This is my sister Carmen Richardson. In August 2008 she was diagnosed with a life threatening condition commonly unknown in the medical community still called Chiari Malformation. This is a congenital abnormality of the cerebellum (lower brain) in which the brain is herniated out of the base of the skull into the spinal canal thus blocking the flow of cerebral spinal fluid and causing pressure on the spinal cord and brain stem. The night she was diagnosed, she had spent weeks in and out of the emergency room complaining of crippling headaches and symptoms that the doctors explained off as migraines and kept sending her home. But on August 18, 2008 a travelling neurosurgeon was working the ER when she noticed the doctors staring at an MRI and again dismissing it as normal and the patient obviously suffering some sort of migraine and wasting hospital staff time. She immediately interrupted the conversation, explained the severity of the MRI she was looking at and asked to see the patient in question. Once she saw Carmen, she ordered that she be hospitalized immediately and began preparations for an emergency and life saving operation. On August 20, 2008 Carmen underwent her first in a multitude of brain surgeries and her life was changed forever. The life saving surgery involved brain decompression (sucking all oxygen from the brain for a time) and removal dead portions of the cerebellum. A once state and county recognized Middle School ESE Math Teacher of the Year (numerous times) was left relearning to walk, talk and do basic life skills with no knowledge or concept at all of numbers.
Push forward to January 2014, Carmen just completed her 14th brain surgery. While this condition is not to date curable, doctors are working hard to give her a "bearable" quality of life. Under the care of the best neurosurgeon (my opinion), Dr. Paolo Bolognese, Carmen must travel from Florida to New York in order to have these surgeries at the North Shore-LIJ Hospital. After this last surgery, Carmen is finally experiencing life with less pain - she kind of likes it.
This condition is normally discovered in early childhood and because of misdiagnoses, has been fatal. Did I mention Carmen is 54 years old. The neurosurgeon that diagnosed her condition refers to her as the miracle women. In such severe condition, it is still unexplained how she has lived this long. Well, I'd like her to stay around longer. I have never seen a person so strong in the face of constant pain and surgeries. All the doctors and nurses that have been attending her say the same - this girl is a model for us all.
And the reason for this page? Declared 100% disabled and attempting to live off social security benefits, she really has no funding to pay the bills that have been piling up over the years. For these many years I have been helping my sister but the monetary burden has just overwhelmed us. Any assistance you can provide my sister would help. We can't offer a tee shirt or bracelet, all we can offer is thanks in advance.
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