FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A Fort St. John woman is still awaiting a solution to complications from her most recent surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Kaylene Farrell is currently waiting to be admitted into the University of Alberta Hospital after swelling from her surgery in June increased. The surgery was to remove a brain tumour that had reemerged.

Farrell’s doctors say the swelling is due to a tear in the membrane surrounding her brain.

Her staples were removed in Fort St. John about three weeks after her surgery, and she says she noticed some swelling. Farrell figured a bit of swelling was to be expected.

When the swelling increased the following day, she decided to go to the emergency room in Fort St. John.

Once admitted, she had blood work and a CT scan done. Neither of the tests showed signs of an infection, Farrell says, and the incision seemed to be healing.

Staff at the hospital contacted her neurosurgeon, who said the fluid should reabsorb on its own. They also did a lumbar puncture to send cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cultures to be tested for bacteria.

As this testing takes a couple of days, Farrell was given antibiotics every 12 hours as a precautionary measure. After four days of antibiotics, the CSF culture came back clear. She was sent home without explanation for the complication

Farrell had bi-weekly appointments with her surgeon. She was then diagnosed with pseudomeningocele, which she says is “an abnormal collection of cerebrospinal fluid that occurs due to leakage from the CSF-filled spaces surrounding the brain and/or spinal cord as a result of trauma or surgery.”

The tear has caused Farrell several symptoms including nausea, vomiting, a constant headache and neck pain.

At the beginning of August, she returned to the Fort St. John ER as the swelling worsened again. The previous tests were repeated, and Farrell was admitted to receive the antibiotics this time.

The pseudomeningocele was 10.5 centimetres by 7.5 centimetres by 5.5 centimetres.

The doctor in the ER contacted the neurosurgeon in Edmonton that was covering for her doctor, who was on vacation.

Farrell was asked to return to Edmonton last week, where they began draining the pseudomeningocele every couple of days and then putting a pressure bandage over the incision to hopefully allow the tear to heal.

She says over 250 millilitres of fluid was drained over the course of four days, but the swelling continued to return.

On Wednesday morning, she had another appointment with the neurosurgeon. They decided to stop the pressure wraps.

As of Wednesday, Farrell was waiting to be admitted into the University of Alberta ER. Her physicians had a plan to insert a small tube into her lower back to drain the CSF, which will hopefully take the pressure off of her head.

Other options include a shunt, which is a hollow tube surgically placed to drain CSF and redirect it to another part of the body to be reabsorbed; or exploratory surgery to see if there is a tear that could be patched.

Farrell had her first brain tumour removed in 2013 and was discharged nine days later.

She has returned to Edmonton over the years for care, where doctors have been keeping an eye on a questionable spot in subsequent MRIs.

Farrell was in nursing school when her symptoms came up again. She was told her tumour had returned during another trip to Edmonton after symptoms had worsened over a period of months.

This time, she says, it was smaller and slowly growing, so the surgery wasn’t considered urgent.

The surgery was done on June 10th, 2022 at 5:30 a.m., lasting approximately five hours.

Farrel’s friend, Keira Cockwill, created a GoFundMe at this time to support her following the surgery.

Now, Farrell’s mom, Jennifer Hall, has created a separate GoFundMe to support her daughter as physicians attempt to repair the tear in the membrane surrounding her brain.

“I just wish I could trade places with her — she’s my baby,” Hall wrote on the GoFundMe page.

For those who do not wish to donate to GoFundMe, there is an e-transfer option at kaylenemfarrell@gmail.com.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.