Thankful for Headache Expertise: Barrow Helped Kimberly Live Again

Thankful for Headache Expertise: Barrow Helped Kimberly Live Again

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Kimberly Fisher’s long journey to Barrow began days before her wedding in 2008. She was off-roading in Sedona with her fiancé when a violent jolt left her with an awful headache and feeling nauseated. She began vomiting almost immediately. That afternoon was the first of nearly 100 visits to the emergency room, dozens of hospital stays, and 50 different kinds of medication.

On her wedding day, Kimberly woke up in the ER. Her family travelled to Sedona from all over the country but she could not leave the hospital. She and her husband, James, made the difficult decision to get married as planned. They were dubbed the “Sedona Sweethearts.” They married in the hospital chapel and their journey together as husband and wife began.

For the next 12 years the pain was unrelenting, and Kimberly slept 16 to 18 hours every single day.

“If I did something as simple as going to lunch with a friend, I would pay for it,” she says. “But I fought for a good life and tried to stay positive and hopeful.”

Barrow patient, Kimberly, hiking in Arizona.Despite her pain, Kimberly and James were still active. Whenever possible, they hiked in the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. They went backpacking and walked their dog on the weekends. Strong medication helped Kimberly manage the pain.

“James suffered right along with me,” says Kimberly.

Kimberly planned financial conferences, and she was very successful in her career. She was used to long hours and grueling days, but nothing could have prepared her for headaches around the clock. In her effort to find relief for the pain, Kimberly saw a headache specialist but her pain was getting worse and worse. She ended up on disability and many days struggled to get out of bed. The myriad of medications she took also were taking a toll on her life.

After yet another series of trips to the emergency room, Kimberly’s physician recommended she see a headache specialist at Barrow Neurological Institute. That’s when her agonizing existence would change.

Kimberly scheduled a telemedicine appointment with Jennifer Robblee, MD, a headache neurologist at the Jan & Tom Lewis Migraine Treatment Program at Barrow. Dr. Robblee asked some seemingly simple questions to get to the root of Kimberly’s pain.

“She asked if I experienced any trauma just before the headaches started,” says Kimberly. “At that moment, I realized this pain must have started during that off-road excursion right before my wedding.”

Dr. Robblee suspected a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak was causing Kimberly’s debilitating headaches. CSF leaks are caused when the fluid around the brain and spinal cord leaks following a trauma. A violent jolt during that bumpy ride all those years ago was a reasonable explanation so Dr. Robblee recommended patching the leak. The patch is an imaging-guided injection, using the patient’s own blood, into the space near the covering of the brain and the spinal cord. The patch is thought to work by correcting the pressure in that space.

Kimberly’s pain stopped immediately, she doesn’t need pain killers for the first time in years, and her life has improved more than she could have dreamed.

“Not only do I have no pain,” says Kimberly, “I have more energy. I am seeing friends and family. I am cooking. I am gardening. Dr. Robblee is my angel.”

If Dr. Robblee is her angel, Kimberly’s husband, James, is her rock.

Kimberly says, “James was with me every step of the way, now we have a whole new life to explore.”

Join Kimberly in making a gift to the Jan & Tom Lewis Migraine Treatment Program. Donations help fund critical research that will benefit patients like Kimberly and help ensure patients like her find relief much sooner.

“I grieve all the years I lost,” says Kimberly “But there are some blessings and now that I am cured, I feel like I have so much more to give.”

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