An AVM = Arteriovenous Malformation. An AVM can be anywhere inside the body, but in some cases they grow in the brain. An AVM is an abnormal tangle or cluster of blood vessels that usually cause no symptoms. If a person has symptoms, they are categorized as seizures, headaches, muscle weakness/numbness, migraines, vision loss, difficulty speaking, unsteadiness and/or confusion. AVMs occur in about 3 out of every 10,000 people according to brainfoundation.org.
The cause of an AVM is unknown, but researchers believe they are formed at birth.
In my case, I had chronic migraines with aura and random visual flashes, which I later learned were visual seizures. I had symptoms for a full year before I sought medical help. If it weren't for my symptoms, the doctors wouldn't have requested a brain scan.
My AVM was 19mm and was luckily near the surface of my brain, making surgery the best option.
Two days before the brain surgery, I had an embolization, a procedure where the doctors inserted a catheter at a site in my groin that led up through an artery to my brain. Here, they mapped out the AVM while clipping and glueing certain blood vessels. This would make the brain surgery go smoother. After the 14 hour surgery, I was in an induced four day coma to help with brain swelling.
My recovery lasted for a year and a half. I had a series of serious infections that put me in a very fragile state for awhile. With time and the right medical professionals, I did heal! My story was unique to any other, which is why I felt so isolated during my recovery. One of the main reasons I wrote the book, was to mentally heal from it all, but it's ended up helping a lot of people on their own medical journeys. Get all the details in my book!