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Drain Bamage...
Started by Billie Wooldridge 1 year ago
My name is Billie , I’m 38 years old and have survived multiple brain injuries and surgeries. I am tired .
My story is long and I often feel as if I’m boring others’ with my woes.
I hate that I am trapped in this body, with this mind that seems to run on magic.
My story is as follows and is not yet over.
I struggle to remember why…

From a very young age I can remember headaches, terrible nauseating ones. The first real migraine I can remember was at the age of 4. My parents had high school educations, we were poor and health insurance was not really the greatest. I was a happy kid though, we had enough.
When I was 10 years old my siblings and I were playing in the backyard, we were wrestling. My sister did a perfect dive and landed on the back of my head, I remember this strange feeling of vibration no pain. We played as normal and went to bed that night. As I lay there my left arm picked up of its own accord and grabbed my right shoulder. You have to imagine this was very shocking for a kid; I rolled off of my bed and onto the floor, where my Mama found me. I was already completely paralyzed on my left side. I can remember my Dad praying as he attempted to push start our truck, it had some issues.
My parents got me to the local hospital. I remember voices and some horrible orange drink, then nothing.
I woke up almost one month later, terribly thirsty and scared. I looked to my right and saw a cup, I tried to get to it. That is the very moment I realized I couldn’t move. It didn’t seem real, a nurse confirmed it was. I was completely paralyzed on my left side. I didn’t understand. I soon learned what they all knew.
A blood clot had ruptured on my brain. That blood clot was a direct result of a condition called AVM (there are several sites that discuss the topic if you are interested, I recommend http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-...)
I spent months in a wheelchair and in therapy. I was saddled with a left-sided defect and pretty low self-esteem, but I was alive. My Dad always said it was for some “Greater purpose.” We shall see Pop. We shall see.
After learning to walk and talk again, life could have and should of been cake. But, life, it is what you make it.
I spent my teens fighting one person or cause. I was kind of this weak wanna-be warrior. What I wanted, I did. Consequences be dammed! I suffered blackouts, but kept silent.
I have always been the champion of the underdog, I had to be.
Only my role as champion was mostly silent and covert tactics…mostly.
I often landed in trouble.
That is what your teenage years are for. I walked with a limp, I had a lisp, freckles and ginger hair but I also had wee little feelings. I always did. They thought I was dramatic, that’s what I have always been told. I spent my teenage years feeling apart from most people, sometimes missing minutes, even days in my head; waking up places and not knowing how I got there. I couldn’t tell anyone. When I tried I was dismissed. “Billie is dramatic.” My family loved me, if they had ANY real education or resources things could have been different. They would have known about my brain injury and my epilepsy then. My parents did the best they could with the resources they had.
I grew up, I married a great boy, Jason, and had one child.
I’m one of those Mother’s that can actually say she almost died having her child. Boy, he is worth it. He is my Sun.
I started having tonic-colonic seizures when I was 8 months pregnant, they were terrifying. If I’m not getting oxygen, my baby isn’t either. For 20 minutes after I awoke from my first tonic-colonic or grand-Mal seizure, they couldn’t find Noah’s heartbeat. Up until that moment I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a mother. I was 19 and had spent most of my life running and serving myself. Hearing his heart beating strong changed my mind forever.
I was told I didn’t have epilepsy but a seizure disorder. I was never referred to any neurologists but multiple ER physicians prescribed anticonvulsant medications. I declined them. Why would an otherwise healthy woman take a poisonous drug for a condition she doesn’t have?
That didn’t make much sense to me either, so I didn’t. I continued to raise my son, my husband and myself. I didn’t do great. The “blackouts” still happened and telling people at this juncture seemed pointless. I’d had grand-Mal seizures on and off my whole life. That is what we were all used to. Any other episode was, just that, some weird episode, in which I seemed confused and irritated. Shit happens.
My marriage deteriorated, but not our friendship. Jason was everything I needed when I needed him. He suffered my bull and I suffered his. We both deserved a shot at happiness elsewhere.
Enter my dwarf, my champion, my Jeff. He was my friend for years and had been diagnosed with Testicular Cancer at the age of 27. I not so secretly had a crush on him from the day I met him. He was my cabdriver and my little brothers’ friend.
He was also a jerk, kind of perfect for me.
In January of 2013 I was in a car accident.
I know, I shouldn’t have been driving. A girl must do what she must. I made poor choices and ended up with two broken ankles AND an un-diagnosed DAVF. (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/neur...)

I spent the next 3 years in a mind of extreme chaos, my own. Neglect from the local medical facilities was criminal. I presented myself to the local ER several times to be sent away with little help and no referrals. I used to work for the hospital, damn hard. I gave them the remainder of my strength. This place that was now turning me away to die, was once a place I took pride in working for. I still feel pride and there are many excellent doctors and medical staff there. There is however, one who deserves a little blast, just a little acknowledgement. Dr. Schwabe.
On September 5th, 2016, I was at an exercise class. I wasn’t doing anything to strenuous, I felt weak and tired. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, what happened afterwards is a blur. I remember sitting down to relieve myself when this shooting throbbing pain radiated from the top of my head to my spine.
Like a hose un-kinked, which is exactly what I told the doctor. My family had given the emergency room the impression that I had a seizure. I knew I hadn’t. My boyfriend had told the nurse I had taken a Tramadol. I had a prescription, I took one after the bathroom episode. I took it because it alleviated some of my family members worry. They had read that stopping taking Tramadol can cause seizures, so I acquiesced and took one. I had previously weaned off of ALL pharmaceutical medications. My admitting taking a narcotic changed the rooms overall vibe. My boyfriend stating this fact quickly changed the nurse’s opinion of me, it was palpable. The doctor had a head CT ordered and done. My brain is very scarred and MRI imagining is needed to see the intricate workings of my vein work.
I told the doctor and the nurse this. The doctor felt one was not necessary.
After my family was assured I was fine they left to get the car. I was left with a doctor who no longer believed, if he ever did, he had a physically ill patient.
This man of medicine waited until we were alone to tell me he didn’t think I had a seizure.
I was excited. I thought that someone was finally going to listen. I know the difference between my grand-Mal seizures and my different types of “episodes“. This was none of those.
My excitement turned to dismay and humiliation. As soon as the curtain was closed he informed me that he believed I was a drug addict, faking seizures.
Where he got this idea from, I have no idea. Doctors do become jaded. With what my family had stated, I was stating, AND my extensive medical history with seizures and head injury; I was shocked. I didn’t quite understand at first but soon accepted what he was saying. He mocked me and stated, “I would refer you to a neurologist, but…” he trailed off there. I started crying, to this he responded with a shrug and a callous stare. He then made me apologize for wasting his time, before he would discharge me. I went home and gave up.
I did nothing for a week but fear the toilet and another episode and cry from my bed. My dear cousin Johnny and my boyfriend were unwilling to let me suffer any longer. They both knew me, they knew I was no drug seeking hypochondriac. Johnny encouraged me to call the clinic he uses for a follow-up. I have never been more thankful to any cousin in my life.
There was a physicians assistant Chris working who saved my life. He took the time to listen to me and all of my symptoms. He ran tests, scheduled follow-ups and got me my MRI. What was found on those imaging sheets still shocks me. I had an AVM.
My parents and myself were told that those do not grow back and they had gotten it all. They had almost gotten it all, I had residual. When I was in the car accident in 2013 and the as of then un-diagnosed DAVF formed, it began to fuse with the residual AVM. This was just the oxygen rich source my little hanger-on has been craving.
Over almost 3 years they fused together. Weakening my vessels, taking oxygen rich blood from other organs, causing damage. Towards the end of my little leaches reign, my systems started to be affected. Infections all the time. My spine had even started moving completely to the left side of my body. The AVM Monster was attempting to connect with my spine. What sort of crazy Cthulhu is this?
Strange diagnosis that made no sense, blanket treatments. I was weak and tired and ready to die by this point. No one knew, not really.
I had to wait over a month for an appointment with a neurosurgeon. I lived in total fear. I was afraid to move, go to the bathroom, do anything really. I met with the surgeon, Dr. Lawten, he was top in his field, the head even. He assured me he would have me fixed and happy in no time. Again, it was another wait. My surgery was scheduled for October 27, 2016. I had back to back surgeries scheduled. One procedure was done through my groin, a tube was inserted and several aneurysms were glued for the craniotomy and AVM removal the next day. I was informed that without this procedure I would more than likely bleed to death before removal could happen. So, yeah, let’s do this!
I woke up from surgery feeling relieved to be alive. I couldn’t wait to feel again. The doctor had assured me not only had he successfully removed my AVM, but I would now be fully recoverable. Someday, with therapy I could have back my long lost left side coordination. That is simply not to be.
For reasons unknown to me, or any medical professional I have spoken to about this; after my craniotomy there was no drainage tube placed. Nothing to draw the excess fluid from my brain. As a result, over two weeks after my surgery, I developed an acute subdural hematoma.
I had no pain. No real warning other than the fluid that shot from the top of my head when I sat up. The pressure had finally become too much. I presented to the local hospital after a 30 minute phone call with the on call doctor for my surgeons office. The local facility was ill equipped and at least had the good sense to say it outright. I was sent back to the big city and my “saviors.” When I got to my room the on call doctor shook my hand and thanked me for saving my own life.
I had to have another brain surgery, this time a Bur hole procedure was needed. I had far too much fluid on my brain and it had pushed my brain as far to the right as it could. The section pushed against my skull had died. It had to be removed. I now have some screws and a plate. My left side is weaker, my seizures are worse, and my quality of life is not as promised.
I’m currently working on trying to stay positive, to not play the role of victim. It’s hard sometimes. I have conditions caused by conditions. I have suffered neglect at the hands of medical professionals, my family and myself.
I, with the help of those who truly care, saved my life. It is a struggle and I fail to see my purpose sometimes, but dammit! I’m here!
I’m not giving up on me. How can I when so many people still care that I’m in this crazy world.
If you made it all the way through this and found some peace, I’m thankful.
You’re not alone. Everyone has a story.
I love you Stranger.

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