Go Home And Good Luck
20 January 2005
My name is Dennis. I am 57 years old and have a large, inoperable AVM located between the speech and comprehension area of my brain.
I was fishing at a friend's cabin in northern Minnesota when I woke up with a terrible headache. Before driving home to Wisconsin, I talked my buddy into going out to the local café for breakfast. The next thing I knew it was three days later. I had a grand mal seizure in the café, the cops and ambulance were called and was brought me to a nearby hospital. I was then transferred by helicopter to a major hospital in the Twin Cities and spent those first three days in ICU.
Good thing I stopped to eat instead of driving home through those north woods when the seizure came on. I would have been bear bait. My only helicopter ride and I missed it. For those three days my loved ones waited in the waiting room for any kind of information on my status.This was June of 2000 and I was getting married the next month in July! My now wife, Vicki, really came through. She was with me every minute while I was hospitalized 10 days. I never felt so loved after the wedding.
The doctors diagnosed the AVM and said to basically, go home and good luck... but, I could see a neurologist for possible radiation but being the size and location, it wasn't with a lot of hope. Well, I received radiation with the hope of getting rid of the AVM in the next couple of years. That was five years ago and its only gone down 15-20% and is not expected to get any smaller.
The last five years have been a life of seizures, sometimes two a week, headaches, electric flashes in the brain, memory loss, and stroke symptoms. It took me a year to write my name again. Also, I experience depression, mood swings, ringing ears and enough medications to knock out a horse. I tell my friends I wake up just in time for my nap. Vicki (wifie) has been a saint putting up with me. The same luck that kept me from driving home that morning steered me towards her. Now, the doctors suggest, if my quality of life doesn't change in the next couple of months, we should try radiation again. We'll see.
Enough about my problems. At risk of sounding like a hypocrite, this note is not meant to be about symptoms, hardships, loss of loved ones and all the tragedies related to AVM victims. I would like to emphasize your strength and courage to share with all is a wonderful gift for everyone, with or without handicaps. I would like to express to all of you the hidden opportunity we all have to offer to others. We are the selected lucky ones who have a chance to display what real inner strength and courage is all about. When a person wakes up to start their day, chances of getting through it are as good as the next. However, how many people really appreciate this opportunity? We do! We've had the "eye opener" second chance to realize how vulnerable and fragile life can be. We've all given our life a lot of thought. Chances are that if we aren't physically healthier after our "eye-opening experience," we are more mentally healthy.
I'll try to use myself as a flimsy example. I started to stutter in grade school and still do. It was so embarrassing that I couldn't answer verbal questions, read or recite in front of class. This resulted in bad grades. I was called stupid for years. Eventually, after being called stupid so long, I was convinced I was stupid and developed a terrible inferiority complex. I asked a psychologist which caused which - the stuttering causing the complex or the complex causing the stuttering. He didn't know. My now neurologist said it is the AVM's location that has hindered my speech. Thank you AVM!! You have resolved a lot of my emotional problems.
We can help otherwise "healthy" people in our life with, as I said earlier, our courage, hope and inner strength to take on and live our new lifestyle. Our loved ones will recognize our resolve and can't help but follow our example to enhance their lives. What can a person want from life from knowing that he/she has enhanced someone else's life and have them pass it on to their loved ones?
I am not a "who-rah" type person. I served in Vietnam in '68-'69, was a single parent for ten years, had to retire early and have seen a lot of good and bad in life. However, the discovery of the AVM was a very traumatic experience for me, to say the least. Sometimes I relate life to a poker game. When the cards are falling good, make the most of them. When they are falling bad, keep your losses to a minimum. Don't forget as long as you have a chair and a chip, you are still in the game. I strongly encourage all victims to keep being strong, brave and offer hope to all. Our example will prevail. I sincerely hope all of you live a fulfilling, rewarding and loving life and pass your example on. Who said, "dance like no one's watching." Works with life, too.
Final Update. 15 March 2009. It has been brought to my attention that our friend and fellow Author, Dennis Kruger Passed away September 14, 2007 succumbing to the complications from an AVM bleed. Now that you're home May you Rest in Peace-Denny-Rest in Peace, Jim.Evie's Story: "Good Bye To My Dear Friend"
© Copyright 2004 Dennis Kruger