Welcome to the Carolines Crusaders Ride for a Cure fundraising page! My name is Alli Powderly. I created this team in honor of and with my best friend Caroline.
In August 2020 Caroline underwent laparoscopic surgery for an illness she had been battling for a year. The surgery, although successful in helping the illness she was dealing with, went wrong, and resulted in a nicked artery, causing over a liter of her blood to leak into her stomach. After getting home from the surgery, she passed out, and was rushed back to the hospital for emergency surgery. Although the nicked artery was patched, the damage was permanent. This resulted in the condition called Gastroparesis, also known as delayed gastric emptying.
Going forward, Caroline lost 30 pounds and almost every time she ate would throw up. She was admitted multiple times over the next couple of months receiving treatment trying to relieve her of her pain, but nothing seemed to help. She was malnourished, weak, and defeated.
However, other symptoms started to arise and doctors began to suspect there was something else going on, so they called for a full body MRI. When they did that, they found a Chiari Malformation, a structural defect where the lower part of your brain presses on and through an opening in the base of the skull and cerebellum into the spinal canal. When part of the cerebellum extends below this opening and into the upper spinal canal, it makes it a CM. This can put pressure on your brain stem and spinal cord and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)—the clear liquid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord. Some people with CMs don’t have symptoms, however Caroline’s symptoms overlapped with her gastroparesis, making daily life very difficult.
She was forced to miss out on countless school days and events, sports practice and meets, and typical teenage activities. Her life was completely disrupted. Her quality of life decreased to the point where they had no choice but to try brain surgery to try to release pressure in her head and create more room for the cerebellum.
However surgery didn’t do everything we hoped. Although it did reduce some of the CM’s symptoms, it also introduced new ones. After surgery, Caroline’s left side was completely weaker than her right. Her left eye drooped and was hard to see out of, and her strength within her arms and her legs (especially her left) were limited. Caroline then spent the next six months fighting to get back to her normal life. She couldn’t walk or drive or do any normal kid activities she could do before. In addition to the new symptoms, her gastroparesis was still there full force.
So, three days into her senior year, Caroline got the call that a spot at an intensive rehab clinic was available at children’s. She then spent the next six weeks at the clinic learning how to do daily tasks and how to walk without her cane. She was pushed physically and mentally further than she had ever been before, but it resulted in, today, her being able to walk without a cane.
Every day is still a battle as we fight to find a cure to Caroline’s Gastroparesis, and give her the quality of life she deserves, yet doesn’t have. All we want for her is to be able to be a normal kid. Play sports, go to school, participate in activities, and love her life. Instead of getting home at 3:00 from school and having to lay in bed for the rest of the day to rebuild her energy, we want her to be able to go to sports games, to go to dinner, and hang out with her friends without needing to recharge or throw up in between.
This ride is for Caroline and kids experiencing similar things to get their life back. Please consider donating to show your support for her journey and the research surrounding her condition and other children just like her:)