Nicole G. Post surgery

Hello all!

I would like to introduce our first featured Chiari story. It comes from a lovely lady named Nicole Gaudette. She has been kind enough to allow me to share her story with all of you in hopes that it can help someone else on their Chiari Journey.

As always, stay positive!

*Update on Nichole. She recently underwent decompression surgery in Mass. on September 11, 2015. She is recovering at home.

Hi my name is Nicole Gaudette. I am 44 years old and the proud mother of 3. In September 2011, I was diagnosed with Chiari. I had never heard of this condition until I had an MRI.

I first started having my migraines when I was 16. I fell at home from a dizzy spell. I tried to get up but couldn’t because my legs hurt and were numb. I was rushed to the hospital and was given a Myelography. (That is when a spinal catheter is used to put dye into the spine and a special X-ray is taken. Spinal fluid was also drawn.)

During the procedure, something went wrong. From that point on I continued to have migraines. I had several MRIs after that to find the cause of the migraines while I continued to suffer.

Over the years I continued to have migraines. My doctor would give me Demerol shots for the pain and then prescribe me Imitrex shots for the migraines. The shots made my head burn, but it was the only relief that even touched my migraines. My life was never the same.

In 1997 I had my daughter then my son in 1999. My pregnancy previous to these was via C-section. Delivery was tough. I had awful head pressure with both, but I thought it was just my usual migraines.

The summer of 1999 my family and I went to an amusement park. While there, I was on a ride where the walls spin, floor drops and you are stuck to the wall from the force of gravity. I became very ill. I couldn’t breath, my head hurt beyond words, and I thought I was going to die.

When I got off of the ride, my legs felt wobbly, I was weak all over. From this point things went down hill. I began to have migraines and pressure headaches more often. My legs, arms would go numb for no reason.

In 2009 I became a self-catheter patient due to urine retention. I also have problems with bowel movements. December 21, 2012 I had a single level c5/c6 fusion. After my diagnosis in September 2011, many doctors said Chiari was no big deal, and that it could not be the cause of all my problems.

Because of Chiari, I have lost some hearing in my left ear, my vision is blurry, I’m weak all over, and tired all the time. I have tried to work a regular job, but due to my condition, I haven’t been able to work since June 2011. I was approved for Social Security Disability after 4 years of fighting. Social Security doesn’t recognize Chiari Malformation as one of its “Disabling Diseases”.

In June 2015, I was finally given the go ahead to have decompression surgery. September 10, 2015 is the big day. Almost exactly 4 years after being diagnosed with Chiari Malformation.

I hope sharing my story will be able to help others struggling with Chiari and remind them to keep fighting, and don’t take “no” for an answer.

Keep Fighting,


Thank you for sharing Nichole!