You Won’t Believe How This Woman Almost Became Paralyzed During Her Pregnancy

September 22, 2016  |  



In an interview with Cosmopolitan writer Kira Piekoff, Aimee Garrison, a 33-year-old Michigan native and marathoner, recounted how she almost became paralyzed during her pregnancy last year.

Aimee said her pregnancy was flawless for nearly 25 weeks until a slight pain began to creep in her shoulder. Like anyone who exercises regularly, Aimee thought nothing of the pain and believed was simple the result of a strained muscle. “It had bothered me before. But I blew it off as weights,” she said. But as time unfolded, Aimee realized that the pain was becoming increasingly worse—to the point that she couldn’t apply mascara without both her right arm and back aching.

To find relief and solutions, Aimee visited her obstetrician who then sent her to a doctor who specialized in treating marathoners. That doctor told Aimee she had a pinched nerve and gave her a variety of exercises to help her stretch. However, the stretches and even a visit to a chiropractor provided no relief. The pain became intense Aimee couldn’t even sleep for two weeks. “It was so bad I thought, This can’t be a pinched nerve, it has to be something else,” she shared.

When Aimee went back to the hospital, a doctor suggested she get an MRI. Although the MRI requires patients to ingest a contrast agent, which is a liquid that makes the MRI image show more clearly, that could potentially harm fetuses, Aimee decided this was her last resort to find a legitimate diagnosis. “I had to sign my life away saying they weren’t responsible for the baby. I cared more about my baby than myself, but I was like, do whatever you have to do. I felt like a horrible mom,” Aimee said.

After studying her MRI results, doctors told Aimee she had a tumor in her spinal cord and it may have been growing since she was a child. Tumors found in spinal cords can cause disruptive bowel movements, inability to walk and affect the body’s nervous system. Although doctors wanted to remove the tumor immediately, that would’ve required Aimee’s baby to be born at a mere 28 weeks. Dr. Daniel Orringer, however, told Aimee since her tumor was growing slowly, they could wait another ten weeks for the fetus to be born full-term and in the interim they would help her manage her pain. Dr. Orringer told Cosmo, “It was a little bit of leap of faith to say yeah, it’s probably a low-grade tumor, we can probably sit and wait and hope things will be OK. That was the hardest thing to do as a doctor — to know when not to operate as well as to know when and how to operate.”

After giving birth December 22 and later recovering from a 20-hour spinal surgery, five-months later, Aimee is finally getting her life back. She’s able to run again and help her husband take care of their children. And although she still experiences pain in her right arm and shoulder, doctors tell Aimee it may take up to two years for her nervous system to regenerate itself. Still, Aimee is appreciative that her health scare turned out well in the end. “When you’re pregnant, you know there’s an end. With this, I don’t know if there’s an end. I might feel the way I do forever. But it could have gone worse ways,” she said.

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