Some of my past readers may have noticed that I “revamped” my blog and change a few thing around, but that doesn’t change the fact that this my personal blog and I use it to talk about my struggles with severe depression and anxiety, my Chiari Malformation diagnosis. I think most people are terrified that they are alone and so if this can give my readers a sense of unification or understanding, then my job is done.

So many things have occurred since I last chimed in. First of all, I have a “new” position at the same job as a dog bather. I basically wash and deshed (which is a number of hair removing techniques),  brush teeth, clean ears, brush out, remove mats, and give pawdicures to lovely (mostly, although some are plain assholes) little and HUGE doggies. I like this position better because I don’t have to put as much stress on my neck and back as I did as a playroom attendant. I also feel like my job does have purpose. I got to make an adoptee Dalmatian mix all pretty in hopes of getting adopted and a freshly adopted Chow mix a deshed and brush after being severely neglected. My shift hours are also amazing for my chronic pain. I work 10 am – 3:30/4pm, which gives me enough time to sleep in and prepare myself for the shift and also allows me to have time to relax and unwind when I get home. I usually come home and lay on my heat pad for a couple hours. I work Monday-Friday, which is great, as well, because I get the weekend off to spend with my mom, but also having a schedule is good for my depression and anxiety.

I have slacked off a bit in Mav’s training, but we have come LEAPS and BOUNDS since my last post. I had a severe major depression episode and was completely upset after having some really hard personal news hit. I was shaking and wishing that I was not here. I finally let Mavis out and she immediately came over and laid on my upper arm by my face and just stayed still. I didn’t teach this to her at all, but she knew that her mom needed her help. She did so amazing and I felt like all my training had been justified. I also took her with me to a psychologist appointment and she did wonderful! She remembered her blanket commands and sat on her blanket and ignored the door opening! She had little slip ups in the hour long appointment: barking at a plant, falling asleep, and being a little restless. She tooted and snored in the room and my therapist couldn’t help but laugh.

I’ve been trying to cope recently with my chronic pain and anxiety. Today was very difficult in terms of pain. The back of my head had a weird pressure feeling right where my cerebral tonsils are (where my surgical incision is). I also had bad neck and back pain and weird muscle cramping. I thought about asking to go home early, but stuck it out. I got home and used my heat pad for about two hours straight. Tomorrow I am heading to Lubbock for my cousin’s wedding and will be taking my best little pug with me. She won’t be going to the actual wedding because she isn’t that ready to be in public. I get very anxious around event like these. A lot of people make me extremely anxious and then also being judged around family is a worrisome of mine. Hopefully all goes well.

Thanks for staying with us!


Cass & Mav


I’ve never experienced so many ups and downs within the span of only a couple of weeks. After my little pity party post, I decided to really try to focus on the positives in life. I joined the movement 99 Days of Freedom, whose mission is to see how Facebook users life are impacted by quitting for 99 days.

In response to Facebook’s controversial mood experiment involving some 700,000 unwitting users, we launched an experiment of our own, determining how life without Facebook impacts user happiness

I surprisingly haven’t missed it yet. The only thing I miss is chatting with my boyfriend via Facebook messenger, but in all honesty we have phones for that and I should be focusing in school anyways. People constantly try to compare themselves to others and I am 100% guilty of this! You can’t compare your life to another person’s because we are all so unique and it is completely absurd to discount your “joys,” to compare them to a celebrity/friend/etc.’s success and oh so happy life. Life is like houses: they may be pretty from the outside with their freshly mowed lawns and little white picket fences, but on the inside the house could be a train wreck and no would ever know unless they entered. I’ve decided to keep track of three different things (or more!) each day that I am grateful for. For example today’s entry:

11.17.2015 – Today I am grateful for:

  1. my boyfriend’s support through my Chiari journey; today my boyfriend drove me to class and waited through it to take me home. He willingly paid for our groceries with no hesitation, although I will pay him half back. He says “I love you” at the most perfect time when my self doubt grows increasingly strong.
  2. my mama; my mother has been nothing but a godsend through this all. I do not have a child so I do not know the true connection a mother feels with her child, but I can tell you that my mom would go to the end of the Earth for me and I her, too. I truly could not have gotten through this all without the love and support of my family, friends, and my amour.
  3. my therapist’s guidance; I’ve always had a tricky time finding the right person to talk to about my hard times, but I finally did back in 2012 with Dr. Hightower. I feel completely at ease to spill my thoughts and finally let out my worries. I try to be strong for everyone around me and for myself, so having moments to release this and get advice on how you can make things better, absolutely is a necessity.

I got the idea to think or write down these grateful moments from time.com and their guide to be happier. I’ve had so many lows in my life, but it does make me appreciate the highs I do get to experience and it makes me really think about consequences before my actions.


So starting with two weekends ago on November 8th, I traveled to Austin, TX with my mom, dad, and boyfriend for my brother and s-i-l’s baby shower. My second niece is due on January 17th, 2016! Although I am not too entirely close with my brother and his family, it was nice to be able to catch up a little in the hustle and bustle of the hive. My niece, Emelia, is almost three (on January 10th) and is such a sweet, kind and caring little girl with a big heart. I love that child with my whole heart and it makes me so happy to have her in my arms. I can’t wait to be a mother one day, after I can put most of this behind me (surgery, school stressors, family stressors, etc.). I have always been nurturer and my desire to have my own child has always been there. Seeing Zach hold Eme and play with her makes me feel ecstatic; one thing that has helped me through each day is seeing how our relationship has gotten closer. We talk about our future plans all the time and I pray that we will be happy together and make things work through thick and thin. We were put in each other’s paths for a reason and I know being with Zach has changed me fore the better. I’ve grown more confident in myself and with my self image (learning to love my flaws), to let the little things go, and to relax because life happens: there is no sense in getting devastated over an event you cannot change, no matter how hard you try (yet I still do at times and Zach helps me through my dark days). I love our relationship: our netflix marathons, salted baths, call of duty nights, diet coke obsession, neopets, star wars collection, dvd/blu ray hoarding, sci-fi-horror movie nights, road trips with plenty of snacks, walks in the sunset, mini day hikes, fall out 4 game sessions and cuddles. We understand each other’s nerdiness and fully appreciate it.


This past weekend we traveled all the way to Midland and back to see my grandma, who is nearing her final days. I can’t thank my mom and boyfriend enough for driving me out to the middle-of-nowhere-west-Texas. It means so much to me to be able to see my grandma and be able to  express my sincere love and gratitude for this woman that has given so much to my dad, uncle, aunt, and to me. I have never seen such a strong, independent woman. She’s tough as nails, but cancer was the only thing that could stop her. I can’t begin to explain all the sacrifices she has made to give her children a good life and in turn my brother and I through our dad. I was so happy to be around her and see her smile and bring joy to those around her. I am praying I will be able to see her again this upcoming holiday and that she can hold on to meet her great-granddaughter. Despite the circumstances, I enjoyed the trip. On Friday night we ate thai food on all white sheets in the hotel room watching Inside Out (which, if you haven’t seen it, you MUST! I think it is easily one of my very favorites and teaches such an important lesson why we need all of our many emotions to be happy – coincidentally perfect for my life). It was nice seeing my aunt and uncle and being able to be amongst family even though the hard times.


While spending the evening at my grandmother’s house I watched the horror unravel the Paris attacks on the news. I am utterly speechless at the heinous murders that took the lives of 129 people in a place loved by so many. I cannot understand the capacity of hatred an individual has to have to do something like that, there is no way they are human, just cold terrorist monsters. I began checking instagram to see who was at the Le Bataclan during the mass shooting and bombings and began praying for those people. One picture stood out to me immediately: a young couple that looked to be in their early thirties enjoying the perks of being young and alive- Gilles Leclerc and Marianne Labanane, I later found out to be. The young gentleman with a prominent mustache and his girlfriend thought they would be enjoying an Eagles of Death Metal concert and having a great time. I begin to pray for them, for all the victims and their loved ones. I later found out on Sunday that Gilles had been one of the victims, but his girlfriend Marianne was alive, but in shock. I didn’t know these people at all, but I felt a connection to them; perhaps because I, too, am young and have gone to concerts and can empathize. Something in my heart pulled as I was hoping that these two would be safe and reunited. I’m saddened deeply by the tragedy that took place at Le Bataclan and across Paris that took the lives of so many. I can only hope that it gives the wounded and the victim’s family and friends comfort knowing how much an impact they had on the rest of the world, uniting many nations together.

After the rollercoaster of a Friday, we traveled home for only one night. I sleep best at home, so I was happy to be back in my bed after more than twelve hours of traveling to and back and two nights on a stiff mattress in a motel. One night to take a hot bath and enjoy the comforts of home. The next morning we set out for Houston, where my appointment with the neurosurgeon, a Chiari specialist, resided. On the way down I slept through the entire car ride thanks to my muscle relaxer. That was a special treat for me, as I hadn’t slept well for the past several nights! After meeting my aunt and uncle for some Mexican food and getting lost in downtown Houston, we finally made it to the hotel and settled in for the night. My boyfriend and I went down the the hot tub and enjoyed the immense heat of the spa- we have always wanted one and really love soaking. Afterwards we watched The 100 and the Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals game where we were disappointed by a close loss. That night was miserable. I had a nonstop migraine that consumed every sinus cavity of my head. I woke up around four am, trying to get any type of relief. I started a hot bath and put a cold towel over my eyes like suggested by a chronic migraine sufferer, but to no relief. I could not get back to sleep, so I patiently waited and suffered until seven am to get ready for the day.


The time had finally come to see the specialist. After we waited for a good bit, I met Dr. Rob Parrish, a retired Army Colonel and Board Certified Neurosurgeon with specialties in Microvascular Decompression for Trigeminal Neuralgia and Hemi-Facial Spasm and, most importantly for me, Chiari Decompression. Within only a few minutes, Dr. Parrish confirmed I had Arnold-Chiari Malformation Type I with a simple temperature sensitivity test to my hands and feet (which were surprisingly worse than I previously had thought) and a few questions about my migraine headaches. He told me I would be a good candidate for surgery and that my symptoms should improve, but he could not give me a definite answer that my pain would subside; one of my biggest problems. I began to cry as I imagined what my life would be like living through pain. My dad reassured me that the surgery would help and that everything would be ok. I set up my decompression surgery for this upcoming December 9th to have a dura patch placed on the back side of my brain from a fascia graft from my leg. I can’t begin to explain the relief to know that a doctor does believe and acknowledges my pain and symptoms. It’s truly a miracle.

I have to be cleared with the cardiologist beforehand to make sure I am in complete sinus rhythm after having to receive a cardioversion last year after going into atrial fibrillation (a.fib). Dr. Parrish is adamant that I see a cardiologist in Houston at the Methodist Hospital he works at. I have been tested before after my first initial attack. I wore a cardio monitor for two months and had no definitive results. I am a bit eager to know what things look like now because I have had episodes of tachycardia probably related to a side condition. The doctor noted that my reflexes were way too entirely active and that I need that looked into as well. A lumbar and thoracic MRI will be done to determine whether I have tethered cord syndrome, another malformation that relates to neurological disorders or some type of spine trauma. Exactly three weeks from now I will be operated on. I am praying for all the success that I can possibly receive from this surgery. A life with no pain.

I know this post is massively long, but I have had so much happen. If I can make it through two more weeks of school work, I’ll be in good shape and ready to go.







Whittled Down.

This week has been one of the absolute worst weeks ever. First being told that my condition is “just a congenital birth defect and I do not suspect will warrant any further treatment.” I have been in nonstop neck and back pain continuously. I’ve fallen and skinned my knee because of my balance issues. My memory is worsening causing me arguments with my boyfriend over stuff I’ve forgotten because I’m also very stubborn and used to having a great memory.I found out that my Papa, my mom’s dad, had a really bad infection in his elbow and had to go to the ER multiple times.

Then I was let go at work because if I were to get bitten, scratched, or catch a zoonotic disease it could delay my surgery or worse. I have been forgetting to do certain things and the pain of being on my feet all the time, cleaning, and trying to restrain pets at work was wearing at me. The animals, however, gave me much joy and happiness so I am extremely saddened. Also, I have no source of income at this point. My boyfriend is already on unemployment, so we aren’t in the best position at this point, but he assures me we will be just fine and I shouldn’t worry.

The following day my boyfriend’s car broke down with me in the backseat after we had just bought groceries. I got nauseous and threw up in the parking lot we were stuck in. We had to have it towed and get a shuttle ride because everyone who could’ve given us a ride was out of town. 

That night I had to leave class early because I was in so severe pain that I began to cry. I went straight to my moms house and laid on the ground bawling. I decided then I needed some painkillers and would get an appointment the next day instead of waiting up at the ER. I took my muscle relaxer and old pain killers from my surgery back in 2013 praying for relief.

I then found out that same night some devastating family news that crushed me. I began doubting my self. My thoughts began to stray and I fought hard to stay positive. Insomnia was horrible practically every night.

The next morning I went to school took a muscle relaxer because of the pain and had to call my boyfriend and mom to pick me up and drive my car back home because the meds did not wear off as soon as thought they would. I called my neurologist despite her earlier judgement and left a message telling her I needed pain medicine because of sever neck and back pain. I had a psychology appointment and cried my story to my psychologist who I’ve been seeing for four years and love. She assured me I was going to be ok. My neurologist called me back mid appointment to tell me she doesn’t prescribe pain medication and I have to see my primary. I thought this was a bit ridiculous because this was a side effect of the malformation of my cerebellar tonsils. My psychologist told me she was so proud of me for standing up for myself because she knows how hard it is me to fight back. 

So I called my primary’s office to find she was on vacation but I could see a nurse practitioner instead. I asked if they could prescribe pain meds and was told they can consult with a doctor and could. 

After another restless night I went to my appointment this morning. I was told that I should see a psychiatrist, which I do believe to be true, but is not my primary issue at the moment. She told me to keep taking muscle relaxer. I cried and told her I can’t sleep, I’ve been in constant pain. She said she would consult with a doctor but could give a shot of toradol which helps for 6 to 8 hours. Frustrated I left. I told my dad who took the liberty of calling the office mangers of my neurologist and the nurse practitioner and basically telling them it was unacceptable for me to be in chronic pain and have to wait because my primary is out of town. My neurologist decided not to prescribe after being told she would be reported to the board and my insurance company because she took me on as a patient and didn’t even follow up with me on my MRI findings. So she is no longer my neurologist. I officially fired her. The office manager of the nurse practitioner’s location was much more helpful and got a pain script put in for me right away. 

This whole day I had intended traveling out of town to Livingston to visit with my dad. It has been awhile and I miss him. Last time I went down was before school started. We were hoping to leave right after my appointment thinking we would leave with a pain prescription. 

So around 3 I go to HEB pharmacy: the rx is marked urgent and the technician assures me that it’ll be 30 minutes. So I ask him to call me as soon as it is ready. At this point my boyfriend and I are extremely frustrated. We head to get food and decide to wait to leave until I finish my homework and get a call from HEB. I finish my homework right before 5 and call HEB pharmacy as we drive up to pick up my prescription. At this point I’m in pain. My neck begins aching. I’m told it hasn’t been filled yet I tell the lady I had come by at 3 and told it would be filled in thirty minutes. The lady apologized and told me she would get someone to check me out so I didn’t have to wait in line again. While I’m standing at the side a red headed older lady tells me I have to get back in line which is ridiculous. She says she has been here all day and that she hasn’t had an urgent script (basically calling me a liar), I tell her that it is unbelievable that I had to wait in line when I was told it would be filled at 3:30 and ask to talk to the manager. Of course he’s not in. I’m in horrible pain at this point. I wait in line fuming. Ten minutes later when I get to the front with the cashier, she can’t find the prescription anywhere. She looks in the filing cabinet and multiple trays and consults three different individuals. The crew are all looking over at me because the red head lady is whispering to them and I’m beginning to tear up from stress and pain. The pharmacy technician finally finds it because the girl I was on the phone with put it aside to be checked out early. (So I didn’t have to wait in line) I talk to the pharmacist who was very professional and kind and tells me she is so sorry and that it was completely their faults. She states that next time I should ask to see a pharmacist and not have to wait in line when the medicine was marked urgent and I was in extreme pain. I’m just crying my eyes out and my boyfriend walked me to the car and helped me calm down. Now we are finally on our way to see my dad after a day of hell. We will be arriving almost 12 hours later than we had originally planned to. I have my pain medication that took leaps and bounds to get and I’m exhausted mentally, emotionally, and, of course, physically. I have not strength left to fight against anyone. I pray that God give me the strength to continue on. The things I am thankful for this week: 21 shirts being sold to wonderful individuals. I didn’t think that many people cared about me. I found another lady in central Texas through a mutual friend who is an expert in chiari malformation and is in the hospital fight now for a third brain surgery. She has had so many more complications than I have including hydrocephalus, syringomyelia, and a cyst blocking the flow of her CSF, but I can finally talk to someone who knows first hand what it is like. I can ask her questions about the surgery and it gives me peace and reassurance to talk. My dad’s perseverance to make sure I’m taken care of when I don’t have the strength to do it myself. My mom and my boyfriend taking care of my fragile broken state. My best friend for talking me out of a crappy mood and being there for me. Finally, the end of this week I am thankful for.

End of vent.


-Cass, chiari fighter, bullying survivor, and surviving life’s tornado.