AVM's change us

After reading Barbara's post I had to put in my 2 cents worth. I have to agree how my AVM has changed my life and my outlook on life. After my bleed in 2001 I realized that I was given another chance in life and I sure decided to make the best of it. I knew that God left me on earth for a reason, but wasn't exactly sure at that time what for, but as the years progressed I figured it out. I still had 2 kids to finish raising. My daughter, at that time was 11 and my son was almost 10. I had 2 grown children from my first marriage that helped me to heal with the greatest support system ever!!!
When I started feeling human again, I knew I had to get out of the house, so a cyber friend of mine told me that volunteering was the way to go to see if I was capable of getting back into the world of the living. I checked into that immediately and went thru all the procedures and started a position in my local hospital gift shop. That was awesome and I fit right in. That was back in 2003 and I'm still there. In 2004, I went to my neurologist and explained some odd issues I was having. They did an MRI and discovered that I had another small AVM and an aneurysm. I was scared...I thought I was healed after the first crainiotomy.
As it turned out, my doc left a tiny piece of a vessel, so he thought because it was so close to the occipital area and he thought if he removed it I would go blind. As it turned out, it was a piece of the AVM and it was growing back. Consequently, the decision was to remove it and clip the aneurysm that was near my right temple. I surely wasn't excited about the thought of having another surgery, but I trusted Dr. Breeze and his judgement. He saved my life in an emergency situation, so in a planned surgery it would only go better! I did have a major fear, tho. I told my husband I was afraid that I would have a stroke this time. Don't know why I thought that, but I sure did!!
The surgery was set for September 3, 2004. (I think it was)
I don't know why, but right this minute, I'm not positive about the date. I know it was September 2004. (dang memory issues!!) So anyway, I took a leave of absence from the gift shop and told them I would be back in 8 weeks. I would heal rapidly from this surgery because it was planned and there would be no complications.
Well, I was almost right...the surgery went as planned, the doctor told my family. He got the AVM out and the aneurysm clipped. I think the surgery only took like 4 hours total. Then something happened! I wouldn't wake up! They couldn't get me to come out of the anesthesia. I never did find out why, but I wouldn't wake up for 3 days!! Now that's scarey!
As I write this, I don't remember all that they tried, they took me off my meds and they put me on a CPap machine. I don't know what finally did it, but on the 3rd day I woke up.
I remember they gave me water and jello. Then I was sure my worst fear came true. I couldn't hold the spoon. I couldn't feed myself. I couldn't hold the water, I dropped it on the floor. I spilled jello all over me. I couldn't talk. I couldn't sit up. I tried to tell my husband that I had had a stroke! I tried to get up...worst mistake ever. I hit the floor.(he tried to catch me) They tried to get me up, I couldn't put one foot in front of the other. I slurred my speech...OMG, I was done! I prayed silently and told God that I didn't want this to be!!!
Finally, a few hours later, we tried again and things were better.....YAYYY! I could walk with a walker! Oh Thank You, God!!
2 days after all of this I went home!!! The worst part of this recovery was the nausea. They said it was from the anesthesia. I was a sick girl for quite a few days, but once that passed I recovered like a champ!! I was back on my old AVM website giving love and support to everyone possible! Within 8 weeks almost to the day I was back at the hospital giving my love to the people at the gift shop.
Because of what I'd been thru I wore a Guardian Angel pin on my pink vest and I would tell the customers about my good fortune of still being here whenever I got the chance. People started giving me ANGEL pins and I was known as the ANGEL LADY around the hospital. I carry a small gold angel pin in my pocket and if I visit a patient who needs watching over I pay it forward and give them a Guardian Angel. I have quite a reputation around there and I love it!!!!
Since 2003 I've gotten a couple of menail jobs out in the workforce because I thought I would like to earn a little extra money and prove that I could. I may be disabled, but I can still fend for myself a little.
My most major accomplishment was in 2010 when I made the decision to go to college. I was 62 years old and never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'd spent 30 years in the restaurant business and then tried retail, merchandising and never felt accomplished. So, MEDICAL SCIENCES!! A 62 year old mom, grandma, AVM survivor with a hole in her brain was going back to college, 44 years after I graduated from high school.WOW!!
To make a very long 2 years short...I graduated in October 2012, cum laude with a 3.59 GPA and got my ASSOCIATES DEGREE in Medical Sciences.
So telling you all of this just to bring you up to date with what I am doing now and how I discovered why God kept me here after my AVM hemorrhage.
It took me 10 years to figure it out, but when the light bulb lit up, I knew!!
When I was getting ready to graduate, we had to do 160 hours of EXTERNSHIP at a medical facility. Kelley, our lady from school placed me in a pain doctor's office. That was all fine and good. It was close to home and the work was simple enough. I could have gotten a full time job out of it, BUT..
the office personell was staunch and serious. I was me, I was friendly to the patients and made them feel comfortable. I was only there 3 days. hahaha The serious mminded staff didn't like me. "SHE IS TOO FRIENDLY"
That was the 2nd time in my life I've heard that!! The office manager called Kelley and told her to tell me not to come back. I was only there for 3 days, but it sure didn't break my heart. I couldn't work in an environment where I couldn't be myself. I am not a snob and couldn't fake being one.
Kelley set up an interview in a short term physical rehabilitation center for me. When I went for my interview, I hit it off with the lady right away. We were both friendly and personable. I felt comfortable with her during the interview. I was supposed to be doing insurance billing and phone calling and stuff, but when she asked me to tell her something about myself I told her that I was a PEOPLE PERSON. She called the Activities Director into the office and introduced me to her. We really hit it off. That started my externship in the Activities department. I got to play with the patients. We play games, do activities, arts and crafts and many, many fun things. It was absolutely wonderful! I was working with another one of the guys that I was in school with. He showed me the ropes and we made a great team! When our externship was over in October and we graduated, he went on to take some time off and go back for his Bachelor's Degree...I stayed at the Center as a volunteer in the Activities Department. I filled out applications in various facilities around town. I have 3 certifications that I needed to decide on and the school would pay for, but I hadn't decided yet. Phlebotomy, EKG and one other. My being an elder, I wanted to make the decision on jobs I could do being older. I was NOT ready to retire.
The longer I played in the Activities area I started to realize exactly why God kept me on this earth. I loved working with the elderly. I loved working in this capacity, making them smile and happy. I developed a rapour with them. They were always happy to see me. They could talk to me about anything and everything. I was not like my boss, who was young and vivacious...I was more on their level. The longer I stayed there, the more valuable I became.
I was there from September 2012 to February 2011 as a volunteer and then they decided to put me on the payroll. I knew this is where I was meant to be. I was meant to work with these people to make them happy and feel loved.
This is the job I was kept on earth to have.
As a AVM survivor, you will figure out why God kept you here.
There is a reason and there is a purpose. It may take you a while to figure it out, but once you do....the realization will hit you like a ton of bricks and it will be awesome!
God Bless You All.

Hi Avm Sandy, you have posted an awesome blog! Thank you so much for sharing your story and I can tell God has blessed you repeatedly. Wow, I feel recharged after reading about your experience. I think the people you work with are so blessed to have you in their lives! Keep enjoying your life and yay for you!