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Successful surgery gives woman with rare condition a better life

Amanda's Story

If you’ve recently had surgery at Regina General Hospital, there’s a chance you received a call from Amanda Chase, a scheduler at the hospital.

When Amanda calls to prepare you for surgery, she’s speaking from experience. At just 33 years old, she has had more surgeries than most people twice her age, 101 surgical staples and more stitches than doctors can count.

In August 2012, Amanda was driving home from Katepwa Beach with her two kids when another vehicle slammed into her driver’s side at an intersection. She was airlifted to Regina General Hospital where, the next day, she had reconstructive surgery to repair her left elbow. She would require two additional surgeries to remove glass from her hand.

“They told me I was only going to get 30 per cent of the use of my arm back when I went into surgery because of how much damage there was,” Amanda recalls. “After surgery and physiotherapy at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre, I’m now only 30 per cent shy of being 100 per cent normal.”

Doctors will never know if the trauma of Amanda’s accident led to the rare condition she was diagnosed with fours year later. It started with a sneeze that hurt her finger. A second sneeze rendered Amanda’s arm unmovable, prompting her to go to Regina General Hospital’s emergency room. Initially, staff thought she was having a stroke. The doctor suspected something was wrong with her spine and sent Amanda for medical resonance imaging (MRI), which led to a life-saving diagnosis.

“I went from thinking I had a dislocated finger to finding out I needed brain and spinal surgery,” says Amanda. “It could have been a really bad experience, where I was waiting to find out what was wrong and having it be too late and having permanent damage to my spinal cord.”

Amanda was diagnosed with Chiari 1 malformation causing syringomyelia. Her brain is too large, putting pressure on her spine. She says doctors were amazed she wasn’t paralyzed, given how advanced the condition was. She adds it is more common than multiple sclerosis. There is no cure, only temporary fixes, like painkillers and surgeries. Amanda has had a partial craniotomy, which was the removal of part of her skull, and a muscle graft, which meant skin from another part of her body was used to cover her skull.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the medical teams I’ve had. I’m able to run and play with my kids and my dog,” Amanda says. “Looking at me, you’d never know I had a problem unless you saw my scars.”

“More than 25,000 surgeries take place in Regina’s hospitals every year,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “When hospitals are equipped with the best technology available, from medical imaging to surgical technologies, people experience the best outcomes possible and go on to live better lives.”

Amanda's story appears in our Spring 2019 newsletter. Watch for it here after May 14, 2019.

  • Successful surgery gives woman with rare condition a better life
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