This Woman Thought She Had Allergies, But It Was So Much Worse

by Clint Edwards
Originally Published:

Kendra Jackson couldn’t sleep well because her nose was always running. She always, always, had tissues with her. Most days she had a headache and a sore throat that she assumed was caused by congestion. “[It was] like a waterfall, continuously, and then it would run to the back of my throat,” Jackson told KETV in Omaha.

We’ve all suffered through a cold or allergies, right? Of course. The runny nose and annoying sniffling. The headaches. The sore throat. Jackson had the same symptoms, except for her, they weren’t seasonal or temporary. For Jackson, they lasted years. Which I must admit, sounds like total hell. I can hardly make it through allergy season with medication, let alone suffer with it for years.

Naturally, Jackson went to doctors. She explained that her symptoms began shortly after a 2013 car accident (hint hint, doc). She slammed her head against the dashboard. Every doctor — every single one — she met with over a two-year period told her it was allergies because the symptoms fit.

But Jackson had a feeling that something else was going on.

You know when you just don’t feel well, and the things doctors are telling you simply doesn’t add up, so you seek out more answers? I think most people have run into this problem. And if you haven’t, you know someone who has. My wife, Mel, had a sour taste in her mouth for a couple years. She went to a few dentists, only for them to say she had a minor infection. She’d come home with an antibiotic, but it never really went away. Finally she found a dentist who really cared, and we discovered she actually had a non-cancerous tumor in her jaw. I remember Mel was struck with this mixed felling of vindication that was followed by very uncomfortable jaw surgeries.

Jackson must have felt something similar when she finally visited an ear nose and throat specialist to discover that it wasn’t allergies causing her nose to drip, drip, drip. In fact, it wasn’t even snot. IT WAS BRAIN FLUID!

I’m sorry for yelling there, but OMG, brain fluid. Now I don’t know about you, but I prefer that my brain fluid stay where it belongs — in my skull. According to NPR, “Jackson was diagnosed with cerebrospinal fluid leak, as in, brain fluid had been leaking through a hole in her skull into her nose. All day, every day. For three years. She was losing approximately half a pint per day of the fluid that is supposed to surround the brain and spinal cord, doctors told her. If left untreated, the leak could have led to serious infections, including meningitis, vision changes and hearing loss.”

Now let’s just take a moment and think about our nose. I have a stuffy nose right now. I’d pretty sure it was just snot running down my face, but after reading about Jackson’s situation, I’m not 100% sure. And I’m kinda freaked out. Not that I want to give you all anything more to worry about. I don’t want to cause unnecessary paranoia, but the whole idea of having a crack in my skull that is causing my brain to leak is going to keep me up at least for a few nights.

Okay, okay. Deep breath. I’m calm now.

Let’s get back to Kendra Jackson. There was a time way back when (probably back in the ’90s when everything was cooler and not online) that her only option would’ve been brain surgery. But, today, in 2018, where everything is digitized, we can use cameras for more productive things than watching children open magic eggs. They can actually send a small camera up your nose, next to your cracked leaking skull, and patch the hole.

Nebraska rhinologist Christie Barnes told KETV that “she and her team used some of Jackson’s own fatty tissue to plug up the leak source — a very small hole between her skull and nostrils.”

Problem solved, right?

Well, according to Jackson, she is sleeping better now. She doesn’t have to carry around tissues all the time, and her headaches have gone away.

As for me, I now have a new terrifying fear that I’d never considered before.

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