Kimberly Simpson, 14, was recently diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. This is a rare but serious condition in which a small part of the lower brain descends into the spinal canal. This squeezes the brain and blocks the flow of spinal fluid, causing severe headaches, neck pain, and dizziness. It can also cause cognitive difficulties; struggles with breathing, and sleeping, lack of coordination, and significantly impact other areas of daily functioning. The malformation can be alleviated by decompression surgery, which is very costly and has to be done by a pediatric neurosurgeon.
Her surgery was scheduled for April 9, and will require at least a four-day hospital stay at Primary Children’s Medical Center.
State Bank of Southern Utah is helping her family with fundraising to pay for the overwhelming medical expenses. There is an account set up there.
Kimberly has had severe headaches for over a year and a half, going to different doctors, chiropractors, and massage therapists for relief. She has struggled to keep up in school and with dance. Her mother had to pull her out of school to study at home for the last two months of school in spring of 2017. A headache medicine, while promising relief, had made the headaches worse for a while. Because she had missed so much school during the year, some of her peers called her “the dead girl” and other names or simply ignored her.
Kimberly’s headaches improved some over the summer of 2017. She was able to go swimming and be more active with her friends. She also completed assignments at home to prepare to go back to school. She returned to school, but was bullied. This addition to her health problems sent her into a depression. She would come home from school crying and had significant struggles with school work. She was treated for depression and began to feel better. She was determined to stick it things out and stay in school. She still missed a substantial amount of school due to the headaches and other illness, but attended as much as she could. She tried to stay active in PE and dance. However, during the thanksgiving and Christmas break, she had a nearly constant headache.
In March her doctor ordered a brain MRI in which the Chiari Malformation was discovered. Kimberly has chosen to have a positive attitude; saying, “At least it isn’t a brain tumor.” Though terrified at the thought of seeing a neurosurgeon, she has been very brave; agreeing to have surgery as soon as possible. For the past several weeks, Kimberly has been extremely dizzy; unable to do much more than lie down or sit up. She has been unable to attend school, exercise or even walk around at the store because of the constant feeling she will black out. We are very hopeful that decompression surgery will restore her to normal functioning.