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Kori’s Story

Hello, My name is Kori Harnish. Here is my story about my AVM.

On April 4th 2002 I started my day as a normal 10 year old. I ate breakfast and got ready for school. As I was getting ready I told my mother that I shouldn’t go to school because something bad was going to happen. She told me I had to go to school. I kept telling her that something bad was going to happen, but she insisted I go to school. The bus came and I started out the door, but for some reason I turned around and told my mother that I loved her and gave her a hug. I got on the bus, after a few stops I developed a severe migraine. Words can not describe how bad it was. I tried calling my mother but as I was dialing her phone number I blacked out. A friend had to finish the number and press send for me.

When I finally got ahold of her, I told her that I had a horrible migraine and that I had went blind. She thought I was joking because I hated school. She said that she would bring me some medicine as soon as my little sister woke up. As we approached the school, I finally got my vision back. I walked into school and into my classroom, I told my teacher what had happened on the bus and that I needed to call my mom to come and get me. She insisted that I go to the bathroom and get a wet paper towel to put on my head. I told her that it wouldn’t work because of how bad it was. She got mad and yelled at me to go and get the wet paper towel. I went to the bathroom and attempted to get the wet paper towel. When I walked into the bathroom, my head was throbbing so hard I got light headed, very dizzy and started vomiting. I slipped on water on the floor and laid there. After a few minutes of me being gone from the classroom, my teacher sent a classmate to go check on me. She found me laying in the bathroom and ran to the nurse’s office. The nurse came and got me from the bathroom, when I got to the nurses office I started vomiting and running a high temp fever. The nurse called my mother and told her that she needed to come and get me because I was running a temp and vomiting. After the nurse got off the phone with my mother I had a seizure. The nurse had to call 911. The fire truck was across the street changing a light bulb on the football field.

My mom finally got to the school, and when she got there the entire circle drive of the intermediate school was filled with fire trucks, ambulances, and a rescue squad. All of the office staff of the school ran out to her truck as she was getting my little sister out of the car seat and said “Mrs. Harnish this is for Kori. She had a seizure and we had to call 911. My mom threw my little sister into one of the staff’s arms and ran inside the school. As she reached the office she seen that the paramedics were trying to revive me. The ambulance took me to St. Mary’s hospital in Decatur IL.

When I arrived I had an emergency CT scan which showed there was a massive amount of blood around my brain. Doctors told my mom that I had 1-2 hours to live and asked her what funeral home she wanted to take me to. ( Keep in mind that I’m only 10 years old.) My mom said that was unacceptable and she wanted me transferred. I couldn’t be air lifted because of the pressure. St. John’s in Springfield IL sent a special team to come and get me. On the way to St. John’s I had a stroke that affected my left side. Once we got to St. John’s I had two neurosurgeons’ waiting for me. They shaved my hair completely off ( I had hair down to my butt) then I was cut from ear to ear. They took out the top of my skull, and started draining the fluid off. As they were drilling the top of my skull I came to. My eyes were taped so I really couldn’t see any thing but I did see bright lights and white gowns walking around me, they looked like angels. I then asked if I was in heaven and the team panicked. They told me that I need to go back to sleep and they were going to give me milk of amnesia. After they got the fluid away from my brain they kept me on life support. They told my mom that I was probably never going to be able to walk or talk again. I was kept sedated for 5 days.

On April 9th 2002 they took me back into surgery to put the top of my skull back in and remove the tubes. Later that day, I woke up, I pulled the ventilator and feeding tube out. I got out of the hospital bed and tried to walk to my mom who was sitting across the room sleeping. My grandmother walked in as I was trying to get to my mom and woke her up. They put me back in bed and told me that I had to lay there because a lot just happened to me. I didn’t understand why everyone was crying or why I was in the hospital to begin with, since I was still a  little out of it. The nurses came in and checked me to make sure I was okay from pulling things out.

The next day I woke up, and there were 2 clowns standing over top of me, I remember one of them had a bee on their nose. I was TERRIFIED! Still to this day I hate clowns. I had to learn how to walk, talk, blink, eat, ect. I was released on April 15th 2002 because it was my 11th birthday. The nurses and doctors had a party for me. When I got out of the hospital I weighted 57lbs. I had to do months of physical and occupational therapy. After being home about 3 weeks, I started having headaches again. We went to St. John’s to see what was wrong, They found a cyst in the right frontal lobe, in the same vicinity of AVM. They said that they needed to either remove or drain it. I had the cyst drained, but the sack is still there. My mom asked how I got the cyst. The team of doctors told her that there was so much pressure in my head from all the blood, it broke the 3rd and 4th ventricles in my neck. I will always have the sack and spinal fluid around my brain.

As of today, I am 22 years old,  and healthy. I live the life of a normal 22 year old and have no restrictions. It is always in the back of my mind that my AVM can come back or that the cyst could fill up again,  but I try my best not to think about it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Miracles to happen!! I am a miracle!!