Medicated and Motivated

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This victory is for ALL the Americans that will have access to care, but the best part about the victory today is that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition!!!

This victory is for ALL the Americans that will have access to care, but the best part about the victory today is that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition!!!

(Source: barackobama)

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Today marks the one-year anniversary of my brain surgery where Dr. Michael Lawton, his team, Lisa Hannegan, Dr. Neal Cohen, and the neuro-ICU team at UCSF Medical Center saved my life! 

Thank you for all the positive thoughts and sparkles…my community is such an inspiration and I would not be here today without their love.

Cheers to not having to mark the anniversary of another brain surgery!

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sparkles runs in my blood

I’ve really been struggling…I’ve tried to write a blog post for the past 2 weeks to say thank you for all the love and support everyone has sent my way this year. So, THANK YOU!

I have no idea how to start my first post, but as we enter the new year, I thought a reflection and recap of the past couple years would be most appropriate.

After working in corporate banking for almost five years, I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. That led me overseas temporarily as a volunteer with Wokai, where I grew micro-finance in China. I also worked with Embrace, a social enterprise that designed a low-cost infant incubator for third world countries and co-founded Social Innovation China, a series of bar-camp style un-conferences for social entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders.

While in China, I had a medical emergency in November 2010, requiring brain shunt surgery to drain fluid doctors thought a tumor was blocking. I had never had a serious medical condition before. I returned to the US to seek continued medical care, but because I had a pre-existing condition, I was considered medically-uninsurable and was denied health insurance by all providers. Fortunately, President Obama’s healthcare reform gave me access to medical insurance when nobody else would. I was able to get medical insurance through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance plan, which was a result of the federal Affordable Care Act of 2010.

I wanted to turn a negative into a positive, and started a healthcare non-profit called Give To Health. We became a member of Rock Health, the first seed accelerator exclusively dedicated to interactive health startups. I initially started getting involved in healthcare as a casual observer, but now my work is in trying make healthcare better; working with Rock Health to support entrepreneurs in healthcare.

Just this past June, I fell into another coma on the day of Rock Health’s launch and was admitted to neuro-ICU at UCSF for almost a month. At UCSF, Dr. Michael Lawton and his team saved my life and performed brain surgery to remove a rare aneurysm that had burst in my midbrain, which was previously thought to be an in-active and in-operable tumor by all neurosurgeons.

I have no memory of the summer and have re-learned most motor and cognitive skills in rehab. The brain is amazing. I had to re-learn everything (and am still learning). I was not able to walk, talk, or eat on my own post-surgery. I am happy to report that I can now do all of those activities without assistance.

I was in a “living coma” for the summer and do not have any memories from June to August. I was talking and walking (with a walker or in a wheelchair), but not aware of anything going on. I thought I was stuck in a bad dream when I began forming memories again. For lack of a better term, I now call that period of time a matrix.

During a crisis, you realize how deep your reservoir of support is and I have been overwhelmed by the constant support my friends and family have provided…they have been an amazing inspiration to me the past year. It should not take a life-threatening circumstance for people to realize the vast diversity of good people surrounding them, but I’ve got to say, this emergency made me really see how my personal community can come together to support my family, each other, and myself. I am constantly amazed when I hear their stories…my network of family and friends really are incredible and my recovery is a direct reflection of their love.

This blog is for all the patients out there. I will blog on a variety of topics…my patient experience, being a young-adult survivor, recovery, etc. If I can motivate people to make healthcare better, encourage other survivors, or even make people aware through this process of sharing, then I turn my negative into an incredible positive, which is my ultimate goal. I hope this can be a glimmer of hope for anyone that knows someone going through a medical emergency or is recovering from brain surgery.