This was the first park that I came to after I had my surgery, and I think it’s funny to be back here now sharing my story because this is the first time I walked after my surgery, and I started my therapy here, so I think it’s just interesting that I’m back here now and I’m able to share my story
So in February of this year, I was at a friend’s house, and I remembered, um, waking up that morning; everything was normal. Everything was a normal day. Then I remembered all of a sudden I had a really bad headache. I started to feel sick. It got worse. It was probably the worst headache I think I’ve ever had in my life. As I started to feel sick, I realized that when I went to go get up, I couldn’t walk, and I realized my legs weren’t working.
I didn’t understand why I just remember being really confused, and at the time, I didn’t understand what was happening. I was trying to talk, and I was trying to say things, and I don’t believe they were coming out the way that I was trying to say them. I just remember asking for help, and I remember asking my friend who was there with me at the time. I think I remember begging, please don’t let me die or saying something like, I don’t want to die. I remember saying I don’t want to die, and after that, everything kind of got kind of foggy.
Paramedics, I remember hearing paramedic’s voices. I don’t remember seeing things, um, I just remember hearing voices and people talking around me and people, I guess, working on me or working to get me to the hospital. It just, it was all very blurry, so there’s a lot of pieces of that puzzle that I didn’t get until after the fact. I remember just a lot of loud noises around me, and later I remember actually hearing that helicopter um I later found out that I was transported from one hospital in Virginia beach to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. They brought me there to help save my life. After my AVM rupture, I was airlifted to Norfolk Sentara General Hospital, and they had to put a drain in my head to relieve pressure prior to me having the surgery to remove the AVM. So they basically have to drill a hole into your skull and put a drain in to let the fluids out so that they could perform the surgery.
After about four days, four days later, they did the surgery, and it’s a craniotomy where they remove a piece of your skull to do the surgery, and then that bone flap is then, put it back. I remember at that point, um, not very much. I didn’t really remember anything other than waking up. After I woke up from surgery, I remember the doctors coming in and explaining what happened. That I had the AVM that ruptured, and an AVM is the tangle of blood vessels in your brain that you’re born with. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it, to stop it.
It was something that was already predestined to happen. Um, it’s a genetic disorder. After surgery, I was in the hospital for about two weeks to recover, and during that time, I had intense therapy just to try to help me learn how to walk again, how to move around, how to talk, how to do everything all over again. Before my AVM rupture, I was predominantly right-handed and had done everything with my right side with an AVM rupture of this sort, it basically caused a stroke, and that caused weakness in my right side. So being that I’m right-handed, I had to learn how to do everything with my left and to build up a lot of strength in my left side. My brain just naturally reverted to doing things with my left side. My brain bleed was on the left, so it affected my right side functions.
Even to this day, my right side is a little bit slower, a little bit weaker than my left, but I’m here. My experience reveals that we are not out here by ourselves. We’re not here to do things by ourselves. We’re not here to do things on our own. We need people. We need each other. We need our family. We need our friends, and we need to let things go. It definitely reveals that in life being short, we need to cherish the people around us. We need to forget the small things. Let the small things go and enjoy the moment. I really want to help other people who have been through this. It is a very isolating, and it can be a very lonely experience and recovery. Because not a lot of people go through it, and it’s a very rare thing, so when you realize that you’ve been through it, you feel like you’re by yourself.
And I think it helps to know that there are people out there just like you that have gone through it or are going through it or are getting ready to go through it. And they need someone that they can relate to. Do not give up hope. Do not give up faith. There is nothing more humbling than being reduced to having to let other people do even the most basic things for you, but in that, it definitely gives me a lot of respect. And it gives me a lot of faith, and it gives me a lot of hope that things can be better. You just have to keep hoping, and you just have to keep your faith, and you just have to keep trying.
My Disentanglement: An AVM Survivor’s Story
At age 35, Minda found out she had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) on the left side of her brain that ruptured on February 17th, 2020. She suffered frontoparietal intraparenchymal hemorrhaging (a stroke) due to the ruptured AVM and aneurysm.Her neurosurgeon successfully removed the AVM following a pre-op endovascular embolization in a left parietal resection surgery. Since losing her ability to walk and speak and undergoing a craniotomy, she’s received extensive physical and occupational therapy. After a total of three cerebral angiogram procedures, she has since been able to resume most of her normal physical activities.Minda has fully regained her abilities with slight deficits in balance and vision. She is primarily headache-free with medication at two years post-op. In sharing her story with the world via her book, “My Disentanglement: An AVM Survivor’s Story,”Minda seeks to raise awareness for AVM/aneurysm patients, survivors, and their families. As a wife and mother of three (including boy/girl twins), she is excited to share her faith in God and how this experience has motivated her to help others, even during her own recovery. After receiving her associate’s from Southern New Hampshire University, she is pursuing her BS in Public Health. Minda also increases awareness for AVM and stroke survivors through her advocacy to congressional members and her participation as an ambassador for The Bee Foundation.