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Martial Arts Instructor Loses Half Her Skull From Sinus Infection

A California martial arts instructor had to have half of her skull removed after an uncontrolled sinus infection spread throughout her brain. She co-described her skull disaster in a harrowing video over 7 million views on TikTok.

“Surgeons told me I would have been dead within a week if I hadn’t gone to the hospital,” Natasha Gunther, 25, told News Dog Media of the harrowing ordeal.

A before-and-after video, titled “Sometimes you can only laugh, right?” shows the long-haired karate enthusiast sitting in a car before the surgery. It is then cut to a post-op image of the girl, in which she bears a pronounced dent in her head where surgeons had to extract part of her skull.

The fiasco began in late 2021 after the judo black belt called the doctor after experiencing an unusual spike in sinus infections over the past year.

“Surgeons told me I would have been dead within a week if I hadn’t gone to the hospital at the time,” Natasha Gunther said.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther noticed an increase in sinus infections last year.
Gunther noticed an increase in sinus infections last year.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther's parents eventually forced their daughter to have a CT scan after she started it "throw up a lot and have horrible migraines."
Gunther’s parents eventually forced their daughter to have a CT scan after she started “vomiting a lot and having horrible migraines.”
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

“I’ve had about five or six of these,” explains Gunther, who typically only had congestion symptoms once a year. She specifically suffered from sinusitis, a nasal condition that occurs when “irritation occurs in your sinuses, which are the lining around the air spaces between bones that surround your nose.” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Unfortunately, neither she nor the doctor thought it was serious at the time, and they prescribed her a course of antibiotics – the standard treatment for the condition.

“As most people who get a sinus infection know, think nothing of it, and neither does my GP,” Gunther said of the seemingly harmless blockage. “I teach martial arts to kids, so I’m used to colds.”

“All in all, they removed 12 to 14 cm of my skull and put it in a freezer,” Gunther said.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther before and after her craniectomy.
Gunther before and after her craniectomy
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
The sadly judoka, who now has to wear a helmet to protect her unprotected brain, hopes the skull fragment will be reinstated by April.
The sadly judoka, who now has to wear a helmet to protect her unprotected brain, hopes the skull fragment will be reinstated by April.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther performs a kick on a mountain.
Gunther performs a kick on a mountain.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

However, Gunther’s parents eventually forced their daughter to have a CT scan after she started “vomiting a lot and having terrible migraines.”

A subsequent craniotomy — in which doctors remove part of the skull to examine the brain — revealed a massive cluster of strep and staph infections that had shifted her brain almost half an inch to the right.

Later that month, to relieve the pressure, doctors performed a more serious craniectomy, during which they removed about half of Gunther’s skull.

At first Gunther didn't think about the sinus infections.
At first Gunther didn’t think about the sinus infections.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Natasha Gunther, 25, who had half of his skull removed due to a sinus infection, California, United States, pictured in February 2022.
The 25-year-old eventually had half of her skull removed.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
The martial artist says she could not have made the journey without the support of her family, particularly her boyfriend Joao, who is also a martial arts instructor.
The martial artist says she could not have made the journey without the support of her family, particularly her boyfriend Joao, who is also a martial arts instructor.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
“If you have more than one sinus infection a year, or even just one sinus infection, please go to the hospital or go to the hospital [ear, nose and throat doctor] Just to make sure,” she said. “Please do not rely on your GP as this could be serious.”
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

“All in all, they removed 12 to 14 cm of my skull and put it in a freezer,” Gunther said. “I stayed in the hospital for another five weeks and also had another sinus surgery.”

The unfortunate judoka, who now has to wear a helmet to protect her unprotected brain, hopes the skull fragment will be reinserted by April. If that fails, doctors have to 3D print a copy of the component and use that in its place.

Needless to say, the medical ordeal has made life difficult for Gunther.

Gunther, 25, with her boyfriend Joao.
Gunther with friend Joao
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Joao is currently helping Gunther with physical therapy.
Joao is currently helping Gunther with physical therapy.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther at the hospital, where she underwent emergency neurosurgery, removing half of her skull.
Gunther at the hospital, where she underwent emergency neurosurgery to have half of her skull removed
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther with her parents Marty and Nicole.
Gunther with her parents, Nicole and Marty
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

“My life is very different than it used to be,” the taekwondo practitioner lamented. “I used to have a busy life teaching martial arts and hanging out with friends every day – like anyone in their 20s.”

But “I had trouble speaking when I came out of surgery, so I’ve had speech therapy regularly ever since.”

The martial artist says she could not have made the journey without the support of her family, particularly her boyfriend Joao, who is also a martial arts instructor.

“My life is very different than it used to be,” the taekwondo practitioner lamented. “I used to have a busy life teaching martial arts and hanging out with friends every day – like anyone in their 20s.”
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
A CT scan showed a bacterial buildup that had crowded out part of Gunther's brain.
A CT scan showed a bacterial buildup that had crowded out part of Gunther’s brain.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Later that month, to relieve the pressure, doctors performed a full craniectomy, removing about half of the patient's skull.
Later that month, to relieve the pressure, doctors performed a craniectomy, removing about half of Gunther’s skull.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther with Joao in the hospital.
Gunther with Joao in the hospital
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

Gunther recently uploaded a video of her hugging her faithful beau with the caption, “My rock in this part of life.”

She says Joao “has done a lot of psychotherapy so I can get my energy back into my body.” However, the girl maintains that certain martial arts moves, like grappling, “will be too risky for me to ever do again.”

“But I stay positive and try to have a sense of humor about everything,” said Gunther, who is currently trying to raise awareness of how sinus infections that seem harmless can get out of control.

Gunther has to wear a helmet to protect her brain.
Gunther has to wear a helmet to protect her brain.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther practiced martial arts in the days leading up to her life-changing surgery.
Gunther practiced martial arts in the days leading up to her life-changing surgery.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Gunther has to do without grappling and other arts due to her condition.
Gunther is forced to forgo grappling and other close-contact arts due to her condition.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
Sinisitus usually goes away on its own or with the help of antibiotics, dangerous complications can arise if it reaches the eyes or brain.
Sinusitis usually heals on its own or with the help of antibiotics, but dangerous complications can arise if it reaches the eyes or brain.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

“If you have more than one sinus infection a year, or even just a Sinus infection, please go to the hospital or hospital [ear, nose and throat doctor] Just to make sure,” she said. “Please do not rely on your GP as it could be serious.”

Gunther added: “I don’t want anyone to go through what I did. I’ve got half a head now and you can avoid that!”

"In rare cases, sinus infections in the center of the back of the head can spread to the brain," The Cleveland Clinic reported. "This can lead to life-threatening conditions such as meningitis or brain abscess."
“In rare cases, sinus infections in the center back of the head can spread to the brain,” the Cleveland Clinic reported. “This can lead to life-threatening conditions such as meningitis or brain abscess.”
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
“But I stay positive and try to have a sense of humor in everything." explained Gunther.
“But I stay positive and try to take everything with humor,” explained Gunther.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media
“I don’t want anyone to go through what I did. I’ve got half a head now and you can avoid that!” said Günther.
@natasha_gunther/News Dog media

While sinusitis usually resolves on its own or with the help of antibiotics, dangerous complications can arise when it reaches the eyes or brain.

“In rare cases, sinus infections in the center back of the head can spread to the brain,” the Cleveland Clinic reported. “This can lead to life-threatening conditions such as meningitis or brain abscess.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/martial-arts-teacher-loses-half-her-skull-due-to-sinus-infection/ Martial Arts Instructor Loses Half Her Skull From Sinus Infection

DUSTIN JONES

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