COMMUNITY STORIES | 8.26.2015 | BY JESUS ALBERTO WONG JAMES
My name is Jesus Alberto Wong James, from Santiago, and on August 23, 2013 I had a stroke caused by AVMs. (An AVM is a brain arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.) When I had my stroke, I was preparing to go to college, and one day I just crouched down when I suddenly felt something I thought was a strong blow to the head. This was immediately followed by an intense headache, and I began to lose feeling in the left side of my body. As soon as this happened, my mother quickly took me to the hospital, and as soon as we arrived I started to convulse. While I was at the hospital, I continued to have convulsions that got consistently worse, until a last convulsion that left me in a coma for 16 days.
During this time, I had to have emergency surgery to stop bleeding in my brain, but it wasn't the last time I would need brain surgery. The truth is that I've now had three surgeries on my brain, two of which have been with my brain exposed, one of which was with a radio surgery called gamma knife in order to prevent another stroke. I feel that I've honestly been lucky, and that my rehabilitation has been very favorable, mostly because so many people have helped me, especially my parents and my sister.
The trauma was in the right occipital lobe of my brain, meaning it affected the whole left side of my body, leaving me unable to move on that side. This made the possibility of being able to communicate clearly almost impossible, and eating became a whole new challenge because I'm left handed, so I've had to go to therapy and hydrotherapy to rehabilitate and relearn how to do these things.
The truth of my situation was very difficult for me to come to terms with, but my therapists have been working with me, and I've since returned to walking and eating, although it was like teaching a baby to do these things. One of the things I've been dealing with is the fact that my vision has been affected by the stroke, and unfortunately the damage is irreversible.
One great thing I want to mention is that the first day walking again in therapy felt like winning the World Cup! Also, with all the support from so many people, they never let me be sad and this positivity really helped. They have accepted me as I am and have helped me to achieve my goals, which meant that I never let myself mourn my situation too much.
For me, the most important goals I wanted to achieve were walking again and getting into school, and now two years later I've achieved both! I realize that I've been successful in my recovery with the help of many people and especially with the help of God. Being in university and being able to walk again have helped improve my outlook, and thanks to the rehabilitation and acceptance from everyone around me, I know that no matter what I have to keep on fighting to recover. I'm grateful that so many people have supported me, and that I can share my story now with others. I've learned that it's important to not give up, and that if you pursue your dreams, you can achieve your goals, like I did with writing my story. I have achieved so much, and I'm grateful for everyone who helps make it easier for me to pursue my dreams and my goals.