my name is Matt Ramsey; I was born in 1971, on July 4th. At the age of nine, I suffered my first stroke, compliments of an Arterio Venous Malformation in my brain. (Actually, I’ve been let know that my birthmark is the stigmata, left over from a first stroke I had in the womb.)
Thereafter, until May of 1987, I experienced several more cerebral hemorrhages and was able to bounce right back, following several weeks of crushing headaches, having to lie flat on my back until the hemorrhage site had coagulated, flaked away and had been dissolved into my spinal fluid.
The last stroke, however, was somewhat different than all the rest.
The day the last one happened, I remember being picked up at my high school, partway through the day and, somehow, innately knowing that the stroke I had just sustained was extremely different.
My final “inner-explosion” was even way more severe than the hemorrhage I experienced, having done a one and a half of the high dive at St. Mary’s College, in Southern Maryland…the one that, despite the massive pain, I managed to swim to the side of the pool, make my way up the ladder and walk all the way back to my dorm, before telling anyone what had happened.
The Monster: My last bleed, just happened. I can’t even recall anything about the day, prior to the near-fatal event. I don’t remember sophomore year homeroom that day or even what class I was in when my final stroke occurred. I do remember being picked up at the front of the school by my mother and walking, amid the customary post-hemorrhage, yet still-hemorrhaging, waves of misery:
intense nausea, to the point of nearly-dry heaving, the jolting of which would open up another successive, extended, radiating hogshead of whup-ass on my system.
The ensuing siff neck and massive, physical neck pain: nothing like the pain you waken to after having slept a little crooked…this pain can scarcely be described, other than to say that its kinda like being immersed in fire, as you are beaten severely to a bloody pulp.
The thing is, when you experience an AVM stroke, its a kind of double-edged sword, involving massive, crushing stimulus that makes any migraine headache seem like a mere speed bump amid the “AVM Stroke Himalayas”; however, if you weren’t born with a handy, dandy extra set of of vessels, the temporary loss of physical and cognitive faculties would be permanent or, at least, many, many times more permanently debilitating.
Instead of lying flat on my back for three to five weeks, taking greater and greater dosages of codeine (as my body grew, over the years, so did the amount of codeine I required to ease the effects of my many, different strokes), another person, born without an AVM might, potentially, have waited and waited for his or her physical reprieve, only, eventually, having to be let know that the pain was only going to intensify, perpetually, or was going to dissipate, only to resurge, in full force, at the drop of someone’s else’s hat.