Teen ‘feels like a walking death sentence’ after terrifying headache diagnosis


An aspiring law student says she feels “like a walking death sentence” after doctors diagnosed her with a terrifying brain condition.

Allesha Barnfield first realized something was wrong when her daily headaches became so crippling that she was tied to her bed and couldn’t stand noise or light.

The 17-year-old, from Highfields, South Yorkshire, had been studying law but had to drop out of university when her condition became debilitating, the Mirror reports.

In September 2020, her dreams of going to university and pursuing her career were dashed when NHS doctors diagnosed her with Chiari malformation.

The condition, which causes ligaments in the spine to be tight and tighter than normal, can cause brain tissue to shift into a person’s spinal cord.

In the worst cases, it can lead to paralysis or so-called ‘internal decapitation’, which is when the ligaments connecting the skull to the spine are severed.

Petrified by the prognosis, Allesha asked the doctors not to tell her how long she has before this happens.

This condition has ruined my life,” he said. “I dreamed of being a lawyer and going to university, but I can’t go anymore.

“I spend every day confined to my room in complete darkness because I can’t stand the light.

“I find the smallest noises excruciatingly painful, even when someone is talking to me I have to ask them to whisper.”

Allesha Barnfield with her boyfriend

Allesha said she “broke down” when doctors told her what the condition could lead to.

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“I asked them not to tell me how old I was based on my scans because I just don’t think I can bear to know,” he said.

“I feel like a walking death sentence.”

She said she suffers from “crippling back pain and neck pain, sickness and fatigue”.

The teenager “desperately” tried to get doctors to realize how much she was suffering when her headaches worsened in 2019.

“I had had migraines before, but I knew they weren’t migraines because I could physically feel the back of my head hitting me,” she explained.

“It started like once a week, but then it got to the point where it was every day, all day.

“I took myself to the doctors and was desperately trying to get people to believe me and listen to me.

“I felt like I was treated like a child, which I know I am, but I also know my own body.”

Allesha said she eventually found a GP who listened to her and referred her for an MRI and a neurosurgeon.

He was diagnosed with Chiari malformation and began researching his condition on the Internet.

Allesha and her sister, with whom she lives

Allesha, who lives with her sister, said she is not eligible for the surgery on the NHS, but her searches led her to a clinic in Barcelona, ​​which offers a new surgery that can remove the condition entirely.

In the UK, surgeons use a method called decompression surgery in which a piece of bone is removed from the spinal cord to relieve the pressure, but there is a risk that the tension will build up again and cause the same problem in the spinal cord. future.

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At the Filum System clinic, the Spanish doctors say their minimally invasive technique allows them to “eliminate the root cause and stop the progression of the condition.”

However, the costly procedure will cost Allesha around £23,000, a price she cannot cover on her own.

Desperate to get the surgery she needs, she set up a GoFundMe to cover the costs.

“Before this started, I was about to start volunteering at a law firm and I was in college, but I had to quit,” she said.

“Since the beginning I have been dealing with this alone.

“Getting this surgery and getting my life back would mean everything, I just want to be alive.”

The Mirror said the NHS has been contacted for comment.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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