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Lightning Does Strike Twice

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In 2015, my niece, Dani Martin, was diagnosed with meningiocepholocele or a hole in her skull with a brain protrusion.   In addition, she already suffered from an auto-immune disease called Sarcoidosis in which her body attacks itself.  A CT scan found that she had Superior Canal Dehisence on both sides, as well.  This is  a set of hearing and balance symptoms, related to a rare medical condition of the inner ear.  In addition, she suffered from headaches, vision problems and constantly hearing her own heartbeat, a condition known as  Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension or Pseudotumor Cerebri. 

He doctors felt that that the overflow from her high spinal pressure has been leaking into her skull and had eroded away the bones. Although the dehiscence was worse on her left side, she had no bone between her brain and her inner ear on the right side.  On December 15, 2015, she had a right middle fossa craniotomy, which started with a bone graft, a repair of the semicircular canal.  As a result of the surgery she suffered from double vision and hearing loss.  She had hoped to feel better following the surgery, but instead she felt worse. The surgery wiped her out so totally, that she declined a second shunt surgery. 

Now, two and one-half years later, it was decided that she needed to have the same surgery done on the other side of her skull.  The surgery is now scheduled for July, 2018.

My niece has always worked hard, from the time that she was 15.  She currently has a good job, with medical insurance that will probably cover 80% of her hospital bill.  But she is a single mother who has raised two young men on her own.  She also has a three year old granddaughter.  The medical tests and the illness itself have used up her sick leave and vacation time.  She is facing up to three months of recovery from this surgery with no type of income to cover her bills and her portion of the medical expenses.

We all hoped that her first surgery would solve, at least, part of her health problems.  Instead, lightning has struck again.  Her family members are all on fixed incomes, but will still do what we can to help.  She is a fighter, but even the best fighters need help sometime.

To read more on these medical problems:



  • Kathy Bertram
    • $70 
    • 6 yrs


Thomas Birkeland
Tacoma, WA

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