First, a Survivor. Now, a Writer.
On March 30, 2015, my life made a drastic change.
In November of 2014, doctors diagnosed me with Arteriovenous Malformation, also known as an AVM, in my brain. Upon diagnosis, we saw two different doctors to find the best treatment for it. We finally settled on a doctor who would do an open-brain surgery to remove the AVM. This specific doctor did not accept our insurance but submitted a letter to the insurance company so the surgery could be approved. Once done, it was just waiting for the go-ahead.
While waiting for approval, the day after my husband and my seventh wedding anniversary on March 30, 2015, it ruptured. I don’t remember it happening, but I can tell you life would never be the same.
As a wife and mother of two beautiful girls (Alyssa, five, and Gia, almost three), I soon realized more about the new me upon waking up from surgery.
I soon learned I could no longer read. I could not recognize my letters or numbers. My vision blurred, and I lost my ability to see on the right side of peripheral vision in both eyes. I can only see what is directly in front of me now. Recognizing and naming objects as simple as a comb were no longer things I could do.
Remarkably, I could still write.
Anxiety crept in, and I quickly had to learn to live with something I never understood. Loud noises and even something as soft as a dripping sink faucet became piercing to my head. I feared holding a conversation because I might lose my words. Remembering how to use a stove, microwave and even finding my essential household appliances were a struggle.
Today, I still cannot read. I always mess up my letters and numbers. Forgetting how to use and find specific items comes and goes. I have no control over it. To some extent, the anxiety of this diagnosis will always be there.
A year after my surgery, I started suffering from seizures. Now that I must take medication to control them, I avoided taking any more medicine. I currently use all-natural essential oils to help me get through it.
Life with my daughters is not the same. They have seen and had to endure a lot at young ages. Alyssa, being the older one, sees the difference most. She remembers what I could once do. Reading together was something we used to do often together.
Gia doesn’t remember much. In fact, she has no memory of my ever being able to read. One day, while reminiscing, Alyssa said to me, “Mommy, do you remember when we used to read all the time?” and I replied, “Yes, I do, baby.” Then, Gia turned to me with shock and said, “Mommy, you can read?” At that moment, my heart sank, and tears erupted instantly. My daughter would never know her mother ever reading to her.
How many other survivors struggle with this?
Like a part of you has died, these feelings of being broken or lost are hard to understand. I often battle with loneliness and fear that I cannot provide for my children the way I use to. I find comfort through support groups. My husband does too. All of his support and loving contributions after my diagnosis have taken a toll on him. Having the support from a place I fit in, making connections to know I’m not alone provide a safe space for me, mentally.
I want to help as many people and families as I can by sharing my journey with an AVM, and accomplish something that I could call my own.
I always loved to write. It was my safety net as I grew up. After my AVM, it was vital for me to share my story. However, discovering how to get my writing out there was like hitting a wall.
Where would I start? How could I do this?
My organizing skills are not stable anymore. My husband is wonderful but has so many other worries to focus his time on. I know he would have no problem helping me but I feel asking for his help would be just another thing added to his plate.
I thought it would never happen.
Until one day, my friend was listening to me vent about wanting to have more independence and do things on my own. I wanted to write a book about my journey, but I had no leaning post. She instantly made a call to her friend Christine, the owner of Our Galaxy Publishing. Within minutes, she said she would help make this venture possible with me for this book to happen.
The next thing I knew, after a zoom meeting with her and my husband: BAM! The contract was signed, and I am now confidently working on the first draft of my memoir, Mommy, You Can Read?
There is a lot of work to be done, but in this process- I found me. I found purpose and a reason for it all. I finally feel whole again because I am going to be a published author.
Follow Christine’s writing journey on Instagram.