Being diagnosed with an AVM certainly changes your life–your plans, your goals, your feelings. I imagine that having a bleed or developing complications has an even greater effect. I am trying to keep living my life as normally as possible. People encourage me, and even compliment me for it. They say that they admire me for staying in school. They tell me not to quit. They say if it were them they would have given up. “Good for you!” they tell me. And I know they mean well. I know that they are being sincere. I keep thinking (and saying) that I think I made a mistake. My heart just isn’t in it. If I have a bleed tomorrow (or get hit by a bus) is this how I would have wanted to spend my last days? Pissed off and stressed out, preparing for a career that is even less accommodating than law school? Falling asleep with text books on my chest? Not being able to remember the last time I felt relaxed? Dealing with catty high school politics and backstabbing? Is it okay to be irresponsible instead? To say, “to hell with it,” and just walk away? Who regrets spending time and energy on bullshit? Who wishes they had just had more fun?

Hi, Marilyn. Only you know what is right for you. If you enjoy being in school…go for it. But if you’re only doing it to prove that you can and it’s making you miserable and you are not getting to enjoy your time with your family…maybe you should rethink the timing. My philosophy is to enjoy life with my family as much as possible right now. We are here for you either way!


I completely identify with what you are going through.

They found my AVM through a brain hemorrhage that I barely survived, so from my perspective, I have been given a second chance at life. “What would you do if you were given a second chance at life?” - I would often ask friends.

Am I going to continue along my previous life/career path as if nothing happened, or will I change course and do something more important with my life.

Is my new outlook permanent or will I revert to my old perspective after some time passes? These are questions I ask myself constantly.

Right after recovering from my brain hemorrhage, I just toughed it out, finished business school, and pretended that my AVM was just a minor inconvenience. That was a year ago, and unfortunately, I realize it wasn’t so simple. I am a different person and my values are different. The Ben who went to business school to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company isn’t the same Ben that am I today.

In terms of your school and career as an attorney, my personal opinion is to recognize that your experience has changed you. That change is real and probably permanent. Pre-AVM Mariyln is not the same person as post-AVM Marilyn… Who is post-AVM Marilyn? What does she care about and what changes will she make in her life in response?

I hope it helps a little maybe to realize you’re not alone in what you are going through. I know how confusing it is - I’m still confused.


What does Marilyn want out of life? With or without the AVM, whats important? Just know that we support your decisions (i support them) no matter what.

Remember that you do have options besides working 100 hours for a corporate law firm once you graduate.

I have many friends who went to law school and did not work in corporate law at all. My friend Gilbert works for the Navy as a JAG and really enjoys it. My friend Javier went to work for the county of Santa Clara as an administrator after law school and really enjoys public service. My friend Maria works as a government-paid child advocate after finishing law school.

Of course, there are trade-offs in terms of less pay and less prestige among your classmates (perhaps) but all of my friends manage to live well and are happy avoiding corporate law. Your feelings may be short-term and you decide to practice corporate law - I doubt it - but in my opinion, finishing your degree at least gives you additional options that make you happy and take care of your kids.



I owe $107,000—150K when I am done.

Hi Marilyn,
Just follow your dreams. And time and love is the most important for your kids. But they to grow up! I’ve changed my caree and goals since I have had this AVM. I will start doing fun things for me…like getting a tat…Do what puts sunshine in your soul…do for you !
Sending Angel light and love…D