In 1976, when I was 16 years old, my mother (age 42) suffered a fatal brain aneurysm. It was a traumatic time for our
family. I am the youngest of 3 children. My Mother was divorced,with my brother and I still living at home. At the time,
my brother had just graduated from high school and embarked on an adventure exploring the US with a friend. Having
him away was difficult, but what we were to go through as a family was even tougher. The last we had heard from my
brother was that he was in Colorado; Estes Park to be specific. And then the floods came. Every night, my mother would
watch the coverage of the devastation in Estes, still having not heard from my brother. Was he still there? Was he safe?
Why doesn't he call? We were worried, and had so many questions.
That's when it happened. With a rummage sale planned for the upcoming weekend, Mom had family friends over to
help with preparations. At one point, she had mentioned that she had such a terrible headache. She sat down to take
a small break. At that moment, she passed out. She was rushed to our local hospital and eventually transferred to the
Mayo Clinic in Rochester. At 16, I was frightened and left feeling helpless. For the next 7 days, she remained in a coma.
We would visit, talk with her and hold her hand. Day after day, no response. Meanwhile, still no word from my brother.
Stressed, and not knowing what was happening with our brother, we still had to deal with the deteriorating situation with
my Mom. My father was in the Merchant Marines, so, we all felt pretty helpless. Three teenagers, basically alone, were left
to deal with her medical decisions. The doctors had put upon us one of the most difficult decisions we ever had to make. They could do surgery, removing a portion of her brain, most definately rendering her in a vegitative state. We knew that's not
what our mother wanted. That wasn't life, and we were 100% certain that she wouldn't want to live like that. As painfull as
it was, we made the decision not to do the surgery. We sat. We waited. Uncertainty is so many ways.
On the 9th day, we receive a call from the Red Cross. They had found our brother! Alive and well! Thank God!! They had relayed
to him what was happening back home and advised that he return ASAP. He and his friend had left Colorado and headed to the hospital. We still visited Mom in shifts, talked to her, joked with her, sang with her everyday. Waiting...for any type of response. Nothing. The prognosis was not good. We knew it, we felt it.
It was Fall; early September. At 16, I should have been back to school. Instead, our days were filled with worry, spending all day at the hospital, taking turns with other relatives to visit with Mom when we could. On this particular, bright and sunny day, we were once again sitting in the hospital waiting room to take our turn, when I look up and see my brother! Walking quickly towards us, but looking tired, stressed and thin. After all, he had just been through quite the ordeal too. But on top of all that, he learns about his Mother, barely clinging to life and trying his best to make it home. But, he's safe, and he's home! After briefly filling him in on what has happened and bringing him up to date on her status, of course, he is anxious to see his mother. We all went into the room. To this point, we have tried everything to get some kind of response from our Mother; but nothing. My brother, also feeling defeated and so worried, finally gets to Mom's bedside. He gently puts her hand in his. As tears rolled down his face, he caresses her hand and tells her " Mom, it's me, Randy. I'm here, I'm home. It's gonna be OK". At that moment, he felt a very faint movement! Our Mother, who we've had no response from at all the last 8 days, very lightly squeezed his hand! We couldn't believe it! Could that mean that she is coming back to us?! Our hopes didn't last long...shortly after, our Mother was called home. Her struggle was over.
It took such a long time for our lives to get back to somewhat normal. None of us expected to lose her at such a young age. And we were just kids ourselves. Nevertheless, our Mother raised 3 strong kids. We struggled, but we all survived and all moved on tohave healthy happy lives.
Fast forward to 2004. Allof us 3 kids are grown and married. Since we lost our Mother and became adults, we have all been faithful about annual check ups. My brother and I both inherited my Mom's high blood pressure, so my doctor was mindful of that, as well as the family medical history with my mother. I had started getting alot headaches, and some leg pain. I mentioned that to my doctor at my next visit. Because of the family, medical history, my doctor suggested having an MRA. Approximately a week later,I received the call from my doctor telling me that I had a brain aneurysm! The next week, I went in for consultation with my doctor, who had arranged for immediate admission to a hospital in Mankato, MN. for major surgery, shaving of the head, along with 8-12 weeks of recovery. I was scared. Was I headed for the same fate as my mother? That night, I went home to make arrangements for surgery in Mankato,calling friends and family to inform them. My sister-in-law, who works at Mayo clinic in Rochester, suggested a 2nd opinion. She intended to go to work the following day and talk to a few experts and doctors there. Within 24 hrs., I recieved a call from Dr. Brown, head of neurology at Mayo clinic. He explained to me that they were currently doing a study on the correlation of brain aneurysms among siblings, and wanted to take on my case. Within 1 day, I was at Mayo, talking with a team of doctors, going through tests and listening to their plan of attack for my aneurysm. To make a long story short, Mayo clinic did a coiling procedure on my aneurysm and everything went smoothly. And....I missed 2 days of work! I can't tell you how thankful I am for Dr. Brown, his team, Mayo and all the friends and family that were involved in my diagnosis and helped with treatment plan. I feel so very blessed and fortunate for them, and also for the advancements in medical technology (and even the difference in procedures between hospitals!). My Mother was only 42 when she passed of a brain aneurysm. Another fact that I left out of this long story is that my father also died of a brain aneurysm at age 61! I feel like I've been given a second chance at life. Over the years, I have told this story several times to people that seem to have symptoms, or even just in normal conversations. Since that time, both my siblings have also had testing done to detect aneurysms and have, thankfully been free.