Ten days ago we were getting ready to go out to eat, like we do on most Friday evenings, when I experienced a major migraine headache. I have them from time to time, and have always blamed them on allergies. But this one was worse than usual.
My wife drove to the restaurant and I kicked back, assuming things would get better after a few minutes. But, I couldn’t read the menu. Words looked the same and foreign at the same time. I felt nauseous and dizzy. Finally, my wife talked me into going to the emergency room. That may have saved my life.
After a quick CAT scan, they transferred me to an ICU unit of Emory Hospital in Atlanta where I was diagnosed as having a brain AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation - basically a fairly large clump – about 3cm - of veins and blood vessels in the front-left part of my brain). (See the white area at the top of the photo). I've had it since before birth. In 50% of the cases, AVMs are found when the blood vessels burst. Mine hasn't done that, yet. AVMs are fairly rare – about 1% of the population has them and about half of those go unnoticed throughout the victim’s lifetime. Catching them sooner than later can be very helpful.
I am scheduled to return to Emory on April 1 (yeah, I know, April Fools Day) for an angiogram, during which they will shoot "glue" into the veins to dry them up. On April 3, they plan to perform a craniotomy, in which they will open my skull and remove as much of the AVM as they can.
Yes, it is brain surgery.
There is no way to know what the eventual outcome will be. We hope to prevent something worse, like a stroke, coma or death. And, I have several things going for me:
If you are interested in following my story and encouraging me, please check out my page on CaringBridge.org (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/bensharpton). Know that I appreciate your prayerful support as I work through this thing.
I’ll try to keep you informed as to my progress, but will also try not to bore you with a bunch of boring junk.
I intend to keep writing as much as I can. In fact, I’m working on a short story related to my experience right now.
Let me know if you’ve had any experience with AVMs or if you know anyone who has. Just click on the “Add Comment” link below (or comment on my CaringBridge site).