Seizure Out of the Blue

My name is Rachel L. Middleton and I am an AVM survivor. I am 21 years old and very athletic--soccer is my life. I was always a healthy kid never had any problems health wise until May of 1999 when I experienced a seizure out of the blue. Thankfully I was not driving while it occurred. I was out with a friend, and it happened while we were sitting in his car. Later I went to the hospital to get it checked out. They took a catscan and found an abnormality on my left side of my brain so they referred me to a neurologist. An MRI showed I had an AVM on my left parietal lobe about 4 x 4 cm big.

I never heard of an AVM before so I went home and did some research and found this narrative page which really helped me through my ordeal. I was referred to a neurosurgeon in Loma Linda, California--one of the best hospitals in the country in my opinion. My neurosurgeon was very nice and gifted. His name was Dr. Colohan. I had to take a angiogram so he could see the precise location of the AVM and determine the best way to remove it.

Thankfully mine was located on the surface and not buried in the brain. He recommended brain surgery. At first I thought, "Oh no, brain surgery!" I never had any kind of surgery, the worst thing I ever had to endure was wearing a brace on my leg because I tore some ligaments from playing soccer. I was shocked, but I decided to go for it. I was told I couldn't play soccer, work, workout, or even drive, so I desperately wanted my life back

In July I had brain surgery. It took 17 hours and I lost six pints of blood (which is a lot) but they were able to successfully remove the AVM. During the surgery I had a stroke, so when they woke me up a few days later I was not able to move my right side. I was scared. I was right handed, but now I am both left and right handed. I had to learn how to do everything with my left while my right side was on vacation.

I went through extensive physical therapy as well as occupational and speech therapy. I was in rehabilitation at Loma Linda for about three weeks which seemed like a lifetime. Regardless, they were really great and the therapy worked. I think the hardest part was learning to walk again. Now, almost a year later I am back to playing soccer, driving, and doing practically everything I was doing before. My right side is functioning again, but it's not totally the same. I still have problems with the sensation on my arm and some movement with my foot, and I still can't move my toes. In any case, I can walk, talk, and think--and that's all that matters.

I took a follow-up angiogram a month ago and found that the AVM is completely gone. I am back to myself, and all I can do is try to give people hope. My wish is that this testimonial will help anyone who reads it. I want to thank God for being there with me. I am also thankful my family and friends were there for me--it really helped me through everything.

Thank you for reading my narrative. GOD BLESS!

--Rachel L. Middleton