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    Posted March 2, 2014 by
    Gainesville, Georgia

    Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension has taken my life from me!


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Brittany Bryant first started having the painful headaches associated with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH) when she was 17-years-old, but she wasn't formally diagnosed with the disease until her early adult life. "More than likely I have had it since I was a teenager; it just progressively got worse with time," she said.

    IIH is a condition where the pressure of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull is too high, causing extremely painful headaches that Bryant described feeling as though her head were put in a vice "and someone is cranking that vice tighter and tighter until your eye balls feel like they are going to pop out."

    Bryant is unable to exert herself or participate in everyday activities without feeling excruciating pain the next day. "Bending over, walking, shopping, playing with my son, riding the four wheeler, riding through the mountains in the car, it all kills me the next day," she said. "My life has been taken away from me. I have been robbed of my future, my husband has been robbed of his wife and, most importantly, my son has been robbed of his mommy."
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    Hello my name is Brittany Dealyn Bryant and I am 26 years old. I have been married for 8 years to the love of my life Jonah and we have an 8 year old little boy named Brody. I want to tell you how my life has changed dramatically in only 3 years. My husband and I found out on December 26th, 2011 that we were expecting our 2nd little blessing. On December 30th, 2011 we lost our little hunny bunny through miscarriage. Our hearts were broken and we felt as though our whole world was crumbling around us. I have had severe headaches for most of my life but I have tried to play it off to your run of the mill Migraines. On January 3rd, 2012 I went to the eye doctor thinking that it would be a normal visit and that he would tell me that I just needed some glasses and that it would help with my migraines. Boy was I wrong. I made it through the normal eye test and it was determined that, yes, I did need glasses. He then did a precautionary test and took pictures of my optic nerves. He took one look and said, I will be right back I need to make you another appointment with one of my colleagues. He then came back in and told me that my optic nerves were extremely swollen and that I could have 1 of 2 things. Either I had a brain tumor, or I had something called Pseudotumor Cerebri ( now better know as Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension.) I was beyond scared to death, all I could think was that I had a cancerous brain tumor and that I was going to die. Well it was one of those things but it wasn't a brain tumor. I went to the neuro ophthalmologist and had another range of tests done and then I was sent straight to the Neurologist who then wanted to do a spinal tap and an MRI. My MRI came back clean with no lesions and no tumor. When I went in for my spinal tap I was scared out of my mind. A spinal tap is where they stick a needle into my back and draw fluid out. They check the opening pressure and then send the fluid off for other testing. My opening pressure was a whopping 47. I was told that I did have IIH. They prescribed me a medication called Diamox (acetazolamide) and I was sent home with no explanation as to what I would be going through. Boy I know one thing, I wish someone would have been there for me while I was first diagnosed. It sure was a scary time in my life! I started taking the diamox and to no avail, it didn't help me, it only made me sicker! The side effects were miserable! I wanted to just give up and die! But I couldn't! I had an 8 year old son that needed his mommy! So I kept fighting with the medications that I was taking. I fought with them until they finally told me that I would have to have something called a shunt placed so that it could drain the excess cerebral spinal fluid into my stomach! They would have to go into my spine to place this LP shunt. It then is wrapped around my side and put into my stomach. I had that placed on June 1st, 2012. From that moment on was complete and total hell. One week later I had another major surgery to put the shunt catheter back into place because it was pulled loose. From June 26th on I had a total of 7 surgeries to fix or replace the shunt that I had. Finally on December 26th, 2013 I had a VP shunt placed.

    A ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt is a device used to relieve pressure from the brain caused by fluid accumulation. VP shunting is a surgical procedure that is primarily used to treat a condition called hydrocephalus , which occurs when excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collects in the brain’s ventricles. CSF cushions your brain and protects it from injury inside your skull. The fluid acts as a delivery system for nutrients that your brain needs, and also takes away waste products. Normally, CSF flows through these ventricles to the base of the brain. The fluid then bathes the brain and spinal cord before it is reabsorbed into the blood. When this normal flow is disrupted, the build-up of fluid can create harmful pressure on the brain’s tissues, which can damage the brain. VP shunts are surgically placed inside one of the brain’s ventricles to divert fluid away from the brain and restore normal flow and absorption of CSF. I haven't had to have any revision surgeries since this VP shunt was placed THANK GOD!!! But by no means does this cure me! I still have almost daily migraines. This was only placed to save me from going blind. My life will never be the same. I will never be the fun, outgoing, silly mom that I used to be. Now I have my days where I see the old me coming through and I then take advantage of that and then the next day I pay dearly for being the old me! I want my life back. I have been taken prisoner by this miserable rare disease that only affects 1 in 100,000 people. I may be 1 in 100,000 but I would rather not be. I would rather be the old me. The silly outgoing person that I used to be! I want to be able to fish with my husband and ride the 4 wheeler with my son. I WANT A PAIN FREE DAY EVERYDAY! I WANT A CURE! For me and for all of my friends that I have met on Facebook. We have a support group that is called Family IIH and I love them all so dearly! They are what keeps me going some days when I feel like giving up. My husband, my son, all of my family and my IH family on Facebook are the ones that kick my rear end and say, YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU ARE TOUGH! HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH! Please help us spread the word about this debilitating disease! Please, Help us FIND A CURE

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