Liz Bear, a TikTok user revealed virally that her 36-week-old spinal AVM was misdiagnosed as sciatica by doctors. She had to have several operations and learn to walk again.
The harrowing diagnosis shocked this mommy-to be.
An expecting mother, Liz Bear online, started having difficulty walking at 36 weeks of pregnancy.
She alerted her doctors about the concern, but they dismissed her diagnosis of sciatica. This is a sharp, radiating pain that radiates down the back into the legs. It’s a condition most people experience during their third trimester of pregnancy.
However, the true source of Bear’s pain was anything but common.
“Doctors were wrong,” the married mother lamented in the closed-caption of her trending TikTok testimonial with more than 1.5 million views. “I had a spinal AVM. Needed 2 surgeries and had to relearn to walk.”
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Bear stated on TikTok, that her spinal AVM was incorrectly diagnosed as sciatica by doctors when she was 36 weeks old.
The new mom claimed she’d never experienced any symptoms of her spinal abnormality until she became pregnant.
Spinal AVM, also known as spinal arteriovenous malformation or spinal AVM, is a rare condition. This is when blood vessels clog up on, near, and around the spinal cord. It’s an abnormality that typically develops in the fetus, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and most people aren’t even aware that they suffer with the condition until it’s diagnose via X-rays, MRIs and CT scans. An AVM in the spinal spine can burst, causing bleeding to surrounding areas.
In a separate video, Bear revealed that she was temporarily relegated to a wheelchair after undergoing an embolization — a procedure that uses tiny particles, such as tiny gelatin sponges or beads, to block a blood vessel — as well as AVM resection. A neurosurgeon uses a microscope during the resection to carefully cut off the blood supply and then remove the tumor from the body.
“Spinal AVM resection is a scary procedure with a long and difficult recovery,” Bear penned in the caption of the clip, featuring footage of her fighting back tears as she began learning how to walk again in physical therapy.
“As my physical therapist rolled that mirror in front of me, my heart sank, to my stomach and my eyes filled with tears,” she admitted. “It was the first time I saw myself in a wheelchair and leg braces after my 1 embolization and 2 surgeries to remove my spinal AVM.”
Bear acknowledged that the reality of her condition was more than she could handle.
“Nothing prepares you for this moment where you see this new, broken version of yourself,” she said. “Not knowing if you will ever get back to the way you were before.”
“The fear that floods through your body can be debilitating, but you have to remain hopeful,” she added encouragingly.
Bear went on to share an additional post of herself in physical therapy, walking with the support of a Ekso GT, which she explained to be a “robotic exoskeleton used for over-ground gait training in people with a neurological diagnosis.”
“It helps people re-learn the correct step patterns and weight shifts involved in walking,” she continued, in part.
“It was such an amazing feeling to take those steps.”
Her inspiring recovery story was also a surprise to digital viewers.
“God bless you Liz!!! You are so strong and kept going,” cheered a supportive commenter.
“Beautiful improvement. What a journey you’ve been working through & achieving! Keep going!” a separate cyber spectator chanted.
“Yes ma’am!! Praise God for restoring what was lost!” another raved.
Other commentators, however, blasted health care providers for often shrugging off pregnant women’s concerns as mere gestational pangs.
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Bear has been able to walk again since her diagnosis.
She’s shared footage of her walking with her daughter on social media.
“So typical of doctors [and] Nursing mothers while they are pregnant. ANYTHING you raise with them ‘You’re pregnant, it’s normal,’ without even a second look,” rebuked a writer.
“I’m so scared of this,” said another. “I keep telling doctors that I’m struggling to walk and they’re like, ‘Oh it’s pregnancy.’”
“Doctor told me I was overreacting [to] the pain after having a baby,” another added. “I had endometrial cancer.”
Bear responded to her comments by pointing out that her obstetrician helped her get the care she needed.
“If it wasn’t for my amazing OB also advocating for me things could have turned out a lot worse,” Bear wrote. “She pushed for a neurological consult after I delivered.”
Elsewhere in the comments, she said, “I was completely shocked when I found out [about the spinal AVM].
“Never had any symptoms my whole life. Until pregnancy.”
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