I am so grateful for my life everyday
In 2002, when I was in my mid-20s, I had the worst headache of my life—a headache that caused vomit, loss of vision, and I blacked out. The source of the problem was a tangle of blood vessels in my brain, known as an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). My AVM started bleeding—a life-threatening emergency. Quick stabilization and surgery by Co-Director of Neuroendovascular Services Dr. Sean Lavine and Vice-Chairman of Neurosurgery Dr. E. Sander Connolly at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital saved my life. Today, it’s been 16 eventful years since the surgery. I'm now a mom, wife and teacher’s assistant at an elementary school. I'm doing great, and I have two neurosurgeons to thank for it. If it wasn’t for Dr. Lavine and Dr. Connolly, I wouldn’t be here.
Life after My AVM started bleeding
Every day, what happened to me pops into my mind. But I just push along with my day. The bleeding from the AVM left me with a tremor in my right hand and some short-term memory loss, but that doesn’t hold me back. It doesn’t stop me from living my life. I look at it like: I’m so grateful to wake up every day, put my two feet on the ground and live a normal life. I’m definitely more grateful for life now.
Reconnecting with the surgeons who saved my life
Recently, my daughter and I had a chance to stop by and say hello to Dr. Lavine. I've kept in touch with my surgeons over the years, but this was the first time I had seen Dr. Lavine in a decade and a half, and my 13-year-old daughter had never met either of my neurosurgeons.
"you don’t always realize how much of an impact you have on somebody’s life"
My daughter, Victoria, finally meeting Dr. Lavine was great because she’s heard so much about him for so long. That was really special to me. Afterward, I sent him an email thanking him for his time and saying how special it was for Victoria to meet him. He sent back a nice email that said, basically, you don’t always realize how much of an impact you have on somebody’s life. And he said, ‘Thank you for reminding me of that.’ There will never be enough thank-you’s for that man.” I'm hoping one day to bring my daughter into Manhattan to visit my other surgeon, Dr. Connolly. I'm hoping to go up to Columbia around Christmas time to see him because the city is so beautiful then. I've been to the Columbia campus since my last follow-up appointment before Victoria was even born. I hope my story will be helpful to other people and families going through what can be a difficult and frightening time. I’d like them to know that there is hope after an emergency like mine—that, in fact, wonderful years full of gratitude is possible. If there’s somebody who is going through what I went through, I hope they or their family happen to go on the Columbia website and read my story. I mean, if I can give somebody and their family hope, that’s all I want to do.