Sheriff’s deputy feeling fine following brain surgery
Polk County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Chandler would never have guessed at the age of 28 that he’d be recovering from brain surgery, but that’s the situation he’s found himself in after he found out from neurological specialists he was suffering from a chiari malformation inside his head.
Chandler, who remains with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, has been recovering from brain surgery for more than a week after surgeons operated to relieve the pressure being caused by his cerebellum pushing up against his skull and spinal column.
Prior to his surgery, Chandler said he noticed over the past year his health deteriorating and doctors had a hard time explaining why.
“When I found out about it, obviously it was devastating to learn you have to have brain surgery, especially at a young age,” he said. “But it’s really not that uncommon. Most people don’t realize they have it, and doctors can’t figure out what’s going on. Luckily they caught mine by doing an MRI.”
He said his wife remained persistent with him after visiting a doctor in Rome who thought he knew what the problem was but said it was nothing to worry about.
Ever since he found out about the condition, he said the outpouring of support from his coworkers and the command staff at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and in the community, has been overwhelming and appreciated.
“They raised a tremendous amount of money for these upcoming medical expenses,” he said. “I consider my coworkers true friends, but friendship has gone past anything I’d imagined in this process.”
Chandler said Sheriff Johnny Moats said so long as he remained a deputy on the force, he would continue to work with him to ensure he could stay employed.
“It takes a lot of stress off a person when you don’t have to worry about your employer knocking you for having a disability,” he said. “Sheriff Moats told me that no matter what ends up happening, ‘if we have to end up putting a wheelchair ramp in this department, you’ll have a job.’”
Chandler said a lot of the fundraising support from the department and the community have been spearheaded by deputy Rachel Haddix, head of the CHAMPS program.
He said he and his family have no idea how to thank everyone for the help thus far.
Chandler said he hopes most of his health worries will be over for now.
“There is no cure, but following the decompression surgery, they keep telling me most symptoms will be 85 percent improved,” he said.
He already notices a difference as he’s back on his feet and healing. Chandler said he didn’t know when he’d be able to take up work at the Sheriff’s Office again.
“Each person is different, patients see so many varied results from the surgery,” he said. “We’ll have to see on down the road what happens. Ultimately it’ll be up to my doctor as to whether I can go back to work.”
Kevin Chandler sits with his wife Jenn and their daughter Tatum and son Brant.
Deputy Kevin Chandler with the command staff and CHAMPS educator Rachel Haddix.