Just weeks after a 5-year-old Minot girl had life-changing surgery, the family is now using her story to help inform others of the likelihood of uncommon illnesses.
Raelyn Streich is like most 5-year-olds: outgoing, playful and full of life, but it wasn’t until last summer that she began feeling off.
“The more we looked into it the more we realized she was actually having them more often than she verbalized,” Raelyn’s mom, Jennifer Streich, said.
Jennifer says her daughter was having painful headaches that became more frequent over time and required medical attention.
“We were then told she had a birth defect in her brain but it may or may not cause issues in her future,” Jennifer said.
That birth defect is called Chiari malformation. Raelyn’s brain is outgrowing her skull and headed toward her spinal cord, putting weight on her spine and causing compression.
Although this defect is not proven to be fatal, doctors as far as Minnesota were still concerned.
“That was the spinal fluid that was causing cysts all down her spinal cord and that was the main issue,” Jennifer said.
An issue that could cause muscle weakness, problems with coordination, stiff muscles and a long list of other things.
So, on March 24, Raelyn was put under the needle.
“What they do then is they cut bones in the skull to make more room in her head and more room for the spinal cord fluid to go,” Jennifer said.
While Raelyn’s surgery was a success, the family’s efforts haven’t stopped there.
Their hope now is to spread awareness of this uncommon illness to other families.
“They say it’s about 1 in 1,000. They say it’s not that common but it does happen more often than people would expect,” Raelyn’s father, Travis Streich, said.
They say by talking with your child, asking how they feel and trusting your gut can make all the difference.
“Pay attention to the signs or symptoms. My thing is don’t be afraid to take a step that’s scary. We had been kind of told that maybe the MRI was maybe too far for someone just dealing with a headache. Had we not taken those steps we would’ve never found what a serious issue this was,” Jennifer said.
The family says Raelyn will have a check-up in June to determine if she’ll need further medical attention.
They also say a spaghetti dinner benefit to help with Raelyn’s medical cost will be held May 7 at The Moose Lodge in Minot. Anyone is invited.