I’ll start by saying that there are many different places an AVM can show up in the body. Mine just happened to be in the back of my brain and close to my cerebellum. An AVM is basically a jumbled mess of veins that get tangled and over the years one of the walls gets pushed out until it breaks. I am not sure of the technical terms, so I’m just not going to mess with technical terms. I think technically, a ruptured AVM turns into a TBI if there is damage done. In my case, there was damage.
So there I was, just going to bed and trying to fall asleep on December 10th, 2003. All I remember is getting the worst headache of my life. My ex-girlfriend’s brother calling the ambulance, me being taken down the stairs and into the ambulance I go. I lived in Connecticut at the time. The next thing I remember is hearing the flatline and then falling asleep. I don’t think I was out for very long because obviously I’m still here and writing this blog. I found out later that I got to take a nice helicopter ride to Yale Medical Center, it’s too bad I don’t remember my only time in a helicopter. I know I was in an induced coma for a week or two. They cut the back of my head open, removed some bone from around my brainstem, removed part of my cerebellum, a tiny bit of my brain, and cut the clot out. There were no warning signs about the AVM throughout my entire life. It’s just one of those things that just happened. And it completely changed my life. I only have little glimpses of my time in the hospital, which was about a month and a half. My immediate family was there, some close friends went to visit me, but I don’t remember any of that. My parents told me I was very rude to the nurses sometimes. They understood, I guess it’s normal for brain injury patients to do that. I had a catheter in my wee-wee for weeks, unfortunately, I remember when they pulled it out. Not pleasant. I remember glimpses of physical therapy. All of my muscles atrophied so I could not walk or stand very well. I weighed around 135lbs, down from about 200lbs. Life was not good at this point. I have a glimpse of a memory of throwing up a lot after I began to start eating solid-ish food again. I think the physical therapists were trying to make me to way too much. I can’t describe the feeling of not being able to walk or even stand up, turn my head, eat food, or go to the bathroom by myself. My breath must have been bad because I have no idea if the nurses brushed my teeth at all, or took a shower. Glad I don’t remember that either. So, after the 20 or 30 staples were removed from the back of my head, I went poop on my own, I was conscious and talking I guess, coherent, they let me go home to where I was living at the time. I still don’t remember at what point I knew my old life was essentially gone and I don’t know what kept me going. And I still have no recollection of waking up. I think that is the weirdest feeling, not consciously knowing when I woke up.