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UPDATE: 08/10/06

Bryson had his Chiari Decompression surgery on March 29th of this year, and we are happy to say that things have improved dramatically! Though the doctors had told us before the operation that some of Bryson's worst problems were not related to the Chiari, it has now been shown that they actually were. The short-term memory loss issues are gone now. His moderate hearing loss and the ringing in his ears had changed - the ringing is gone, and the hearing loss is down to a very manageable mild level. What we had previously thought was ADD was apparently something to do with the pressure, because since his operation he has been able to function on a fairly normal level - he no longer loses focus, forgets what he's supposed to be doing, etc. He does still have some learning disabilities that he will always have - mild dyslexia and a condition known as Irlen Syndrome which affects the way his mind comprehends what he is reading under normal lighting conditions. But he is learning to deal with the dyslexia, and a colored glare-reducing laminate sheet placed over his reading material corrects the Irlen Syndrome so that his brain can focus on the words and not the glare.

One of the most unexpected things is that Bryson will actually be starting 8th grade in another 2 weeks! We had suspected that he would miss so much school, and that he was already so far behind, that he'd never be able to pass 7th grade. But, Bryson healed from the surgery faster than expected, and once back at school, he kicked it into high gear and managed to not only complete all of the current work, but also all of the missed assignments, and he passed!!!

Bryson is doing very well since his operation - both physically and mentally. He continues to be a wonderful young man, and we are so proud of him!

February 28th, 2006 - UPDATE -
It has been close to a year since I originally wrote Bryson's story, so I wanted to update a few things.  Last September, Bryson was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, Type I.  This is a condition in which the cerebellar tonsil portion of the brain has gotten pushed down into an area it is not supposed to be in, and is, in effect, being squeezed.  It has also caused a syringomelia (pocket of fluid) to form on his spinal column.  He will be having a Chiari Decompression surgery on March 27th, 2006, in which his neurosurgeon will remove a portion of the posterior base of his skull, and part of a vertebrae in his spine, to allow room for the cerebellar tonsils, and to allow the fluid to drain.  Luckily, Bryson's Chiari Malformation was found by accident during a routine (for him) CT scan.  I say 'luckily' for two reasons - 1) it needed to be found, and 2) I'd rather it be found by accident than because he was having problems and they had to go looking for a cause.  There are quite a few different symptoms, and he's been lucky enough to not have any of the worst ones, because it was found early enough.
Unfortunately, over the past few months, his learning disabilities have gotten drastically worse.  We do not know the cause, though are hoping that perhaps there is some connection between this and the Chiari...if so, perhaps this operation will help that, too.  If not, he will be having full testing through school to determine exactly what his disabilities are, and what the best course of action is, to help him learn.  After trying several different ADD medications, he is now going without medication for that issue.  None of them agreed with his system, and one actually put him in the emergency room, so we decided it was time to stop testing them!  He will be repeating 7th grade next year, because of the learning problems and his upcoming surgery (he will miss 4 weeks or more of school), but in a way he's actually looking forward to getting a 2nd chance at school and being ahead of the game for next year. 
Through all of this, Bryson remains a wonderful young man!  He is now 13 & 1/2 years old, and looking forward to summer vacation.  He has a lot of friends, and (in normal teenage fashion) loves to talk on the phone.  He continues to enjoy most of the things he liked last year, though occasionally exchanges one love for another when it comes to sports.  Right now he is back to loving basketball, after a few months of liking football more.  He continues to make us laugh, and to teach us - though don't let him know that, or he'll start thinking he's in charge!

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