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Elizabeth Hawkins Elizabeth Hawkins from Atlanta wrote on October 12, 2019 at 3:22 pm:
Hi there. Kinda long, I know, but I DO remember everything - well almost! It was June 15, 1992. I was married with a 5-year-old daughter It was my 30th birthday - my husband and I celebrated a lot. The day after my birthday, I was watching my friend's daughter while she worked. My husband was getting ready to leave town for business. I was on the phone with the cable company and mad as hell - I put my husband on the phone with them and went to the closet where I yanked a big box off the shelf to retrieve a receipt. I was VERY worked up. I was standing up watching my husband talk to them on the phone and all of a sudden I had a feeling of warmth rush over my head. I told him to get off the phone NOW and get me to the hospital. I didn't know what that feeling was - I just knew it didn't bode well. I went downstairs and waited by the car. Finally, I went back upstairs and he was still on the phone. I told him to call 911 immediately, which he finally did. The paramedics said my blood pressure was very high and that everything else checked out. I told them to go ahead and leave - except for a normal headache, I was NOT in any pain. Husband's partner came to the door and said they would be late - husband said what if he leaves and I drop dead? Wow- little did he know. Well, my friend came for her daughter, and my husband was able to leave. She asked me if I wanted a ride to the hospital. You see, I am a hypochondriac and I always had my head buried in medical journals. This time was no different! I kept thinking that, even though my head and neck were starting to hurt, realistically it must be a pinched nerve or pulled muscle from yanking that box down. Deep down I knew this wasn't the case though. I told my friend I was having a "subarachnoid hemorrhage," just to see what her response would be - and she chuckled, knowing me as a serious hypochondriac, and said I had pulled a muscle - but if I wanted to go, I needed to make up my mind because by now it was 7 PM and she had to get home. My intellect took over and I went. On the way there, I told her I was going to have a lumbar puncture (I knew all this because as it was happening, I was reading the medical book) But she still swore that I was crazy and said they would give me pain meds and send me home. By now, the pain is getting worse, but not intolerable. If I would bend my neck and cough it would radiate down my back. When I checked in at the hospital I sat down and started getting drowsy. I went to the triage nurse and told her with every bit of authority I could muster up that my brain was hemorrhaging and that I was about to pass out if they didn't get me seen asap. For some unknown reason they took me seriously and got me right back to the doctor. He gave me a full neuro exam and everything checked out fine! Pupils, balance, etc., everything. He gave me a cat scan and it came back NEGATIVE! He then ordered a spinal tap - for which I couldn't be sedated because of my already compromised consciousness. I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE - that was the most painful thing I had EVER experienced. My friend later told me that she went to the patient advocate to get an update and found out that I was being prepped for a "lumbar puncture." At that point she became worried. After the spinal, they told me that I was going to be admitted. I had "grossly bloody spinal fluid." On the way past the nurses' station, I used the phone to call my mom and let her know. That's when the nurse told me that I was very lucky: the doctor I saw was an intern, and that with all my tests being negative, most doctors would have never ordered a spinal tap - the only test that indicated a problem. I was taken to ICU and my friend left - thankfully agreeing to watch my daughter. I fought sleep all night as I was afraid of dying - by that time I knew my brain was bleeding - only no one knew why. The next morning at shift change, the nurse that was leaving gave me a shot and told me I was going to sleep. I did. A couple of hours later (10 AM or so), I was taken for a cerebral angiogram - a catheter was run from my groin to my brain and dye was injected into each quadrant looking for the source of the bleeding. By the time I arrived back in ICU, a neurosurgeon was waiting for me and told me that I had to have brain surgery for an aneurysm. I asked if I could schedule it for a couple of weeks out. He said it had to be done that day. When I asked him if I would be ok, he couldn't tell me - he told me I could walk out of the hospital and get hit by a truck, there's no way of knowing. What he COULD tell me, was that if I had chosen to NOT go to the hospital and stayed home and gone to bed the night before, I would not have woken up. I would have died in my sleep. The ONLY THING I COULD THINK ABOUT AT THAT POINT was my baby girl. I just knew I would NEVER see her again. I called my friend's office and left her a message - I had indeed had a subarachnoid hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm, and that I had to have surgery - and to PLEASE make sure my baby knows how much I love her. Always. She was at my bedside within 30 minutes! My mother's flight arrived while I was in surgery. I came through ok, no neuro side effects. What I was unaware of was that because I was at great risk of having a stroke within the first 10 days, I was kept in a semi-conscious state so my memories of that time period are fleeting at best. After that, I was put into a regular room. I refused pain meds because I figured that if they had fixed my bleed, I shouldn't be in pain... How crazy was THAT rationale?? Quick follow-up: I found out that I was pregnant with my second child about 4 weeks after leaving the hospital. There were only TWO chances at conception: multiple possibilities before my aneurysm, and ONE possibility after my aneurysm. The problem was that if this child was conceived before my aneurysm, there is no way it could be a viable pregnancy with all the stress on my body and all the drugs used during my hospital stay and surgery. Turns out, my son was conceived 7 days AFTER being released from the hospital. We hadn't planned for another child, but we were blessed with a perfectly healthy baby, and we now have a wonderful 26-year-old son who was obviously meant to be here!

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