Post-AVM Dating

Hey Guys,

I'm on my 4th week of post-craniotomy recovery, and doing pretty well. I've started to exercise a little, and I'm going back to work part-time next week. I wish these were the biggest items on my mind, but as you might guess from the discussion title, there's something else I'm thinking about a little more.

Basically, I wanted to pose the question to single people out there who have had successful AVM removals: how did you handle getting back into the dating game? I've never been particularly good at geting dates, but I'm trying to view this as a chance to start fresh. However, I've got a few concerns:

1. Keppra. Not only am I on it (with the impatience and "KeppRAGE" that comes along with it), but it comes with the restriction of not drinking alcohol. Drinking beer used to be my go-to vice, and going to bars was my go-to weekend activity. Not being able to drink kind of kills any reason to go to the bars, and being on a 6-month driving ban (due to having a seizure in Sept) means I can't really help out as a designated driver. Does anyone else still go out? What other kind of activities do you do instead?

2. When you ARE dating someone, do you ever bring up the fact that you've had brain surgery? Having an AVM has been a big part of my life this year (and is a big part of many people's lives for many years), but I'm afraid of ever mentioning I've had "brain surgery". I feel like that would turn off any girl I'm talking to. Like the impression is, "Oh, you've had brain surgery, so you must be screwed up in the head or something." Of course, we were screwed up BEFORE the surgery, and now we're better! But I don't expect a person off the street to think like that. Are my expectations too low?

If anyone has any stories they'd like to share of getting back into the dating game after recovering from an AVM removal, please share! I'd be very interested to hear about it.


Hi, Chris, it sounds like you are doing great after your craniotomy. I don't have any experiences to share, but I would suggest you think about which activities you really enjoy doing and can still do well enough (sailing, music, hiking, chess, art) and join some social groups that do those activities. You will meet and get to know people who have the same interests as you. If they know you already, there is less chance that they will reject you after hearing about the "brain surgery." Instead of trying to chase down the right one, just focus on trying some new things and meeting new friends, and there's a good chance the right one will come along. Best of luck with the dating scene!

Hi Chris,
Dating was stressful prior to having my AVM. I've quit smoking and drinking since my Stroke. Keppra Rage takes time to learn to control. I've recently Started dating a women I've known for a long time. Make sure your looking for the right women for you, this is a serious commitment. I told her prior to asking her out, I don't B.S. my girl. Since I cant drive we take public transportation it takes longer, but makes for a longer date. If your body and mind is ready go for it.

No direct experience Chris, but here's what my son did following his brain surgery. He, like in your pic, always wore his hair short. Even after surgery. His scar is easy to see through his hair. He doesn't make a big deal about it when some people ask. It is what it is. Depending on the people and circumstances, he might say "I had brain surgery" or go into more detail.

Look at the scar as a conversation starter if that works for you.

He drives now, so it's not as big a deal.

If it fits your beliefs, start attending a young adults or singles group at a church. Most of them do social things. Once they understand that you can't drive, but are a good person to hang with, riding along shouldn't be an issue.

Hope this helps.
Ron, KS

Hi Chris,

I have no had to deal with the dating game after having brain surgery as I have been in a serious relationship for 4 years, however I can maybe give you some advice on how to deal with the dating game after major brain surgery.

I personally have never been a big drinker but would often go out with friends and just have water or soda at a bar even if I wasn't the DD. As a female, i would be impressed if I went to a bar and met guy who wasn't drinking to be honest. You could also try out other activities besides bars/clubs to meet people. If you are into physical fitness maybe look into joining a cycling or running group where you can get in some good physically activity post-op and meet some people as well. You could also try online dating if you want to stay away from the bar scene. I met my man online and couldn't be happier. He stuck with me through a brain bleed that left me with a ventric tube sticking out of my head for a week, brain surgery to repair an aneurysm and has helped me with the emotional aspects of everything i went through.

As for telling potential dates about your brain surgery, I wouldn't bring it up as the first topic of conversation (ie: Don't say hey my name is Chris and I just had brain surgery) but I would let it come out at one point. Try to be light and funny about it. I am finding that bringing humor into my situation has helped me cope and deal with what happened. I had my head shaved when they put the ventric in and being a female it is strange to have a shaved head. A lot of it has grown back in now and is in a nice short pixie cut so when I get people commenting on how cute it looks i say thank you and tell them that this is the kind of haircut you get when you let your neurosurgeon cut your hair. It has often broken the ice with total strangers and allowed me to talk candidly with them about my situation. Most people that are worth your time will not be turned off by it and will probably admire you for what you have gone through.

If a girl is going to reject you because you had to have brain surgery then she isn't worth your time and effort.

Hope that helps somewhat as I know how frustrating the dating game can be without having gone through something like neurosurgery recently!

Hi Chris,

My, my, my... I'm guessing that you are a lot younger than what I am (I'm 50). :) I found out about my avm over 20 years ago (with a 50/50 chance of it bleeding) and I didn't have it treated until 5 years ago. I still have two small ones left.
Now to answer your question. I still dated but, is what I did was. I waited until the relationship started to get seriouse and then I told them. When I couldn't drink any more, which I never was much of a drinker any way. I would still go to the bars on occasion but, I drank soda or coffee. It's also a good "test" to see if your date realy likes you. Or..... if they just went out with you for something to do. There are plenty of other things you can do, rather than taking her to the bar. Movies, dinner, dinner at your house, walks in a park, go to a festival or a play, etc....
I'm happy for you that you are doing so well. Just remember your limitations and, go and have fun!


no2 - when dating, i didnt say anything about my stroke, or bleed, or even my aphasia. I can get pass it, on a good day if i really, really try hard, so i just dont say anything. People who do understand AVM - which isnt that many, only doctors, patients or family members know about it. People dont know what to say, so its not worth it.

But, say on the third date, you are getting on well, then its time to make a mention about it.
When i dated my wife, i did the same thing - she was intrigued tho! Because she is indeed a doctor lol

Hi Chris - I started on this venture and wussed-out. I’m glad you brought it up -it dropped to the bottom of my “to-do list”…that sounds romantic. :slight_smile:

So first realize you are not the first to wonder how to approach it! There are lots of men and women who date who have serious medical conditions of every kind imaginable. I once dated someone who told me about his medical issue around date three. We had a candid discussion about what he went through and how it continued to impact him. It allowed me to get to know him on another level. Second be a guy a woman wants to date and the rest will be easy. If you're looking for a long term relationship you'll want to know she'll stick around no matter what happened to you in the past.

About the drinking thing - I don't drink, it makes me fat. I also take keppra and can be very impatient. Don't worry about not drinking, bars aren't the best place to meet people, Ron and Ben have good advice. I have never gone out looking and have met my dates through chance. Keep you life full with the things you enjoy and can manage doing and you may meet someone that way. Your avm experience is only part of who you are.

Good luck

To be honest its really hard to get back to “normal” but it will happen! Had surgery in August 2011!!! I thought the same way with dating if someone would look down on me! Now I just tell people it’s a great conversation starter of course not something you wanna open with but work your way up to it! AVMs are rare and nobody where I’m from knew about them until me! You’d be surprised how interested people will be to know and remember its not something to be ashamed of as we are SURVIVORS!!! As far as the drinking I to was on Keppra 2000mg A DAY! I still went out and drink with friend just limited myself! When you get comfortable with the surgery and everything starts going back to normal I found it funny to let people feel the metal plates in my head and see their faces!! :slight_smile: Keep your head up and everything will fall into place soon! You’ll see your situation as a blessing instead of an obstacle!


You are a good-looking man from your profile pic. The main theme I see here is that it is not you and your circumstances that are the problem (I agree that any woman who is turned off by it is not worth your time), but how you look for it. Specifically, while at one time it may have been the place to go, bars may not be the ideal place for you (especially with the no-drinking thing). In talking to people in love (and long-term relationships), they seem to find their other halves by doing the things they love and running into others who love it too. I can not speak for you about what you love, but I'd definitely start there. It's amazing what you find when you don't seem to be looking for it. Like Dancermom said, best of luck to you!


I agree with what Suzy E just said. She's right. Of all the girls I ever dated. I only ever met one of them in a bar but, we already knew each other. We actually went to school together. All of the girls I met, either friends introduced us or I met them while I was doing something else. I met one at gym once, another one I kept running into her at the grocery store and I eventually asked her out. And I met one at work.
The lasting relationships I had - It was friends of ours who introduced us.


Hi Chris,
Well, I am trying to date now and I just don't have much luck, but I didn't have much luck before either, so not much has changed. Except that I try not to drink as much and try not to drive after it gets dark. Which has really killed my social life!

Like the others, I would suggest trying to find a hobby that you like doing and try to find people through that avenue. Have you tried You might find a group of people with similar interests and meet new people that way instead of the tired old bar scene. It may be slow going, but hopefully there are people out there who will take the time to get to know you.

I know what you mean about others thinking that you are NOW screwed up, when in reality we were screwed up and short circuited BEFORE this whole thing! The last 5 years before my AVM ruptured, I had been increasingly feeling like I was flying out of control and just not who I wanted to be as a person and I couldn't figure it out, I just always felt like I was just shot out of a slingshot and veering wildly out of control. My memory was horrible and getting worse over time, I thought I was just lazy, and I thought that was all just normal. But it wasn't. So now I feel like I was a stranger before this all happened and now I'm finally on track to be the person I wanted to be, yet the people in my life know me from when I was "messed up".

So look at entering the dating scene now as a chance to start off with a fresh slate and a person can get to know the real you, version 2.0, slightly different, slightly worn around the edges, but slightly better in many ways.

Thanks for the suggestion Nicole. I had used in the past, but there weren't very many active groups in my area at the time. It seems to have improved since then, but now I'm stuck without a license, and rides are hard to come by. Plus, if you hate inconveniencing other people like I do, asking for rides all the time can be a real pain.

I'd like it if my town could just borrow the L from downtown Chicago, or borrow the weather from Miami. Getting around in the midwest without a car, to put it bluntly, sucks.

its not how i start any conversation. Wait till you know someone and theyre your good friends before you drop a bomb on them

Yay, telling someone you had brain surgery right off the bat, well it usually goes badly (picturing someone running away screaming). But hey, bombs are good to drop if you really don't like someone. Sorry, being divorced and single almost makes me a hypocrite giving relationship advice. I can dish it out, but I'm usually the last to follow my own advice. ;J