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Dear Rachel,

My problem is not typical of the kind you address in your column, but I’m hoping that you will print it nonetheless and that someone out there might have some helpful information to share.


About 15 months ago, after experiencing some numbness in my upper leg area that led to difficulty in simply walking, I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Spinal AVM. An MRI confirmed that clumps of arteries were compressing against my spine, cutting off blood supply to the rest of my body. Hence, the numbness to my extremities.

Actually, all the research I did on this condition indicated that I was quite fortunate in obtaining the diagnosis, which led to the proper treatment. When left untreated, it can heaven forbid lead to paralysis.

Unfortunately, the solution is a complicated lengthy surgical procedure to disentangle the mass of arteries so that essential blood flow is restored. Baruch Hashem the surgery was deemed successful.

Recuperation was a long haul. Despite undergoing physical therapy, numbness, pain and tingling in my feet continued, to the point where I’ve had to rely on painkillers. In addition to the med’s side effects, the pain has never completely subsided. I’ve been for follow-up tests, X-rays and an MRI that don’t show anything amiss.

By now I’m at my wit’s end. The doctors I’ve seen are stumped. They don’t know why I’m experiencing such debilitating pain and discomfort so many months later.

I do try to keep busy. Aside of mommy duty (raising small children, baruch Hashem), I’ve resumed my part-time job in a nursery school.

I don’t mean to sound like a kvetch, but lately it’s more than my feet causing me discomfort. I’ve been feeling nerve pain along my neck and arms. I try not to whine too much for there is really nothing my husband or extended family can do for me besides feeling helpless as they watch me suffer.

I’m wondering whether anyone in your reading audience has had Spinal AVM and has perhaps had similar episodes to mine. I am so desperate for a refuah. I’ve been feeling increasingly depressed and disheartened.

I should mention that I’ve written to you before, going back a decade or so ago, and your advice was very helpful.

I look forward to seeing my letter in print and hope, b’ezras Hashem, you’ll be the conduit to connect me with someone, somewhere, capable and knowledgeable in this area.

I thank you in advance.

Seeking a Cure


Dear Seeking,

My heart goes out to you. As a mother of young children, you are in your prime and are certainly in need of your full kochos.

I wish I had the knowledge to be of help, but I fear your dilemma is beyond my expertise. The best I can do for now is daven for you that Hashem should send you a refuah sheleima b’karov. You’ve provided me with your name for tefillah that I won’t share here to protect your privacy.

If only Hashem will deem me worthy of being the shliach to affect a cure that will allow you to carry on with your life’s mission without the constant pain you’ve been experiencing. I wish you menuchas hanefesh, simchas b’lev and a full, speedy recovery. Yeshuas Hashem k’heref ayin!


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