First-class re­sult for Al­i­son

Sunderland Echo - - Opinion -

Suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing a univer­sity masters de­gree is hard enough but it is nigh im­pos­si­ble when bat­tling a painful brain con­di­tion at the same time.

So our con­grat­u­la­tions go to Al­i­son Stiles John­son who picked up her Msc in Tourism and Events at the re­cent Aca­demic Awards at the Sta­dium of Light.

Al­i­son had just started her Masters De­gree course when she re­ceived life-chang­ing news.

After en­dur­ing months of pain, in­clud­ing speech prob­lems and stroke-like symp­toms, the 44-year-old was even­tu­ally di­ag­nosed as suf­fer­ing from Chiari Mal­for­ma­tion, a con­di­tion where the lower part of the brain pushes down into the spinal canal.

While wait­ing for a ma­jor op­er­a­tion at New­cas­tle’s Royal Vic­to­ria In­fir­mary, Al­i­son even trav­elled to New York as part of her de­gree course.

On March 13, 2017, Al­i­son un­der­went her op­er­a­tion, in which sur­geons re­moved a sec­tion of her skull, go­ing through mus­cle be­fore help­ing ‘un­cork’ the trapped area.

She re­mained in hos­pi­tal for five days be­fore hav­ing three months of re­cu­per­a­tion at home and although the op­er­a­tion was con­sid­ered a suc­cess, she is not free from the con­di­tion and has to man­age on a day-to-day ba­sis, us­ing pain-numb­ing med­i­ca­tion.

“From day-to-day I have to cope with a lot of pres­sure be­hind my eyes, numb­ness in my arms and legs, pres­sure build-up on my neck and swelling of my eye­lids,” she said.

Dur­ing this time, Al­i­son’s stud­ies were put on hold. She had man­aged to com­plete the first mod­ule of her MA but her ill­ness meant she would have to take time out, and she was grate­ful for the help she re­ceived from the univer­sity un­til she could go back to com­plete her work.

And she even man­aged to marry part­ner Michael at a cer­e­mony in Italy this year.

All in all, it’s been a first­class re­sult for Al­i­son.

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