A 26-year-old woman was shocked when a simple sinus infection turned out to be something far more serious.
Martial arts instructor Natasha Gunther Santana, from San Jose, California, suffered from five separate sinus infections in 2021 – and was given antibiotics to treat them.
But when the final one didn’t clear, Natasha knew something wasn’t right as she was constantly vomiting, experiencing severe migraines, and started to become unusually angry and irrational.
Some tests at the hospital revealed that Natasha had immunodeficiency PRKCD mutation – which meant that the antibiotics weren’t working for her infection anymore – and a CT scan revealed a brain abscess.
To treat this, the 26-year-old needed seven operations in total (four brain surgeries and three sinus ones).
But after the final brain surgery, Natasha was left with half of her skull removed and was forced to wear a special helmet for five months to protect her head.
Natasha also had learn to walk and talk again through intense therapy – and says she wouldn’t have been able to get through it without the help of her husband, 32-year-old Joao.
She said: ‘I wore a helmet and tried my best not to go outside. I went out of the house for doctor visits and maybe less than five times out to places like the mall.
‘I’d wear my helmet and a hoodie so people couldn’t see it. It’s extremely scary.
‘I was also very traumatised and afraid of people walking by and accidentally bumping into me. It took me about a year to get over the trauma and fear of being hit by someone by accident.
‘I felt very insecure and it made me extremely depressed.’
But although Natasha went through an incredibly tough time during this period, she’s come out the other side with a more positive mindset.
She and her husband have also since welcomed a baby boy.
‘I have a beautiful baby boy named Raiden, and my husband and I are about to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary,’ Natasha added.
‘I have had headaches every day since, that hasn’t gone away.
‘I’ve come to terms that this is my new normal and I’m just happy to be alive.
‘If you have a sinus infection, and have more than three a year, get a head CT and see a specialist. It could save your life.’
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