Life after a life-threatening illness

Life’s unpredictability scares me.

You can be on the brink of death no matter how young or well you think you are. One moment you can have fun with your friends, the next thing you’ll realize you’re almost six feet below the ground.

It makes me cherish each moment for “tomorrow is never promised”.

Last week, my friend invited me to watch the movie Brain on Fire. The story is about a well-known author who suddenly fell ill while she’s on top of her career path. She was diagnosed with a rare form of encephalitis or an abnormal inflammation of the brain which affected her mood and body function.

It was like déjà vu for me! All she experienced: the numbness of her right arm, the sudden and severe headaches, and seizures; I remember going through all of it. Although my case was different, we had the same sentiment– we were both young when a rare illness greeted us. How can an active person suddenly get sick in one blink of an eye? How can a young girl overcome this kind of situation?

After several tests, I was diagnosed with brain AVM. “A brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain. An arteriovenous malformation can develop anywhere in your body but occurs most often in the brain or spine. Even so, brain AVMs are rare and affect less than 1 percent of the population. Some people with brain AVMs experience signs and symptoms, such as headache or seizures. AVMs are commonly found after a brain scan for another health issue or after the blood vessels rupture and cause bleeding in the brain (hemorrhage).”  -Mayo Clinic

I always felt sudden headaches but it never occurred to me that it will lead to brain hemorrhage several years after. I could still remember going home after school when I was still 14 years old ten years ago. I suddenly felt dizzy, I tried walking some more but my surrounding was really blurry. So I run until I reached my room. No one’s around that time. I was all alone. I tried screaming for help but the intense pain was unbearable. I couldn’t remember how I passed out or what happened next. They later shared with me that they saw me unconscious and with vomit on the floor.

After several tests, I was diagnosed with brain AVM. They need to reduce the bleeding in my brain before it spread and damage my brain permanently. They told my dad the bad news, there’s a great possibility that I will fall into a coma and I will no longer recover completely after the stroke.

My mother was also going through a rough time because her father just died and she heard the news about me while they were currently at my grandfather’s wake. My entire family was extremely shocked because of my condition.

God, why?

People think I’d ask that question after enduring all the hospital drama. But right after I woke up, all I could ever think was, “Where’s my mom?” Yes. Even back then, I showed courage and believed that I could overcome my situation if they would just let me see my mom. Good enough, she was with me several days after! *MOMS ARE THE BEST!*

You know what happened next? Through a lot of prayer from relatives, churchmates, friends, and others (when I say a lot, it’s really a LOT!) I was able to recover completely without falling into a coma and other major side effects! It’s a miracle! I’ve read many articles about brain AVM after that and I’d say it really is a life-threatening illness! People who have it only have a small chance of surviving it, especially if they detect the illness after the artery-vein rupture.

Fast forward ten years.

A lot has happened:

Graduated high school.

College.

Endured Journalism training.

Graduated College- Magna Cum Laude.

 

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Worked at GMA Network.

2 years of love-hate relationship with my job. #ILoveMyJob

Quit work.

Tried online work.

.

.

.

And here I am; now at 24, still trying to figure out what to do with my life. I have to admit; I totally forgot that I once endured a life-threatening illness. Everything seems normal again.

Or so I thought. 

There’s still fear inside me. I’m still a time bomb. No one knows what will happen in the years to come. Thank God I have this assurance that He will never let me down. If He let me survive the past ten years, it’s a way of reminding me that my life is in His hands.

If you’re in the same situation, let me remind you that you’re not alone in your journey.Wait and see how exciting and fun your years will unfold and see how far you’ve gone. Take all the lessons life will throw at you!

Perfection is never the key to strive in life. It’s okay to make mistakes. Pursue your dreams even if you stumble and fall a few times. Cry over a heartbreak. Learn how to live life the right way. Travel. Don’t let anybody bring you down “just because” of your past. Let them see you sparkle because you ARE somebody.

AND YES. There’s life after your tragic past.

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