The Chiari Conundrum - comic book brings awareness of brain condition

Chiari Malformation is a little-known condition than can cause a big headache. The Hill family from the Houston area had never heard of it until Caden was was diagnosed with it at the age of nine. FOX 26 News is helping them spread the word about Chiari Malformation through the power of a comic book. 

Caden, now eleven years old, and his father Christopher, are on a mission to help others who are, or will be, diagnosed with the condition. It took them a while to figure out what it was. Caden could sure feel it. 

"Mostly a nagging pain, a little bit of pain, but sometimes sharp pains back here," explains Caden, as he points to his head. Those severe headaches kept Caden awake at night. 

"We had an MRI to rule out headaches and we found out Chiari," says Christopher. "Then he went in for another MRI, to rule out other things, which is a pooling of fluid on the spinal cord and found out about that as well. It was a dramatic several months for us."

It took a lot of explanations from doctors and their own research to figure out what it is. 

"Then we had to explain it to Caden, and it was difficult because it was hard to explain that there is a hole in your brain, something is coming down and impeding spinal fluid flow, something that's not easy to explain to someone who's 9," says Christopher. He started drawing on a napkin to show his son different parts of the brain. 

"I am a terrible artist, and so Caden looked at it, and said, 'You should do a comic book about this, but get some other artists,' so we did," says Christopher with a laugh. He's a comic book writer by trade, so this came naturally to him.

"I kinda helped write it and he showed me it and I said if i liked it or not," says a smiling Caden. "I was also a character in the comic book." 

Christopher and Caden also asked to use my likeness as a medical reporter in the comic book as a character interviewing Caden. We help walk others through the meaning of the diagnosis. It also shows me interviewing PGA great JB Holmes, who is a professional golfer and underwent surgery for Chiari Malformation. His story is hopeful, because he's now back on the tour and considered one of the top golfers. 

The Hill family is happy that Christopher and Caden can turn a tough situation into help and hope for others. 

"It feels awesome," explains Caden. "I love helping the world, and I think this will help a lot of kids and families." Right now, the Hill family is in a "watch and wait" program and are trying to avoid surgery.  Christopher says a special diet does make a difference for Caden, so they're using that as preventative medicine, for now.   

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