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Darren Chiacchia Recovering From Potentially Deadly Illness

7:07 PM, Oct 19, 2012   |    comments
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Darren Chiacchia

Buffalo, N.Y. - It looks like for the second time in four years, Western New York Olympian Darren Chiacchia has cheated death.

Chiacchia was admitted to Buffalo General Hospital about ten days ago, suffering from severe headaches.

"The headaches went from bad to worse, the best way to describe it is it's like your whole head is in a vice grip, unbelievable pressure. There's huge sensitivity to light and noise and excruciating pain," Chiacchia told Scott Brown in a phone interview.

Chiacchia was diagnosed with fungal meningitis, which attacks the the body's spinal fluid and the delicate membrane between the brain and skull.

Treatment is high doses of intravenous anti-fungal medications.

Darren says he finally started to feel better yesterday.

"Today is a better day, I can hold up my head myself, it seems so ridiculous, finally I have some energy coming back, a little bit of an appetite, been up walking around, I feel like I've rounded the corner," said Chiacchia.

Darren must have a guardian angel on his shoulder.

Back in 2008, he suffered critical injuries when one of his horses fell on him during a competition, leaving him with broken bones and a traumatic brain injury.

Scott Brown: "Do you feel you've had this black cloud hanging over you health-wise?"

Darren Chiacchia: "It seems that way for sure, but I think that things tend to go in cycles and I like to think of myself as a pretty tough guy, I'll get over this. I'll beat this, but on the exciting side, I've got some amazing young horses coming up through the ranks and lots of good positive things going on. You know me, I'm always focusing on those things."

Chiacchia says he expects to make a full recovery and plans on entering competitions again after the first of the year.

Chiacchia says he's been so ill, that his doctors weren't even concerned with trying to figure out how he contracted the disease.

There has been a huge outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to steroid shots made in Massachusetts. The outbreak has killed 12 people.

Fungal meningitis can also be acquired through routine farm work, with this type of fungus commonly found in the soil.

Chiacchia has farms in Springville and Florida.  You can send him a get well message on his Facebook page.

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