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Nichi Martinez - Brainstem Cavernous Angioma


Nichole Martinez

After recovering from a 2003 bleed from the cavernous angioma in her brainstem, Nichi Martinez still prays she will live to see her daughter's wedding. Then age 30, Nichi survived the bleed, but she has been told her cavernous angioma is inoperable.

The discovery of the angioma came after she was misdiagnosed with Bell's Palsy and prescribed medication that was counter-productive to her hemorrhage. After a one-month stay in the hospital, she completed two months of speech therapy because she couldn't feel one side of her face. She still doesn't recognize her own voice.

While in the hospital for the cavernous angioma bleed, doctors performed a body scan and found an unrelated cyst in her chest. The pericardial teratoma was nearly the size of a cantaloupe and needed to be removed, she said. Without the bleed in her brainstem, the pericardial teratoma could have been fatal. With a grin, Nichi said it was a possible blessing in disguise and her hospital stay was her “30-year tune up.”

Today, Nichi still has good days and bad. She struggles with her short-term memory, double and blurred vision and with maintaining her balance. At the time of her bleed, she had a 3-month-old daughter, a 1 ½-year-old son and a 10-year-old son. Even with the struggles, she remains grateful she lived to see her children grow. With tears in her eyes, Nichi, now 42, said she doesn't “sweat the small stuff.”

“Before this, there was never a day I would let my dishes sit in sink or leave the laundry sitting out,” she said. “But now, I know it will get done. I want to enjoy my life instead.”