Woman won’t let disorder define her

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Monday, November 12, 2007
— It’s been more than four years since Janesville native Heather (Buggs) Schwartz was diagnosed with a serious neurological disorder, and she has plenty of doctor visits and surgeries to show for it.

Schwartz has a Chiari brain malformation where the bottom part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine. Chiari causes multiple problems for her, including headaches, ringing in her ears, numbness in her limbs, blurred vision and occasional loss of vision.

The condition has forced her to be off work from August 2006 to July 2007 before she returned part time. More time off is expected as she prepares for another surgery in December. With many medical and travel bills and lost income, a spaghetti benefit dinner is being held for Schwartz from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Albany Lions Club, 402 N. Cincinnati St.

After seeing several Wisconsin doctors, Schwartz went in February to the Chiari Institute in New York, where she had surgery in April because her cerebellum tonsils rested on the first vertebrae of her neck.

In July, however, she was informed that her condition hadn’t improved, and she would need a craniocervical fusion. During that surgery, scheduled for next month in New York, Schwartz’s neck and head will be cut open, and a rod will be attached to her skull and screwed to the vertebrae in her neck.

Schwartz is a wife and mother of three children, and she said in a letter to the Gazette she does not want the disorder to define who she is.

“The last two years have been hard for me to be the best wife and mother I can be,” she said. “I am hopeful that this surgery in December will be successful and my last surgery, and I can return to the mother and wife I once was.”


A spaghetti benefit dinner will be held Saturday, Dec. 1, to help raise money for Heather Schwartz’s cost of traveling, time off work and medical expenses. The dinner will be from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Albany Lions Club, 402 N. Cincinnati St., Albany. The dinner will include raffle tickets and a disc jockey.

Cost is $5 for adults and $2.50 for children.

Any individuals or businesses wishing to donate toward the spaghetti dinner may contact Sandy Kamholz at (608) 931-3170 or Stefanie Holden at (608) 220-8015.

Last updated: 11:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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