. In the past year I’ve been in and out of Doctor and A&E with headaches, vision problems and now numbness in my left arm, left hand side of my face and right leg with extreme fatigue meaning I genuinely cannot function day to day without napping a minimum of 3 hours. I was told that my tiredness was due to laziness and lack of exercise, my headaches were due to stress and my vision problems were due to ocular migraines. I kept thinking to myself ‘these people aren’t listening to me, my headache isn’t a normal pain, it’s like an electric shock passing through my head, my vision isn’t a migraine and I’m not abnormally tired because I’m lazy’.
For the last few months I’ve woken at night unable to feel my left arm; hitting it off my bed in desperate need to wake it up and to get sensation back into it. Little by little I was starting to gain numbness in my legs, arms and left hand side of my face. I woke up recently from my ‘lazy nap’ in which I couldn’t feel my mouth, it was like a dentist dosed me up with numbing injections. At the time of writing this it’s 2am and I haven’t slept because I’m starting to have problems swallowing and feeling numbness in my throat.
I was sent to A&E and was told by the doctor "maybe in a few years something might come up and you’ll say, oh that’s why you experienced numbness; there’s a million things it could be but for now just go back to your GP".
Angry wasn’t even what I felt, I felt like the whole world was against me and my body was crying out for answers but no one was trying hard enough to give them to me. I visited my GP and told him my symptoms. I explained to him that the doctor from A&E wanted to do bloods to test for an under active thyroid and he looked at me like I had 12 heads, he said "numbness isn’t a symptom of that, this is crazy I’m sending you now for a brain scan...
...It sounds like MS’.
The most frightening sentence came from his mouth, but for the first time a doctor told me that my excessive sleeping wasn’t normal and I had faith in him. Even though I heard the worst possible illness come from his mouth, I thought ‘finally someone is listening to me’.
Thank God my scan came back clear, no MS, no tumors and no stroke.
However, something did show. It’s called a Chiari Malformation and in baby language it means the cerebellum of my brain is 17mm out from my skull and sitting on my spinal chord, causing a build up of pressure and fluid in my brain in which I’ll need to get surgery to fix. I’m scared but brain surgery to a brain surgeon is routine, it’s like me scanning grapes everyday (I work in a shop)- I’m used to it.
If left untreated I could have easily become paralyzed due to the lack of fluid being sent down my spinal chord.
I was told I was lazy, I was stressed and that I was an interesting case, but imagine if I had never fought for answers and went to my GP, I could’ve lived a very difficult life in the future.
So listen to your body, if you know something isn’t right fight until you’re supplied with sufficient answers, don’t let anyone make you feel as though you don’t know your own body, because you do.
I’ve saved my life and I’m only 21- I listened to my body, I knew myself something was wrong and I was right.