A month ago, Kyra Ritchie was part of a team that had just 2.83 miles to go before completing a 100-mile running challenge. Now she lies in a coma after experiencing complications during brain surgery.
Ritchie, 26, experienced a series of escalating symptoms beginning last year. Headaches progressed to dizziness and blackouts. She consulted a medical professional after blacking out while driving in March 2017.
The Carmichael woman was diagnosed with a pseudotumor cerebri, a condition involving increased pressure within the skull – similar to what happens when there is a tumor, but without the presence of a tumor. She underwent a procedure to place a stent in her brain to relieve blood pressure on the optic nerve, which would have left her blind if it had gone untreated. During the surgery, Ritchie suffered a stroke and brain damage that left her in a coma.
Ritchie has shown signs of improvement in recent days. When her friends visited her, she was “moving around a lot” and her eyes were twitching, said friend Stephanie Beile.
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“It was like she was trying to talk,” Beile said.
Ritchie also stretches, yawns and moves in response to pain and other tests, though it is unclear whether these movements are automatic or intentional, said her mother, Kelly Ritchie.
Her family and friends are optimistic that Kyra will continue to improve.
Kyra is a “spitfire of a person. She’s like a rocket in a tiny human,” Beile said. “She’s going to come out of it and be the same crazy person.”
Prior to the surgery, Kyra lived with her family and loved spending time with them. She worked as a receptionist at Placer Insurance Agency. She was constantly active and liked running, working out, boating and skydiving. Kyra also volunteered as a mascot cheer coach and was a pillar of support for her family, friends and community, Kelly said. People know her as a “feisty” and “loyal” person, said Marissa Day, Kyra’s friend.
Kyra’s family and friends stay with her all day. Kelly reads her childhood books, sings her songs and helps her with range and motion exercises. Friends who knew Kyra when she was younger and even strangers have sent cards and other positive messages, which are read to Kyra and used to decorate her hospital room.
A GoFundMe campaign set up to pay for Kyra’s medical expenses and support her family has raised $23,035 of a $50,000 goal. Other community efforts to raise money include fundraisers at bar The Blind Pig’s annual car show and restaurant Silver Sake.