This day has been coming. At the time you read this, in all likelihood Shawn Arnell, co-host of Sports Animals with Shawn and Wally on 920 KARN will be in a complex surgery for a condition known as Arnold-Chiari Malformation.
On October 31, 2011, Shawn decided to go public with his condition reaching out to those with similar experiences.
The link within the tweet is to a blog entry entitled “Here we go” on archiari.wordpress.com. His entire post follows so nothing of his message or sentiment is left out.
“Four weeks ago I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. Chiari is a brain disease which causes the brain to grow out of the skull. Symptoms include headaches, slurred speech, fatigue, foggy head, vertigo, and lack of depth perception. I am lucky because my symptoms are not as bad as others but the symptoms I do have are occurring more frequently.
Understand, this is not life threatening but it is life changing. I was born with Chiari and the symptoms tend to increase with age or a blunt blow to the head. I suffered a concussion a year ago which may have caused my brain to shift further down which got my Chiari party started. My malformation is 16mm which is on the large side.”
“Amy and I spent the first week researching and defining Chiari to our inner circle. The reason for this post is to find others who are experiencing Chiari. I would love to hear from you. It is so rare that the ability to reach out to those who are struggling would be helpful to me and my family.
We started a message board called http://arkansaschiari.boardhost.com/index.php. Please pass it on to a friend because I am convinced if you dig deep enough you will find a person who suffers from this condition.
This blog will cover Chiari news,events, and information. I am not comfortable keeping a personal diary of my ups and downs so this will be the last time I post anything personal about my condition.
I wanna thank the guys on the show and the management at Cumulus. Wally, Richard, Bill, Nate Olsen, and Mike Irwin have been nothing but understanding and are bailing me out when my speech starts going South.
The mental component of this condition is the reason for me coming out. I wanted to wait till the timing was right before talking about it and if it wasnt for the lonely feeling this condition causes then I would remain private. My wife has been a miracle in her research and that is the reason for being open. We want and need to hear from people who can share their experience. It is emotionally draining on family members because they want to help yet don’t know how. It is also exhausting for those with Chiari because we appear normal yet we walk around feeling and knowing something is out of balance.
Chiari patients who have brain decompression surgery are called Zipperheads. We would love to hear from Arkansas Zipperheads. Again, please visit our message board and educate those who are walking down your road. ”
Not being able to listen to Shawn and Wally that often, last night (January 16, 2012) during the last segment of the repeated first hour Wally Hall said that Shawn was at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and was under orders to have nothing to eat or drink after 9:00 p.m. last night. Wally gave another detail and it was clear without being overly technical, that Shawn would undergo brain surgery to relieve and stabilize the pressure caused by the malformation. It’s a day which has been coming for a little more than three months.
About 5:23 a.m. CST this morning, Shawn tweeted, “Welp, here goes nothing. Thank you for the kind words.”
Certainly as a religious person he’s given this burden to God, but being a former athlete and being a fighter, he’s staring down his fate and condition saying, “Let’s Rock.” Our thoughts and prayers are with Shawn Arnell as he faces one of the greatest challenges of his life.
God’s Speed, Shawn, and to his wife, Amy, from Hog Database and from any sports fan who wants to join us.
For those wanting more information on Arnold Chiari Malformation:
From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke which is a subdivision of the National Institutes of Health : Chiari Malformation Fact Sheet
A paper from the Arkansas Spinal Cord Commission which is often cited in research by Thomas Farley, MA, Research and Statistics Manager, August 2005: