Background Story

Katherine suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke caused by the rupture of an AVM (arterial veinous malformation) in her right cerebellum on April 21, 2008. Only 13 percent of strokes are hemorrhagic and of those, only about 2 percent are from AVMs. In other words, the chances of this happening were extremely slim. She had just turned 26, delivered a healthy baby six months before with no epidural, and worked out almost every day. She had never smoked, was not overweight and had no family history of any neurological issues. She had no idea that an AVM had been growing in her brain since birth.

According to her neurosurgeon, Katherine’s AVM was the largest he had ever seen, in the worst possible location, and with the worst possible blood drainage. All of those factors, coupled with the massive pressure which was literally squeezing her brain down into her spine, placed the surgeon in quite a predicament. Should he attempt to operate at all? If he did operate and Katherine survived the surgery, would she ever wake from a coma or worse, would she wake only to live in a persistent vegetative state or with “locked-in” syndrome? The CT scans and testing done in the emergency room revealed that Katherine was on the verge of death.

In that moment, God came along side that surgeon and led him to take on her case against all the rational odds. After a very delicate, 16-hour surgery, Katherine’s full blood volume had been replaced 5 times and the entire AVM had been removed along with over half of her cerebellum. In the process of the removal, several of Katherine’s intracranial nerves were damaged. Less than 24 hours after the surgery, Katherine responded to a nurse’s command to wiggle her toes and lift her fingers. Such signs of God’s hand were evidenced innumerable times in the following 40 days that Katherine spent in ICU. Though each day was fraught with new death-defying drama, Katherine pulled out of the darkest waters, and after stabilizing off of life support, she was transitioned to the Acute Rehab unit.

She spent almost 4 months in Acute Rehab, before going to Casa Colina for continued therapy, where she was for over a year. Seven intercranial nerves were damaged in surgery and she has many dramatic deficits today (including partial facial paralysis, the lack of cooridination in her right hand and severe double vision), BUT she is getting well. After losing the ability to eat or drink for over 11 months, she passed a swallowing test on March 25, 2009. After being confined to a wheelchair for a year and a half, she was able to walk with a cane on October 21, 2009. God has been good to her and spared her life. Now He is healing all her deficits.

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