By Jakob Marschner
Elena Artiolis type of brain disease never vanishes or decreases in size. But hers did after she went to Medjugorje. Her Italian specialist knows of no other cases in the world when this has happened. To Elena herself, her spiritual renewal is the greatest miracle and gift that she received.
Cerebral arteriovenous malformation is just about as bad as it sounds. It is a blood vessel disease inside the brain whose size does not decrease, but only remains the same or increases.
The one exception from this in the world is Elena Artioli from Bologna, Italy. She became this exception after she went to Medjugorje.
The Italian girl was 16 years old in 1998 when recurring eyesight problems led to her being diagnosed with cerebral arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in the rear left frontal region, 3 centimeters in dimension.
AVM is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain. The most frequent AVM problems are headaches and seizures .Other common symptoms are a pulsing noise in the head, progressive weakness, numbness and vision changes as well as debilitating, excruciating pain.
From that moment, my life completely changed. I was living in fear, in anguish, in the unknowing, in sadness and in daily anxiety of that which could happen at any moment Elena Artioli tells in her testimony atGuarda Con Me,the blog of Medjugorje photographer Daniel Miot.
Expert gives hope, but no surgery
With serious cases of AVM, the blood vessels rupture and there is bleeding within the brain. Symptoms due to bleeding include loss of consciousness, sudden and severe headache, nausea, vomiting, incontinence, and blurred vision.
Impairments caused by local brain tissue damage on the bleed site are also possible, including seizure, one-sided weakness, a loss of touch sensation on one side of the body, and deficits in language processing.
Elena Artioli went throughout Italy searching for the expert who could give her the confidence and answers she needed. After several big disappointments, she found him in Dr. Edoardo Boccardi, the chief neurologist of the neuroradiology department of Milans Niguarda Hospital, and an international capacity in the field.
He told me that at that time he would neither perform surgery nor carry out any type of therapy because it was an area too large and too thin to treat with radiosurgery. I could carry on with my life with as calmly as possible however, I had to avoid any activities that could provoke an increase in cerebral pressure Elena Artioli tells.
Thank God, the results of my MRIs, consistently taken each year in Milan, showed no significant differences over time. The next to last MRI dated back to April 21st 2007, to be exact. Since then I always put off further testing out of fear of discovering that something had changed over the years.
Transformation and cure in Medjugorje
It had been more than four years since the now 29 years old Elena Artiolis most recent medical check-up when she allowed a close friend and co-worker to persuade her to go to Medjugorje. Her friend had described the place as a destination of internal serenity and great peace.
That was what I needed at that moment. And so, with a lot of curiosity and a little bit of skepticism, I left on August 2nd 2011 with my mother for Medjugorjes Youth Festival Elena Artioli tells.
I lived 4 days of intense emotions. I came very close to the faith and to prayer. The ascents of the two mounts, especially on Cross Mountain where I teared up by surprise following a prayer, are places of profound peace, joy, and inner serenity precisely those sensations that my friend continuously referred to, and which I struggled to believe.
Though Elena Artioli prayed a lot in Medjugorje, she did not ask anything for herself.
It was as if something entered inside you that you were not asking for. I prayed a lot but I was unable to ask for anything because I always thought that there were people that had precedence and priority compared to me, and compared to my problems she says.
I returned home, profoundly changed in my spirit, with joy in my eyes and serenity in my heart. I was able to deal with daily problems with a different spirit and energy. Prayer became a daily necessity it makes me feel better.
Check-up reveals unique improvement
As time passed, Elena Artioli gained the awareness of having received an unusual grace. She found the courage and decided, after five years, to book her usual test in Milan, set for April 16th 2012.
After the MRI, I went for the exam with my doctor. Comparing the last study with that from 5 years earlier, there was a sharp reduction in the size of the vascular nidus and an overall reduction in the caliber of venous drainage, with proximal parenchymal pain Elena Artioli testifies.
The meeting with the doctor, still in disbelief, showed that the size of the vascular nidus was about 1 centimeter, and that it is practically impossible that an AVM spontaneously shrinks, without any type of treatment. My doctor says that I am his first case of this in all of his vast professional experience, even overseas. An AVM usually either grows or remains the same size.
And still then, Elena Artioli considers her spiritual renewal to be an even greater gift than her physical healing:
Physical healing is without a doubt something visible, tangible and truly a great thing, but I recognize more so the interior spiritual healing, the path of conversion, the serenity and the strength that I now have. It is priceless and it is beyond compare she says.
Only today can I assert that with joy and serenity, that anything that could happen to me in the future, I will take on with a different spirit, with more tranquility and courage and with less fear, because I will not feel alone, and that which has been given to me is something that is truly big.
I am living my life more deeply. Every single day is a gift.