Thursday, May 6, 2010


Some of you may have wondered where I've been this past month: fewer FB updates, unanswered emails, no blog posts, no new product, and even backing out of The Bazaar of the Bizarre and The Comedy Cabaret (both decisions KILLED me inside!) Well, here's what's been going on:

About four weeks ago I started having the worst headache. It felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to the back of my head. I went to an urgent care clinic and was diagnosed with a tension headache, treated, and released. I gave it a few days and the pain wasn't subsiding so I went to my family doctor who prescribed some meds and sent me home. Went back to a Doctor because I was still in pain and I was now having trouble seeing. He sent me to get a CT scan. So off to the urgent care clinic (because who wants to wait at ER?!?!?) Clear CT. Went back to family Doctor to say the CT was clear and she sent me to the ER.

Toronto East General Hospital. Tuesday 2:30pm. I was admitted to the ER at 11:30pm. Not too shabby. The ER doc takes one look at me and says, "I think I know what's wrong."

Super. Please share.

"Pseudotumor Ceribri."

Sounds lovely.

What that means essentially is that my body has too much spinal fluid, which is pushing on my head and spine  causing pain and pressing on my eyes causing gradual loss of sight. It's most prominent in overweight women of child-bearing age although it's not extremely common.(I couldn't have won the lottery?!?!?)

So, what now?
  • Well, I was in hospital for a week having all sorts of fun tests including a spinal tap to remove fluid (they are not nearly as bad as everyone thinks!) 
  • Was put on Diamox, a medication intended to slow spinal cord production.
  • LapBand Surgery - they believe the quick weight loss will allow the spinal fluid to drain and hopefully I'll get some of my sight back. 
  • Optical Nerve Sheath Fenestration Surgery... basically eye surgery to drain some spinal fluid. Kinda gross... I don't even wanna think about it. Look it up on your own. It only lasts for 6 months and there is a 1% chance of going blind.
 So folks, this is where I've been for the past month. I hope I didn't come off whiny. I'm more frustrated. I miss my art. Even the simple thing, take writing this blog, require a magnification app which makes the words appear approx.1" tall and large scrapbook paper letters cut out and double-sided taped to my keyboard: both courtesy of my fantastically amazing husband of course!

Plus we have to save ever penny. Did I mention my lap band surgery isn't covered by OHIP or my private insurance? Even thought it's emergency, not vanity we will have a bill of $16,000 coming our way shortly! (There is a PayPal button on the right for making donations. We hope you can help us out, but we do understand times are tough!)

♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ Yes I'm in the shop, but so are fine vintage sports cars! You still can buy amazing things by checking out my SHOP and these other fine establishments:
Plastic Wrap, Trap Door, The Rage, and Ransack the Universe! All awesome and all in TO!
I might even be up for some shows too if someone were to take on the the not-so-flattering job of making sure I don't fall down, I don't break anything, and that no one pays me in wooden nickels! WOW! I can see the line forming fast!!!)
Anyway, I'll still be moseying around and thanks for all the support! You all ROCK!
Creepily yours,

Melissa Hamel-Smith:
Owner and Artist of Kaotic Ekko's Curiosities


  1. Hi Melissa,

    I feel your pain (literally) I have the same thing, mine is caused by Chiari Malformation (my brain is too big and blocks the flow of CSF) I'm trying to make a living from my art as I can't work now but obviously its very difficult!
    I hope they can sort something out that will help you, I understand how frustrating it is.

    Laura xx

  2. Hi Melissa, I am very sorry this has happened to you. I have suffered from headaches from a young teenager and most of the time there is no well said explanation for them- severe dipilidating migraines/ tension headaches etc.- I've had all the tests too but no lapband- that would be great but I feel your pain on the cost:/. Your story is comforting as I can sympathesize with your pain and all the tests but my heart goes out to you and your love of your heart. Hope all will be well with you.

  3. OMG Mel...I'm sending you some cash now and might do some kind of fundraiser for you. I will figure it out and then see how it goes.

    I can't imagine what a struggle this must be for you. I missed you so much at the Bazaar of the Bizzare! I've been sick for the past month and hadn't realized just how terrible it has been for you. I think its an important thing to share.

    You DO NOT come across as whiny! duh. In fact I'm sure if I were you I'd be a LOT more whiny.

    Mel, You will get better. And we'll see what we all can do to help.


  4. Hugs and magnifying glasses to you! xoxoxo.

  5. I can't imagine what you're going through, but at least you've maintained your sense of humour. I think you're being remarkably strong.
    Clockwork, if you come up with any fundraising ideas (perhaps all of Mel's artist friends could get together and sell work in a group show and donate all the profits?) I would be happy to participate.

  6. Thank you all so much! I'm overwhelmed by everyone's support and compassion... even people I don't even know!

    Laura - I'm so sorry you're suffering too! With all the modern tech we have is there anything they can do? And remember it's not just you... being a successful artist is hard for us all and we have extra challenges... just means we have to push harder so we can shine brighter!

    LilianEveDesigns - Goodness! Not you too! I'm so sorry you're suffering as well? Have they mentioned spinal fluid? Maybe suggest it next time with your family doctor. They say that this is hard to diagnose until the sight starts going. Don't wait as long as I did! Mine started with a tension headache!!! Be well.

    ClockworkZero - Thank you for your donation... We;ve already spoken and I do smell mischief in the air regarding a fundraiser.... ;)

    Krissi - Thanks, love.

    Death-Rae - Thanks so much! We;re got a couple artists working on some preliminary details for a fundraiser and you are 100% invited! As far as the sense of humor, that's from my mom... "Chin up Charlie!" Or was that Willy Wonka... :D

  7. What a crazy story. I can't believe that OHIP won't even partially cover the LapBand in this situation, especially if your doctor is saying you need to do it.

    I've had some health issues this past year, and know that drowning feeling when you can't work to make money but medical costs (in my case, medications) pile up (mind you, it pales in comparison to your medical bill).

    If a fundraiser does materialize, contact me. I don't have any extra cash to donate, but I would be able to throw together a small Ghoul Friday basket of goodies if you do a door prize raffle or something similar.

    I hope you find ways to keep creating while you go through this.

  8. Melissa - I heard about you through Ghoul Fridays Blog, and will make a blog post of my own.
    I have pondered the thought of loosing my sight, or having other health issues that would stop me from being able to create. I truly do not know how I would handle it.
    I'm wishing you the best outcome for health and everything involved.

  9. I'm so sorry to read this! I hope you are doing better! I found your blog through Kimily right above me on her Ghoul Friday blog.

    I have also blogged about you and am trying to think of something I can do to help!

    Best Wishes,

  10. Oh mel! I had no idea!! I have had a spinal tap (and resulting spinal headache) and I can only being to feel your pain. You are in my heart, love, because my father is nearly blind and has been since birth. You take your time, get better and come back when you can!!! :) MWAH! Love ya!! Amy

  11. I found your blog through Kelsey the Ewok.

    I have Chairi,(and a million other issues lol) and I am a bit lost as to why they won't put in a shunt to drain the fluid? Yeah they are a huge pain to deal with but you wouldn't be the first to have one removed.

    I hope you get well soon!

  12. ACK! Poor little Torontosaurus. I tweeted and blogged and AF forumed your cause. Hang in there, sweetie!--dj

  13. Ghoul Friday - Thank you tons for featuring me on your blog (! There are several fundraisers in the works and as they solidify I'll be sure to post here, FB, etc.

    Kimily - Thank you so much for your kind words. It's certainly been difficult for me these past 5 weeks not being able to work. I'm hoping after the surgery things will go back to normal. If not, I'll just have to create new art with the skills I have!

    Kelsey - Thank you so much for posting about me on your blog(! You've already helped! As far as doing more, we may be having some online fundraisers in which artists make art donations. I'll keep everyone up-to-date here, FR, etc.

    Mama - Thanks for all your kind words! *hugs*

    Starre - I'm sorry to hear you can identify! For some reason the doctors have reserved the shunt as a last resort, thinking that getting my excess weight off first might be safer and solve the problem. Good luck with your issues. I feel for you! *hugs*

    DJ - Torontosaurus... I LOVE it! lol Thanks so much for the reposts darlin'! And I'm hanging in there... you know me, I don't go down without a fight!