My Story: Part 1

Sometimes life is great, everything is going your way, and you feel on top of the world. When I graduated from Georgetown University in May of 2017, I felt like I could do anything. I walked down Healy Lawn the morning of May 20th to receive my diploma and reap the fruits of a rigorous yet fulfilling academic career. I then proceeded to celebrate (maybe a bit too much) with all my best friends and family.

So yeah, you could say I was living my very best life. I was so excited to turn the page and begin my next chapter. I had a job lined up in Boston that I was excited about, and three months to relax, travel, and catch up with friends before I made the big move.

But sometimes when things are going exceptionally well, it feels like the universe wants to spite us and show us that ultimately, we don’t always have complete control over our situation, and it can change at any moment. Shit happens.

Barely a week after I shook President DeGioia’s hand and received my diploma, my life as I knew it changed forever.


On May 30, 2017 I checked into New York Presbyterian Hospital for brain surgery. Since childhood, I was plagued with terrible migraines, culminating in a series of migraines lasting over 20 days when I was in high school. My neurologist decided to order an MRI, which confirmed our suspicions that there was something else going on. It was discovered that I had a rare arteriovenous malformation (AVM for short), in the right occipital lobe of my brain. I made the decision to have brain surgery once I graduated college to remove the risk of a potential rupture. I was informed that with each year of life there is an increased chance of the AVM bleeding and causing a stroke or even death. I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea of brain surgery, but I was even less a fan of dying from an AVM bleed, so I decided to go in for brain surgery and have it removed. The doctors told me that if everything went well, I would rest and recover for a month or two and be in perfect condition to move up to Boston and start my job at the end of the summer.

Well, let’s just say that didn’t happen as planned. One of the pre-operative procedures caused a blood clot in my brain which burst, causing a massive brain hemorrhage and an emergency surgery. On his way into surgery, the neurosurgeon told my parents that “the situation was grim. It doesn’t look good,” and then he rushed off to the OR.

7 hours and 6 liters of blood transfusions later, I lay completely paralyzed on the left side of my body in a hospital bed in the New York Presbyterian ICU. Upon waking up from a coma a few hours later, I had no idea what had happened and it was unclear what recovery from this might look like.


I’ll be using this blog to share weekly posts about my biggest takeaways from my journey with recovery. I want to empower and inspire others by sharing my experience.

Obstacles are opportunities, and I believe that within my struggle with stroke lies an awesome opportunity to empower others to find meaning in the face of hardship.

More to come.



Hi, my name is Maddi. In this journal I share my journey with stroke rehabilitation, in the hopes that by sharing my experience I can empower and inspire others to find ways to repurpose or find meaning even in the face of hardship. Join the journey and subscribe below for updates on my latest posts.

12 thoughts on “My Story: Part 1

  1. My story is the same AVM and all. Mind did bleed in April but I had surgery July 10th to embolize it and like yours, it didn’t go as planned. I too had a stroke paralyzing the left side of my body. I’m currently in rehab after my 65 night stay in the hospital and 4 brain surgeries later. I’d love to chat with you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maddi, I have read your story a few times now. I have the honor to Know you Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy in 2018. I want to say I love how positive you are. Through it all, your kindness and inspiration shines through so bright! I hate your story of what you had to go through and I know the struggles. It won’t end until our last day and for that I am sorry. I hope that through your journey you may find peace! Keep it up with the posts as I know you will. I know you are an inspiration to many as well as me. It is always an honor, Maddi. Thank you for sharing your story! You are incredibly brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maddi, your story is an inspiration to many! It is my honor to say that I am your friend. I have known you since Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy from 2018. Your overwhelming kindness and love for all shines through. I know that your story is an inspiration to many. As much as I hate your story(because of the struggles), I love the overriding message. Keep it coming as I know you will! On behalf of all here and myself, thank you. Thank you for being you! Without you, the world wouldn’t be as nice a place. I know the struggles are hard, but keep going. You have so much more to do! It is my honor to say that you are a dear friend of mine. Thank you! 😊😁


  4. Madi..your faith, positiveness, attitude, help to others and so much
    More make us very proud will go far..
    Mommy and Pop


  5. Wow your story is crazy, I don’t know how are you can remain so positive given your situation(it’s only been 7 months since my stroke and depression is kicking my ass), I had my stroke March of this year, I was 27 years old I’m 28 now it was caused by an infection in my heart that ultimately went into my brain and caused two massive strokesand so many mini strokes that they couldn’t count how much(my doctor’s words)no idea how I got the infection, probably from my job as a bus driver in San Francisco you get exposed to a lot of nasty stuff. 7 months post balance sucks, limited mobility in my left arm hand is dead, can’t walk without an ago and cane still have to do heart surgery soon to replace my heart valve that the infection chewed up pretty good. Was just notified that the infection is still there and can cause more strokes or a heart attack they wanted to wait until I’m stronger to do the surgery.


  6. I’m tearing up remembering all of this. You’re such an eloquent author Maddi, and as our old friend Emmanuel would say, an absolute bad ass.

    Liked by 1 person

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