Teen counts days to brain surgery after ‘surreal’ diagnosis
Shelbey Beeton was just like any other teenager before she suffered a severe migraine.
Now she is faced with a looming brain surgery which could put her life on hold for months.
The Coast resident, whose dream is to save lives as an accident and emergency doctor, experienced her first splitting headache about a year ago.
But it was only this month the 18-year-old discovered the reason behind her pain.
"About three weeks ago, I got my second migraine, and nothing I did helped," Shelbey said.
"An hour later my dad rushed me to the ER and because my migraine was so severe, they thought I was having a stroke because the whole right side of my whole body just went dead."
After undergoing several tests, Shelbey was ultimately diagnosed with a chiari malformation with a syrinx.
"It just means that the bottom cortex of my brain has grown into my spinal column," she said.
"The diagnosis has been so quick that I've just had to adapt to everything.
"It's like I don't have time to take it all in just yet, because I'm still trying to figure out how life's going to be like after.
"It's such a surreal idea. I just didn't ever think that that would ever happen."
Although Shelbey said she could continue to "live on medication" without further treatment, the consequences could be dire for the active teen.
"Taking medication every day until something else went wrong was never an option for me," she said.
"(The doctor) said the medication can help, but if I don't get the surgery, the chances that I lose the nerve function in my arms and my legs is really high, because the pressure of the fluid build-up will just destroy the nerves in my spine.
"I'm so young, I have so much I want to do and that just terrifies me, to be in a wheelchair.
"I can't even fathom that.
"That's just not something I want to risk, so surgery it is."
The nursing student is now counting the days until her surgery on September 8 at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital.
Shelbey said she was doing her best to remain positive about the diagnosis and was grateful for support from her family and friends.
"It's been tough," she said.
"My little sister is 14, so during the day I'm the strong, tough, big sister, telling everyone it's going to be fine, and then in my spare time, it's really hard.
"I guess it's just the unknown.
"It's not something that I've ever thought about.
"Some days I'm fine and I get on with it because there's nothing I can do, and other days it just hits me harder than others.
"I know that I'm not doing it alone, which I'm sure is helping me cope, for sure."
The Caloundra Aquatic Lifestyle Centre employee said she would spend two weeks in hospital after the surgery, with recovery expected to take up to four months before she was able to live life as normal.
Now faced with a hefty medical bill, a close family friend created a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for Shelbey and her family.
Having already raised close to $11,000 as of Monday evening, Shelbey said the support she had received was "amazing".
"I really didn't think it was going to … I thought it was take a while for it to spread," she said.
"But it didn't.
"The support I get from everyone is awesome … with all the negativity in the world right now, it's so nice to just be reminded that people do care.
"The world is good, and it's just nice to see it for a change.
"Every dollar is more than I had yesterday, so it's a blessing."
Shelbey said she planned to donate any money raised on top of her goal to mental health charity Beyond Blue.