Eleven years ago, yours truly was suffering badly from migraines, so the neurologists finally ordered an MRI of my head. (Folks had always said I needed my head examined)
Voila, they discovered I had a one-inch thick AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation) in the back of my brain, which had probably been growing there since birth. In a nutshell, an AVM is a grouping of tangled veins and arteries which, if bleeding occurred (like an aneurism) could cause death and/or permanent disability.
Doctors insisted I go for further tests and treatment. They said, the likelihood of bursting increases at a rate of three percent per year, and at this point I had just entered my 60s.
Very worrisome, indeed. Three options were: surgery, radiation or gamble doing nothing. I’ve always been a loser at gambling. I won’t even stop at a one-armed bandit in Vegas.
Suzanne and I traveled to Emory University in Atlanta, where the world’s top experts in AVM treatment and surgery were available. My surgeon said it was very serious, but to further pinpoint matters, he ordered a series of tests which involved scans, dyes, arteriograms, and much more.
While being prepped, with hospital gown and tubes hanging from my body, the doctor had me sign a stack of papers on a clipboard, all warning of a small chance that I could die or be reduced to a blithering idiot from the procedure, and there would be no one to sue.
As I started with the blue-ink ball-point pen, I hesitated with second thoughts. I summoned my wife, to talk. I told her, “I came here feeling really good. I’m going to leave here feeling really good.”
I said to the doc, “Give me my clothes, I’m walking out.” Startled, he said no one had ever done that before. “Well, there’s a first time for everything.” This time, I would gamble and take my chances. If I underwent the operation they could claim surgery a success, though I’d be reduced to a blithering mumbler, unable to talk or function normally.
It was certainly a risk. If I died, I figured would be a quick and painless event.
Five years later, in 2004, a follow-up MRI showed — amazingly — that the AVM had diminished in size.
Six years later, July 2010, I underwent another follow-up MRI.
The report indicates a very small residue present only visible through enhancement (dye). Now it’s difficult to even see where it was.
I don’t recommend this attitude for everyone, or anyone. Going against medical advice is risky. This is one time I decided to take my chances because I feared being disabled — and a burden to others — more than I feared death.
I don’t know why or how this AVM dissipated.
Neither do I care.
I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my life, but this was definitely not one of them.
Thought I’d share the story with others. Glean your own messages.