On December 7th, I celebrate entering 5th year of recovery after my craniotomy to remove 3 Arteriovenous Malformations from my brain.
My surgery was on December 7th, 2011. I was 22 years old, a college senior, and had closed my fall semester early after my 3rd and final Grand Mal Seizure. The fact that it has been 4 years already baffles me still. It seems like just last year that I was lying in the hospital bed, throwing up blood in the ICU.
In almost all aspects of my life, I don’t think I would have been where I am now had I not been diagnosed with AVM, and had brain surgery. It’s amazing how your whole life’s trajectory could change in a span of half a year. Before my first grand mal seizure, I was finishing up my 3rd year in a 5-year Master’s program to become a Special Education Teacher. While I still got my M.Ed. 3 years later, I now work in IT; a field I would never have imagined myself in until a few weeks before I actually started.
- 1 Year Annie-Versary Post – Finished 2 semesters of college; Walked first 5K Race
- 2 Year Annie-Versary Post – Graduated with a B.S. in Special Education
- 3 Year Annie-Versary Post – Graduated with M.Ed. in Special Education; Moved to NYC and began working as an Engineer
In the past few days, I have been browsing my Tumblr (OneMoreTi.me) I kept during the days surrounding my surgery. Since I am often asked by new members of Burgundy for Life what the recovery process was like, I decided to do a photo-journey to commemorate my 4 year anniversary. Please join me from two weeks before my surgery!
Hover over the photos for descriptions, and click on the photos for a larger version (slideshow). Blog continued below photos.
As of December 7th, 2015, I am Four Years AVM Free. Many days, I feel like I am treading in water or being pushed back by the currents. However, going through photographs and blog posts from the past 4 years of my life have made it apparent that I am indeed moving forward, even if in baby steps.
Over the past few years, I have been diagnosed with over a dozen disorders and conditions. Some went away after my surgery, some came to be because of the surgery (and the brain injury that followed), but all in all, they have been bundled up as obstacles that make my life a little more complicated, but manageable with accommodations.
Instead of fighting against and rejecting my “disorders,” I have learned to “accommodate” them, integrating them into my life alongside various accommodations and modifications in my lifestyle, outlook, and tactics. Since accepting them as part of me (that needs a little help), my life has become more peaceful, allowing me to remain grateful and content about my life.
As much as I have learned to compensate over the years, I still have times of lapse, where the stress and fatigue is too much, or I didn’t see my warning signs in time. I hope that while living with myself for the next foreseeable future, I will learn to better manage my fickle brain.
It is not often that you would see “Seizure” and “Thankful” in the same sentence, but I am truly thankful for that first Grand Mal Seizure in April 2011, which alerted us to the fact that there was something not quite right in my brain. Had it not happened, a Stroke would have probably been unavoidable, and I may not have been here to write write this post. I am also greatly thankful for the community that banded together to help me through the difficult ordeal. People who had no reason to help me worked together to help, and for that, I owe my life.
I have many goals and ambitions that have developed over the past few years, and I hope that the experiences I’ve had in the past half decade have equipped me well for the challenges of the future.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” – C.S.Lewis