There is periodic laughter as Matthew Lemke unleashes details of his life at a rapid pace. It’s a clear indication of just how busy he has been. Finding humor in it all almost requires skill.
“It’s just mind-blowing; all the stuff I’ve been through,” Matthew said with a smile.
The 28-year-old is a relatively new Walmart associate at Store 330 in Victoria, Texas. He has spent the last decade changing jobs, pursuing dreams and figuring out how to live with a rare, chronic illness.
“That’s kind of what really got me into the book writing stuff,” Matthew said. “I wanted to start spreading awareness for these diseases and these conditions that aren’t really talked about a whole lot.”
It started with his leg going numb. Then his arm. The first few doctors he visited chalked it up to him being young with a lack of exercise. It wasn’t until Matthew saw a neurosurgeon in San Antonio that a clearer picture of what was going on started to form. The neurosurgeon found a cyst on Matthew’s spinal cord. A diagnosis soon followed: Arnold-Chiari Malformation. Brain surgery was next.
“There’s no cure for it. It’s just treatments, and they do that over and over again,” Matthew said. “I had one surgery. I woke up a quadriplegic from my surgery. I was paralyzed, and I couldn’t move.”
Matthew said he had to re-learn how to walk and use his hands and arms again. The paralysis eventually went away, but he still has trouble using his hands and fingers sometimes. Arnold-Chiari Malformation is a condition where the brain continuously slips out of the skull. More brain surgeries could be in Matthew’s future. His journey through the diagnosis is documented in his first book, titled: Faith Over Fear: My Journey with Arnold-Chiari Malformation.