‘I’ve had more than 40 revision surgeries. I deal with chronic pain every day. I’m only 24, and each day is a struggle.’
Brianna Columbo, Islandia
“I was diagnosed with meningitis at 3 weeks old, and from that I developed hydrocephalus, which is a build-up of spinal fluid in your brain. Everything was done to prevent me from having a shunt which drains the fluid; even drilling a hole in the skull to make it drain on its own. Nothing worked.
“I had 10 surgeries before I turned one. After that, I forgot I had the condition until I was 13. I was in school and I had severe headaches that resulted in vomiting. I needed emergency surgery. Everything was downhill from there. I have three shunts in my head that drain the fluid and I’ve had more than 40 revision surgeries. I deal with chronic pain every day.
“I’m only 24, and each day is a struggle. They had to shave my hair many times. At 13, it was very hard to cope with that. I had a great deal of people making fun of me for my hair being short. My senior year in high school was the hardest because I had at least 20 surgeries and was in the hospital every month. I had to take semesters off from nursing school because I had to have surgery. In the midst of that, I also lost my father.
I’ve learned that no matter how hard every day can be, you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. I’m so happy that I didn’t and that I didn’t listen to anyone that told me that I should.
“I had decided to go into medicine after being sick my whole life and growing up in the hospital setting. Plus, I watched how the nurses treated my father when he was sick, and I wanted to change that and be a better nurse for my own patients. I have had severe headaches for the past six years. No one can seem to help me with them. I still overcame the pain, pushed myself to take exams and go to clinical, and finished nursing school without letting it defeat me.
“As hard as nursing school was, I’m very proud to say I got through it. I got my first nursing job, but unfortunately, I had to go on disability. My quality of life is so poor right now. I can’t get out of bed or drive because the pain is debilitating. I want to go back to work. I was born to be a nurse and give back to the patients. I look forward to when I can. I’ve learned that no matter how hard every day can be, you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. I’m so happy that I didn’t and that I didn’t listen to anyone that told me that I should.”