Woman Who Had Half Her Brain Removed Becomes Inspiring Speech Pathologist
By all accounts, Christina Santhouse has an aspirational life.
At 28, she is married, owns her own home, attained a Master’s Degree and works a fulfilling job as a speech pathologist.
You would never suspect that on Feb. 13, 1996, she had half of her brain removed as a child. And 20 years after her surgery, she is thriving.
When Santhouse was 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis, an inflammation of one hemispheres of the brain. The condition is life threatening and causes frequent seizures.
By the time Santhouse was 8 years old, she was sometimes having up to 150 seizures a day, according to ABC News. In lieu of chemotherapy or steroid treatments, Santhouse had a 14-hour hemispherectomy, a procedure in which the right side of the brain was surgically removed.
She lost most of her motor skills on the left side of her body, but it didn’t deter her from fulfilling her dreams.
She decided in high school that she wanted to have career in which she helped people, and decided she wanted to become a speech pathologist.
She decided to attend Misericordia University, and according to an essay she published online.
Santhouse earned her undergraduate and master’s degree in five years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Upon graduation, she quickly got a job at Bucks County Intermediate Unit, which provides services for public schools in Philadelphia, and saved enough money to buy a house.
During this time, she also joined a church group and met her husband, Vince Paravecchia, who didn’t even notice she had a disability at first.
“One night, she mentioned ‘my condition,’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about?'” Paravecchia told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “She’s just so sweet, a great heart, she’s infectiously lovable.”
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