Teacher Could Die From Laughter Because Of Brain Condition

Chiari malformation teacher laughYoungsters are a provocative bunch. They can make their teachers fume with rage or collapse into laughter. But for one young teacher, the latter could be deadly. Carolyn Gibbons, 23, has a rare neurological disorder that makes laughter potentially lethal.

Gibbons suffers from Chiari malformation, reports the Daily Mail. The lower part of her skull is too small, which pushes the cerebellum -- the part of the brain that controls balance -- downward. Sudden movements create intense pressure, and can block the flow of protective fluid to her brain. Anything too serious could cause her brain to pop out of her skull.

Approximately one in every 1,000 children is born with Chiari malformation, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. But symptoms may only appear in adolescence or adulthood, or never at all. Gibbons only realized that she had the condition in March 2010, when she came home from work at a high school in Southhampton, England, and passed out -- then woke up deeply unwell.

Her mother told her to go to the hospital, where doctors thought at first she had meningitis. After a CT scan, she was finally diagnosed with Chiari malformation Type 1, and given a daily concoction of 50 pills and painkillers to relieve the pressure.

Gibbons suffers from blurred vision, slurred speech and violent migraines. When she moves abruptly, she feels as if her head "is about to pop." The jerky movements that can accompany a fit of laughter risk killing her on the spot.

An operation is the only real treatment for the condition. Surgeons removed part of Gibbons' vertebrae and a chunk of her skull this summer, in order to give her brain more space. But Gibbons had an allergic reaction to the medical patch that covered the gap in her skull, and contracted chemical meningitis.

"I am living in a bubble of pain," she told the Daily Mail, and often stays awake for days on end. "I just hope the drastic surgery I've had resolves the problem so I can properly laugh again without risking my life."

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