A Mom remembers the battle she had to fight for her daughter,who's battling Chiari Malformation, to walk on the stage with classmates.
A few years ago, Kati went from being a straight-A student and basketball star to being confined to her home when she was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a disorder that causes severe headaches and dizziness because the skull doesn't contain the base of the brain.Because of her illness, Kati is a few credits shy of receiving her diploma, and school officials banned her from participating in graduation. However, after 400 members of the community signed a petition to allow Kati to walk on stage, officials decided in a 5-2 vote to allow her to participate in the ceremony.
Friend of Mom•Logic and pediatrician Dr. Gwenn says that many people like Kati don't know they have Chiari Malformation until they reach their teenage years. In its most severe form, the malformation can push into the spinal column, causing major issues with pain and balance.Mom•Logic spoke with Kati's Mom, Christina, who shared her daughter's personal story.
Mom•Logic: When did Kati start experiencing symptoms?
Christina: In the summer heading into her 8th grade year, Kati went to stay with a friend of mine and visited several amusement parks. When she returned home she complained about lightning bolt cramp headaches in the back of her head. She said they felt like brain cramps.
We ended up taking Kati to a pediatric neurologist, who did an MRI on her brain. He diagnosed Kati with Chiari Malformation, a genetic condition affecting the brain.
Mom•Logic: After Kati was diagnosed, how did her life change?
Christina: Kati was diagnosed in February 2004. Shortly after, she underwent her first brain surgery, where they removed a section of the back of her skull to pull the pressure off the back of her brain. A few months later, Kati went downhill again.
Kati stumbled through her freshman year in high school. We ended up taking Kati to a specialist in New York. She is full of titanium and screws, but the disorder has progressed.
Each year, Kati missed more and more school and has been homebound for the last three years. She lost her ability to sit in a desk and be in school. She was passing out and hitting her head on things. And at home, she would black out in the shower or while brushing her teeth. Over the last few years, we've watched her suffer more and more from severe nausea, dizziness, head pain, joint pain, and it's stifled her ability to attend classes.
Mom•Logic: Why is walking in the graduation ceremony so important to Kati?
Christina: My daughter has felt so disconnected. Graduation day is an exciting day and also a sad day for high school seniors. It's one of the last times they're together before going their separate ways. It's the one day Kati can feel connected to her friends and classmates and feel like she's part of something. It's a milestone for her. High school graduation happens once in a person's lifetime. These are the kids she grew up with, played sports with, and had slumber parties with.
Kati isn't expecting a free ride--she wants to continue working with her teacher until she completes her credits. Kati could outlive me or die in two years, we just don't know. Her health problems are very severe right now, and the joy, peace of mind, and satisfaction of walking in graduation will really help Kati. It's the one thing she really wants.
What do you think of the high school's decision?