Survivor Around the Globe, Courtney Cuba

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I was made aware of my AVM in April 2013 when I was in a car accident. The hospital ran scans on my brain just to be sure I didn’t have a bleed from the impact of the accident and they stumbled upon my AVM. I never had any symptoms in my 29 years of life – no headaches, no seizures. From there I did cyberknife treatments and simply followed up with my doctor to see if it had shrunk or made any changes for the next couple of years.

In December of 2016 I was working out and all of a sudden got the worst headache I’ve ever had. I left the class, went home and woke up in the morning still with a killer headache. I called the doctor who was doing the cyberknife treatments and he told me to go to the ER immediately. It turned out that my AVM ruptured and my nuerosurgeon wanted to remove it completely.

For me, the hospital stays were hard, especially being a brain patient.  The 1-hour checks throughout the night made sleeping impossible and they also wouldn’t give me any sleeping medications because they didn’t want to mess with my brain functions too much. However, on the positive side, the nurses in the ICU are amazing human beings.

In January 2017 I had 2 embolization procedures followed by a craniotomy. The AVM was successfully removed and I began my recovery process.

After the surgery, however, I started getting migraines that would knock me out for days. My neurosurgeon decided it would be best to put a shunt in my brain to help relieve some of the pressure, which worked fantastically as I haven’t had a migraine since. After the AVM removal surgery I did have some pretty substantial left sided weakness in both my leg and arm. My doctor did mention to me prior to surgery that it was a possibility and that it wouldn’t be permanent. I had to relearn how to walk again through physical therapy, but I am almost back to normal now! It’s been quite the journey and I’m so glad that I never, ever have to worry about my AVM again.

I can now go back to enjoying life by taking my dog on walks, gardening and going to shows!

The Joe Niekro Foundation would like to thank Courtney for sharing her survivor story with us. We are so happy to see a young woman being able to enjoy life again!

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