A beautiful girl on a path of faith connected to Medjugorje. Illness; the search for answers and for hope.
Elena Artioli: Tell us about your life and how you faced difficulties.
My story began at the age of 16, when, due to recurring vision problems, I found out that I had a cerebral arteriovenous malformation (angioma) in the rear left frontal region, 3 centimeters in dimension. 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.
I went searching for “someone”…that someone who could give me explanations, help, hope. With my parents’ support and having them close by, I went throughout Italy searching for that person who could give me the confidence and the answers that I needed. After several big disappointments by doctors who treated me as an object instead of as a person, without the any regard as to the most important thing, that is, the person’s feelings, the “human side,” I then received a gift from heaven, my Guardian Angel: Edoardo Boccardi, chief neurologist of the neuroradiology department of Milan’s Niguarda Hospital.
In addition to being close to me with extreme professionalism and experience, from a medical standpoint, through exams and check-ups repeated in time, for me, this person was able to always give me that faith, those answers and that hope that I was searching for…so big and so important that I was able to trust him totally…however things went, I knew that I had a special and knowledgeable person at my side. He told me that at that time he would had neither performed 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; the risks I could be exposed to were a cerebral hemorrhage due to blood vessels rupturing or a growth in the vascular nidus that could result in pain in the surrounding cerebral tissue.
I am a physical therapist and I work daily with people with disabilities that came as the result of situations like mine…let’s say that it is not always easy to have the strength and the will to react, without giving up. In spite of all of my strength, my will and my huge desire to become a good physical therapist, I had to overcome an extremely difficult path graduating from university, trying to pass exams like neurosurgery and tumors,…that “spoke” in a certain way about me and my situation.
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 5 years ago, 21 April 2007, to be exact. Since then I have always put off further testing out of fear of discovering that something changed over the years.
Elena in Medjugorje
In life, you go through moments of pain, of discomfort, of anger, due to various situations, which could be the end of an important love story, job difficulties, family problems, and you certainly don’t want to add another thought in that moment. In a period of my life where my heart had gone through a lot of suffering, I allowed a dear friend, as well as co-worker, to persuade me to go on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, referred by her as a destination of great peace and internal serenity, which is what I needed at that moment. And so, with a lot of curiosity and a little bit of skepticism, I left on 2 August 2011 with my mother for Medjugorje’s Mladifest (Youth Festival). I lived 4 days of intense emotions; I came very close to the faith and to prayer (if before praying the “Hail Mary” was tough, I now feel the need to and joy in it). The ascents of the two mounts, especially on the Krizevac (the mount of the white cross) 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 refers to, and to which I struggled to believe.
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. 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. I felt the necessity to tell the world how I felt and what I saw. Prayer became a daily necessity: it makes me feel better. As time passed, I gained the awareness of having received my first great Grace. I found the courage and decided, after 5 years, to book my usual test in Milan, set for 16 April 2012.
Beforehand, however, it was important for me to go to confession to an exorcist priest, Father Francesco Bazzoffi who for me was a man of great qualities and values, who I feel very very close to. I went to him a few days before the test, Saturday, 14 April 2012 to be exact. After my confession, with my conspicuous worries about the tests coming up the following Monday, he decided to give me a personal blessing for my health problems with the laying on of the hands. He said, “Well, it’s not even that big…” It amazed me and made me think (I knew it to be 3 centimeters in size) and he continued, saying, “What is it? About 1 centimeter?!!!!” Before leaving the room, he said, “Elena, when will you come back to visit me?...In May???!!!...That way you can tell me how it went!” Very confused and surprised, I answered that I would come back in May.
That Monday, I went to Milan with my parents who never leave me by myself during check-ups in which I live an emotionally intense day. 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. I instinctively turned my glance towards my mother, and it was as if we had met at the same time and same point. We both felt the same things with tears in our eyes. We did not have any doubt in the least that I had received a second Grace.
The meeting with the doctor, still in disbelief, showed that: - the size of the vascular nidus was about 1 centimeter (which connects back to what the priest’s conversation); - that it is practically impossible that an AVM spontaneously shrink, 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). It usually either grows or remains the same size.Comparison of the exams
Every doctor, like every person of “science,” has to have an appropriate treatment that produces a certain result. I could certainly not be part of this. In that moment which was so magical for me, I only wanted to run and to cry, without giving any kind of explanation to anyone. I was living something too big, too emotional, too much and that I could only dream of. In the car on the way home, I praised heaven and I asked her, “why all of this…for me,” I never actually had the courage to ask for anything. It was all given to me. Physical healing is without a doubt something visible, tangible and truly a great thing, but I recognize more so interior spiritual healing the path of conversion, the serenity and the strength that I now have; it is priceless and it is beyond compare.
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 GRAND. I am living my life more deeply; every single day is a gift. This year I went back to Medjugorje to the Youth Festival, to GIVE THANKS. I am certain that, the day of the tests, Mary was inside of me and different people took notice, telling me so. Many people now say that I have a different light in my eyes… THANK YOU MARY Attached is the article about Elena published by “Medjugorje – Mary’s Presence (Medjugorje – La presenza di Maria).”
Thanks to Daniel for permission to print this.The original version in Italian is available at his site at Guarda Con Me