My journey to becoming AVM free

Little did I know that after collapsing at work due to what was thought as migraine, that this was going to be a pivotal day that would change my life forever! I would then find myself in the ICU of Perpetual Succour Hospital only to realize how seriously the situation was I had a brain hemorrhage due to an undiagnosed AVM (it was more than just a “migraine” as it was thought to be). I was on a ventilator and aside from that I had tubes coming out from my mouth, nose and on my head!! The first day of this experience is something that is so very hard to remember, and even more difficult to describe in words. I only remember bits and pieces of that fateful night and have to say that my family went thru so much more agony and pain than I did, not knowing if I was going to survive the night. I was just crying the whole time of my first day because of the realization on how my seemingly perfect life came to end. Just when I was losing hope and getting to the stage of depression, from a deep sleep I was awakened by people singing and praying outside my ICU room. It was then the nurse whispered to me and said “Rhey, that’s your family and friends praying for you so keep on fighting”, I cried so much knowing that there are people waiting for me to get back on my feet so I regained strenght. One by one they entered my room grabbing my hand, I could tell that they tried their best not to cry but instead they remained strong and gave me the sweetest smiles I had ever seen in them. I Truly believe it was during those first few days that my angels were being rallied up and sent on my way to watch over me and to pour some extra strength in both; me, my friends and my family, to get us all thru that terrifying trial. Much to everyone’s surprise (doctors included), I pulled thru a few days later with flying colors (aside from my vision no other problem was affected which is very very rare for my case). I recovered so well that in just 3 days I was out of ICU and went to a regular room. It was noted that I was “lucky” to survive with no complications at all but I knew it was “miracle” that saved me. Maybe God was with me the whole time for real!:pray::raised_hands:

The struggle didn’t end there as I have to regain my balance and learn to walk again. Every theraphy was like a rollercoaster ride I get so dizzy by just sitting, walking a few steps and even on riding a wheelchair!:joy: But I was determined to stand up slowly then I got to regain my balance, believe it or not that this brain surgery patient was ready for discharge after 2 weeks and 3 days!

In those time of my hospital stay I learned to appreciate even the smallest of things. A glutton like me gets excited on what kind of foods the hospital would deliver on each meal😂 and being so alive when friends and relatives come to visit💕

At the end I lost one special person who I truly loved (the guy whom I dated for quite some time was no where to be found and when I asked my friend if he knew, I was told that he was informed of my situation but he was “busy” he couldn’t come), but then most of my friends some whom I did not have any contact for years and some whom I did not know did actually messaged me which kinda amazes me (I lost one but I got even more love💕). But of all those messages one certain message kinda strucked me the most, “I don’t know how to handle the fact that you are dying. And I don’t understand why you are so upbeat and happy all the time, and it makes me uncomfortable, because I know you are dying, and I don’t know how to interact with you.” I would probably feel similarly. How does one interact with someone who is dying, anyways? But let me clear things up I AM NOT DYING EVERYONE. I am now recovering to get me ready for the next stage of my surgery. I apparently made many people uncomfortable with my positive attitude, smiles, and jokes. But there was a reason for the way I acted.

At the age of 22, I had no choice but to accept my mortality. That is a cruel, cruel concept to have to accept. Life was just “beginning.” I was supposed to graduate by march next year, and work in a career that I was deeply passionate about. But instead, I was faced with the reality that I may die soon. And that was a fact that I had to accept, whether I liked it or not. But I will not die. No matter what I did or did not do, I will come out of surgery ALIVE💪. Because of those who stood by me and helped me through every step of the way (family, friends and those whom I didn’t know but cried and prayed for my recovery) are still with me now, and I love them and cherish them so much. You’ve all brushed off the awkwardness and fear I innately have towards fatality, and walked with me as I inched along a tightrope pulled across a valley of death. For saying that “everything is going to be alright,” and treated me like a peer, instead of a “dying girl” or “sick girl,” as many tended to suddenly see me. They allowed me to smile and laugh and be brave, and for that, I owe my life. Every day I woke up, thankful that I had, once again, woken up. I promise to live by day, for “tomorrow”.

For almost a month, many people have commended me on my “Bravery,” or called me a “Hero” or an “Inspiration.” But I was not Brave. I am not a Hero, and I am not an Inspiration. These words are for those people who stood up and chose to stay with me💕

The real Bravery are in my friends, who supported me throughout the darkest moments (even being the first ones to come at the emergency room to stay with me when my family was still on their way as I was living far away from the city​:two_hearts:) and being my happy pill who takes away all of my pains (my SAO, OARSS, LCC and the whole Josenian Family​:two_hearts: aslo to my sisters highschool classmates who actually made their hospital visit as their mini reunion​:joy: seeing you mga manghod made me feel at ease and actually made me cry knowing that my sister had so many great friends​:two_hearts:). The real Heroes are those people from work who rushed me to the hospital and for being my guardians (it was indeed a true example of “service from the heart” that I got from you my Quest family!:two_hearts:), my doctors and all of the medical interns who did their best to save me, the nurses and student nurses (those from St. Paul University Dumaguete​:two_hearts:
thank you soo much!:two_hearts:)who assisted and turned this scaredy cat whose afraid of needles to be couragous, listening to me when I was so down (shoutout to all of the ICU nurses!:two_hearts:) and to the Sisters of St. Paul who blessed me for my fast recovery​:two_hearts:. The real Inspiration is my family, who tenaciously walked by me throughout the whole ordeal, and then found it in themselves to let me move on with my life, despite everything in their tenderly instinct telling them never to let go. They allowed me to take on the days in whatever way still possible, celebrating with me the smallest of accomplishments, like being able to sit upright, being able to walk on my own and on how my vision gets back to normal each passing day​:two_hearts:

They all had a choice of walking away, and seeing me as “that sick girl who had brain surgery,” detached. Given how much of a liability I was, it would have made their lives much easier, with more time for themselves (after realizing how much everything costs on my bill to save me, I actually thought about how cheaper it was if I just died which would only cost them a funeral😂) And yet they CHOSE to be by my side. They are the real Heroes, Inspiration and Brave beyond words. Because there is, really, nothing braver than accepting what the situation was.

I am a survivor. But I refuse to merely “survive.” I strive to “thrive.” Because to merely “survive” would mean that I am wasting the “extra” bit of time I was given, thanks to the work of my support system and doctors. Time that was denied to many with similar conditions. The only Choice I had was whether or not I was going to keep on walking and keep on smiling. So I did! (This “smiling” and “palaban” nga Rhea which everyone knew will never change!!:blush::muscle:) I will smile and thrive, as I continue to battle to be completely AVM free!:two_hearts::muscle: Specail mention to Papa G, Thank you!! I knew it was you the whole



Welcome to AVM Survivors! Like you say, it isn’t about mere survival but about quite a reset on life and it’s good to hear your story.

You’re amazingly young and I’m not surprised one of your friends found it confusing and difficult to deal with you being so ill. It’s a very early age to have to deal with these things. It sounds like you have a whole bunch of great friends and family around you though: often events like a haemorrhage show us who our real friends are and you sound like you’ve got a great bunch!



Welcome to the family and just know you are not alone and will recover in no time… It is easy to give up but harder to keep fighting so as fighters here we take on all challenges and overcome them with our strength, positivity and faith… please continue to keep us posted on your journey and wishing you all the best with the future AVM free… God bless!

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Love that you recognize your supporters as the brave heroes! You got this!