Surviving Three Brain Bleeds

In August 1988, I was a regular teenager, who loved sports, had a good job, a steady girlfriend and was a disc jockey for a popular nightclub on Long Island. Over the years I had a few colds but was never hospitalized or even ran a high temperature. I took good care of myself eating right and working out in a gym five days a week.

One day after an intense tennis match with my girlfriend, I developed a bad headache. I went home and right to bed. My mother called the family doctor, who recommended we come in and see him right away. After our appointment, he felt I was developing a bad case of the flu and recommended liquids and sleep. During the night my mom noticed my right side was in an awkward position and my speech was unrecognizable. Against my father’s and the doctor’s advice, she called 911 and an ambulance was dispatched.

The paramedics immediately realized they were dealing with a serious brain injury. After arriving at the hospital, I had an MRI, a CT scan and an angiogram; all showed I had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that was bleeding. I remember feeling helpless, disappointed and frustrated. After a few weeks in the hospital I was transferred to Rusk Rehabilitation at New York University Langone Medical Center. Soon after starting there, my doctor suffered a similar stroke and passed away.

I continued my therapy and was left with minor disabilities and bad memories of what happened. I was advised to no longer work out or be around loud music. So I returned to college and got a bachelor’s degree in business. Over the next 20 years, I landed a good job with a medical manufacturer, got married and had two healthy children.

Then one day in early August 2009, I had another bad headache and knew something was terribly wrong. I was rushed to the hospital only to find the AVM was bleeding again. I spent weeks in the hospital, then weeks in rehabilitation. But this time I was older and left with some permanent disabilities. I flew out to Arizona and underwent successful brain surgery to prevent future bleeds.

Unfortunately, a few years later, I had a third brain bleed as another artery in my brain started bleeding. I survived three brain bleeds. I walk unassisted, but with a limp and my right arm is useless. Due to a weak muscle in my left eye, my eyeball is no longer centered. But I never quit fighting, and all things considered, things could be a lot worse.

My story was published in a book called A Bleeding Brain. Then recently a movie writer converted my book into a 125-page script. I hope my story can inspire people and let others with medical hardships realize they are not alone.

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