Brain Aneurysm Survivor Stories

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213 entries.
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!
Asia Martin from Saint Louis wrote on October 7, 2019 at 12:05 pm:
Hello! My name is Asia and my experience opened my eyes in many different ways. My experience happened April 5, 2019. It was a normal day so it seemed. I got off work and picked my girls up from my mother. I was fussing at them to get their homework out and get started so that we can get ready for dinner and so on. I was in the middle of changing my then 6 month old on the bed, when I got a pop in my head. I became dizzy and staggered to the hallway. I screamed for my oldest daughter (6 years old). I screamed her name several times because I knew I was going to pass out and might now wake up. My boyfriend at the time was coming in through the door and he caught me as I passed out. When I woke up, the paramedics was asking me if I was able to stand so that I could get onto the stretcher due to the hallway being narrow. I was not able to move any of my limbs. I could hear myself talking in my head but was not able to form words. I finally got some strength to get up unto the stretcher chair. I was transported in an ambulance and I vomited the entire time. My head was banging beyond compare. When I finally got to the ER I just heard that the wait was over two hours. I waited in the waiting room in a wheelchair by myself where I urinated and defecated on myself the entire time. Finally a family member showed up and I was not fully coheriet. I do not remember getting any testing done but I did. There was not an ER doctor at that time. A nurse practictior released me with migraine medicine and my diagnosis was a migraine. I finally got to my mothers house and tried to sleep the headache off, which I did not. The next day, the ER doctor called me demanding that I return to the ER and do not wait because I had a spot on my brain. When I got there, he immediately saw me and said I should not have been released because I had a brain aneurysm and stroke. I would need to go into surgery and get coils place. Terrified much, I got the procedure done. I was in ICU for 3 days and on the stroke floor for 7. Those 10 days was the most painful days of my life. Although, I am grateful to be here today. My plan for next year is to start a local aneurysm walk. I want to educate people. I have lost relative from this and I want a change.
Adriana Herrada from Dalton,Georgia wrote on October 3, 2019 at 11:42 pm:
Hello my name is Adriana I am from a small town in north Georgia my journey started in dec 2017 I wanna described everything but what I’ve been told is all blur for me I all know Is I was working my weekend job on a Sunday night and I started complaining of a headache and From there its has vanished from my memory but l remember coming home on the last week of January and my birthday was on the 6 th of February so grateful that I spend it at home cause a week later it had been several days without sleep and I was just not able to close my eyes I would close my eyes but I couldn’t fall asleep so a Saturday later I happen to feel really dizzy, nauseous ,and that headache that made me vomit all over my small bathroom my family took me into the hospital and after exams and ct scans they said what I was so scared to hear again “it ruptured again” I was rushed to the more advanced hospital and I literally had to learn everything again I left the hospital and my rehabilitation after 3 months
Robin swords from Lorain wrote on September 27, 2019 at 4:33 pm:
August 2012 I had a headache all day, was a cook in a nursing home. Went home, had a nap, had a good rest of the day with my kids. Went to bed at 9, work at 530 am. Woke up at 10 with an indescribable pain. Screamed for my daughter and her best friend. By the time they got to my room, 2 rooms away, I was on the floor covered in puke. They called my mom, she lives 5 minutes away and had just got to her driveway from bringing my 1 son home. She got there and asked if I could get up so she could take me to the hospital, I said I dont even know how I got here. They called an ambulance, my son james got mad and cussed at the screen door. This was Saturday night. Next thing I remember is waking up Monday and seeing my ex husband there with my kids. The next few weeks were a blur, there's alot I dont remember. But after 2 brain surgeries, one opening the head I got to go home. A few months later was my 3rd surgery. Last year I gave birth to a little girl right around the anniversary. Now 7 years later I have 5 kids (4 adults, 1 minor) whom I'm very proud of and 2 year old grandson
Jean from Graham wrote on September 22, 2019 at 12:01 pm:
I had terrific pain behind my right eye start on June of 2017. It would last about 30 mins and subside. This went on for 5 weeks. It did not happen everyday, it would start at night when I was ready to go to sleep. On July 12th my husband was taking be to the doctor with the pain in my eye. I was getting into the car and the most horrible pain I had ever felt, went thru my whole head. I have to say, child birth has nothing on the pain from a brain hemorrhage.We live 18 miles from town and my husband drove me to the doctor. The doctor gave me 2 shots to stop the pain and recommended I go straight to DUKE Hospital for an MRI and CATscan. My husband drove me to DUKE's emergency ward, where after we gave them our paperwork, we were told to take a seat. We were still sitting there after 4 hours and went to the desk to ask how much longer. We were told they could not do an MRI or Catscan. I would have thought they would have told us that when we walked in. I was told all they could do was give me Tylenol, so we left. Monday I called my Doctor and explained he would need to have me set up for an MRI. He said he would not do that and called in a prescription for migraine's, to the pharmacy. The Pharmacist told me I was an addict and to leave his pharmacy. I went back over to the Doctor and he told me to get out. At this point I had very little faith in the medical world. I went to my Chiropractor, he talked with me and asked if he could get an MRI set up for me. I said yes. He called to get an MRI set and they got me an apportionment for the day after and an appointment with the Neurologist for the next day after the MRI. He also called my insurance company and they denied payment on the MRI, said I did not need one. Since when do insurance companies get to make that call. (I took over 9 months to get the BCBS to pay for half of the MRI, after I send them my information from the Doctor Explaining my Brain Hemorrhage, 3 months later, my monthly insurance went from $369.00 a month, to $1014.00 a month. I had to drop my insurance) I went to the outpatient clinic and the Doctor there was great, he prescribed medicine to get my blood pressure down. I had the MRI completed, the next day and they called me within 1 hour and said I had a brain hemorrhage. I saw the Neurologist, the next day. He confirmed the brain hemorrhage and told me I was one of the few, who is still walking and talking and have continued to keep my company running. I have not had a headache since, but continue to take blood pressure medicine. I only take 2 1/2 milligrams now, just as a precaution. I will always be grateful to my Chiropractor, my Neurologist and the out patient doctor in Graham for helping me after, my Doctor, my pharmacy and DUKE turned me way. Most of all I am grateful to GOD for more time to spend with my husband, my sons, grandchildren and last but not least my cat. If you are having horrible pain in one or both of you eyes, see a doctor who cares and wants to help you, get a second doctor to see if your not happy with the first one. I am very grateful for the second chance a life.
Julie from Carrollton wrote on September 21, 2019 at 5:58 pm:
Five years ago this October, I had a ruptured brain aneurysm. I was 52. My husband and I were at a Kenny Loggins concert in a small venue, and I was next in line to meet him. (I'm not a regular concert-goer and I was so excited to meet the guy who had provided the soundtrack of my life). In front of me was our friend, a gastrointerologist. As I watched them talking, I experienced the horrible headache that so many have mentioned. I became weak and my knees started to buckle. My husband caught me and steered me over to a seat. Someone brought me a Coca Cola. I was woosey but still communicating. Kenny Loggins watching from afar and I remember wondering what he was thinking: did he think I was some drunk fan?. My husband and I talked with our Doc friend and decided since we were with 2 miles of a hospital that we would go on in. He called ahead and they were waiting for me. (He later said he thought it was just a precaution: docs look for the normal, they don't rush to drastic conclusions). I opened the passenger door of the car at the ER and once again I crumbled and the hospital staff met me and ushered me in. The ER doc immediately did a CT scan and confirmed bleeding on the brain. My husband and I were trying to grasp what was going on - the fact that this was serious was sinking in. He was having a hard time processing the information. Like so many, we had no idea what we were dealing with. I told him where all the "important" papers were at my office, including my will. The hospital tried to set up a life flight to Atlanta, but the weather was bad and they were grounded, so they called in an ambulance. I had an experienced crew, another lucky break. They instructed my husband to follow in the car and they stayed in touch with him during the trip. I was still conscious and remember the sounds and lights as we rushed past in the dark. I also remember their calm, strong voices as they worked on me and monitored my condition. I was still conscious when we arrived at the large urban hospital and then I checked out. Later I found that we had another stroke of luck: the doc who did my surgery was renowned in this area of medicine, he had been consulted by Grey's Anatomy and shadowed by an actor - if you watch the first season, the first emergency is a subarachnoid hemorrage. My surgery was what I would call a success since I'm still here. I had a ruptured aneurysm, one that had not yet ruptured, and one where the aneurysm had joined to another vessel. All were clipped. When I became woke up after the surgery, with all the bells, whistles and gadgets hooked up to me, I remember my husband's saying "you're ok, you're going to be ok". That was enough. So here I am, five years later and yes, I am ok - different - but ok. The recovery is a whole other story, but that is for another day. I'm just glad that after five years, I found a place, where there is someone like me; and that there is growing awareness, which will perhaps some day lead to prevention.
Mary Ann Gaida from Clarkston wrote on September 21, 2019 at 4:28 pm:
Hello Everyone, Yes I am a walking miracle. Thank the Lord. On January 12, 2013 my husband and I decided to return a recliner to the store because it did not fit with our décor. We both carried it to our car and struggled to put it in back of our car. After that I suddenly got a terrible headache. It felt like my head was a football on fire in the back. I went back into the house and put my hands under my chin and told my husband to call 911. As I waited, I thought did I jump the gun. They took me all the way to Beaumont in Troy, Michigan. I live in Clarkston Michigan. There I laid for 6 hours. Throwing up and miserable. I guess they assumed I had a bad neck strain and the flu was going around so this is probably what they assumed. My daughter who lived in Chicago told them by phone that my brother dyed of a Brain Aneurysm and they said they couldn't talk to her. I screamed for a doctor but to no avail. That's all I remember but they finally gave me more tests I was told and they took me by ambulance to Beaumont in Royal Oak, Michigan. None of this I remember because they put me out. The next time I awoke they told me I had a ruptured brain aneurysm. I stayed in the hospital for 10 days and here I am today. I am so lucky to be alive. I have lost a lot of memory from the past, but who knows it could be old age. I am 69. lol The one thing I tell everyone, listen to your BODY!! Also, I lost a brother at the age of 58 of a Brain aneurysm and his 40 year old son had one and he had the clipping. I had the coiling from Dr. Mick at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital. He is GREAT. I really do BELIEVE that this is Genetic. So if someone in your family had one you should be checked out with a MRA. I get one every year for a follow up. As of now I am doing good, but next week I will have my yearly MRA so we will see. I hope by telling my story this will help someone out there. AMEN.
Barbara Harmon from Elkhorn wrote on September 21, 2019 at 3:18 pm:
My grandson had an aneurysm that burst in his brain when he was 8 years old. He spent 6 months in the hospital, had part of his skull removed to relieve the pressure on his brain and a shunt put in to drain excess fluid. He is now 11, and he recently had the shunt removed which they replaced with medication. He still has very little mobility and cannot speak. We knew nothing about brain aneurysms before this happened to him. Thank you for bringing awareness about this condition to the world. I wonder how many others had children as young as my grandson that this has happened to. My son and daughter-in-law are doing an awesome job caring for him and we wish we could do more but we live quite a distance away. We pray every day that our grandson could be restored to the smart, lively, independent boy that he was. Right now he is such a trooper and has to endure so much as a result of his condition. I believe it is his strong fighting spirit and the love and care of his parents and God ‘s grace that keeps him going.
Lon Tinney from Santa Monica wrote on September 21, 2019 at 3:06 pm:
I read through a number of stories from survivors and noticed the common thread of wanting to help others avoid or be aware of stroke symptoms before they become a reality. Without a long story Blood Pressure plays a key role in these stories. I was told 130/135 was normal which they now know is 120 to be normal. I came home from work and it was just another typical demanding day. I spent some time with my wife and before retiring i got up for one more bathroom call and everything went out as I went unconscious and fell. I tried to get up, I called out to my wife and she tried to help me up but my core strength was gone and i couldn't get up. Little did i know the aneurysm had occurred. But then I drooled and I knew immediately i had had a stroke because my father had three strokes and drooled. The last stroke for him proved fatal. My wife called 911. I was taken to UCLA in westwood , fortunately for me thats the number one facility for a stroke attack. My left side failed fully including my left lung. A massive stroke, and an emergency tracheotomy and a stomach tube and into an induced coma so the brain could reabsorb the blood as the bleed was more central in my brain, not an easy operation. Coming out of the coma i couldn't talk or use my left side totally bedridden. That was the start of whats become a four year journey.. But the odds of not making it were 60/40 so im ahead so to say. But i wouldnt wish this on anyone. So pay attention to your blood pressure and keep your blood vessels as clean as you can. LonTinney
Samantha from Sunnyvale wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:45 pm:
I am a mother of 4 boys. At the time of my aneurysm my oldest was 9 and my youngest was 1. I spent the day of my aneurysm at my babysitters graduation. I had driven her family an hour to the graduation and back. I had never met them before and couldn’t pick them out now. It was at the dinner that my husband said my eyes rolled back into my head and I fell out of the chair. I remember nothing except my nightmare about missing my sons 5th grade promotion. I was kept in a coma for a couple of weeks. From mid May to mid June 2011 I was in the ICU. I moved to rehab right before July 4. I went home in August. Life has been quite a challenge. I have right side weakness. I can no longer run. I just learned about neurofatigue which explains some things for me. I am so grateful that I have been here for my boys. I’m sad that my abilities were diminished so I could not do as much as I would have liked but the alternative was much worse. My oldest is now 18 and my youngest is 10. Thank God I survived!
Christina CONTANT from Corona Del Mar wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:43 pm:
FYI. Check this website; HHT.org It is a vascular disease. .(50/50chance to pass on) HHT HAS MANY CENTERS OF SPECIALTY AROUND THE COUNTRY AND I URGE EVERYONE WITH AN AFFECTED RELATIVE, TO GET TESTED AT ONE OF THIS CENTERS.. PLEASE LOOK FOR THE NEAREST CENTER..... GO TO: ”HHT.ORG” I HAD AN ANEURYSM THAT RUPTURED AND MY SON AT AGE 6YRS HAD A HEMORRHAGE. We are both lucky to be here and healthy. Now we are very active members in HHT. I DO NOT KNOW WHICH OF MY RELATIVES HAD HHT... BUT IT COULD SHOW AS LITTLE SIGN AS MIGRAINES...Your organization is a blessing. HOWEVER, SOME AFFECTED PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE HHT AND NEED FUTHER TREATMENTS.....AVM’S NEED TREATMENTS since they show up in other organs and can get treated if getting to an HHT Center. Best wishes!
Stephen Richards from Coatesville wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:35 pm:
My story is nothing short of a miracle. On June 24, 2013, as I left the shower I experienced what I would called a severe and unique headache and laid my head on the floor. If I were home alone, I suspect I would have simply laid down and died. Fortunately, my wife saw something very wrong in my eyes and called an ambulance. I had no memory after my head on the floor until the rehab. My blood clotted which was a good thing if I got to a hospital quickly which I did. A day earlier I was on business in CT and would have simply gone back to my hotel room and died. I have to believe this was Devine intervention. I was in the ICU for a couple of weeks without moving. I did go back and thank everyone who helped me in ICU but unfortunately I did not remember a face. When I questioned my psychologist that I might have thought I could not handle this and caused my loss of memory. His response was that I just short-circuited. Bottom line, my wife saved my life that day. Unfortunately, we have brilliant neurosurgeons, but I receive very little info as to the cause. It was proposed to be smoking and possibly hereditary. Needless to say, I no longer smoke, but because my father had experienced multiple strokes that no one knew about, I believe the heredity issue is more the cause. Both my children have been checked and neither of them have any signs of an aneurysm. To conclude, I can only believe God left me live for a reason
Scott Shepard from Cocoa Beach, FL wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm:
Scott Shepard Cocoa Beach, FL Brain Aneurysm------Age 15 I was out surfing in Ocean City Maryland and without any notice, I had a brain aneurysm. I almost drowned but was put out to the beach where I was transported to the local hospital. I was then helicoptered to Walter Reed Army Hospital (stepfather was a retired Lt. Col) and tested. Amazing that one of the best neurosurgeons in the world just so happen to be stationed at Walter Reed. He transferred two weeks after he had operated on me. My mother was told that because the aneurysm was in the lower stem of the brain (vital organ section), my chance of living was 1 in 100 and "if" I survived, I would be a vegetable. Nine months later I was surfing again and still surf today at age 65. I have been married for 43 years, have three daughters and five grandsons. Only by the Grace and Mercy of God and I here today to write this. Scott Shepard.
Debbie from St Peters, Mo wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:06 pm:
At age 28 I lost my mom, Sue, who was 49 years old to a brain aneurysm. She was fine, then she wasn't, then she was on life support. 8 hours later the family was saying goodbye. It's shocking to me even 29 years later how healthy she was and how fast she was gone from us. My son had just turned 1. Thank you for making others aware of the signs. Although I can still hear my mom's voice in my head I would've loved to share life on earth with her much longer.
Joan Nokan wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm:
It was Easter Sunday morning and my sister was visiting my mother. She got out of bed, was nauseated and passed out on the floor. That Friday she had told a coworker she felt poorly, like "life was draining out of her". EMS was called and she was transported to the ER. She was intubated to maintain her airway and remained like that until all family was at her side. She was extubated and passed shortly after that.
Laura Sherlock from Johnston wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:03 pm:
I am so sorry that Lisa passed away. At the age of 23, I had a brain aneurysm. I was somewhat aware of this as in my family my mother and aunt had them. I agree that it was the worst headache in the world. I had 1st surgery with a Silverstone clamp being put in my brain unfortunately it leaked, so the 2nd surgery was to put a clamp in my neck. That was in the spring of 1979. I recovered wonderfully. And have had a great life since
Laura scarfo from Mooresville wrote on September 21, 2019 at 2:03 pm:
Just wanted to write a little something my mom died at 57 of a brain Aneurysm.my sister decided to have a test on her 57th birthday and was also diagnosed with a brain aneurysm! I had the time was 55 and she said we needed to be tested because we were family and it was hereditary. So at age 55 I was also diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. My sister had a stent put in, and I had a coil put in. The odds of me getting another one a very slim same for my sister. I urge everyone that has a family member with an aneurysm to get checked it’s an x-ray. It’s not worth falling down and losing your life when it’s preventable. I do not know that I have anything in my head I do not have any side effects. I am just blessed that my sister decided to do this. I urge anyone to have the test!
Lunda from Lisle wrote on September 21, 2019 at 1:58 pm:
No symptoms but family history MRI found two small ones. Had coiling for each one and am not free of them
Rebecca from Cleveland Ohio wrote on July 7, 2019 at 10:49 pm:
On 4-21-17, I took my son to get X-rays. I was 37 years old. I’d had a bad headache the night before. I’ve had bad headaches most of my adult life. I’d had MRIs and neuro exams and nothing was ever found. I had no reason to suspect this was any different I started to feel funny during the x-rays, and felt a headache coming on suddenly. The headache started off as mild and quickly escalated. I wanted to get home to take some Aleve and lie down before work. I somehow managed to drive home as the headache and nausea increased. I got my son and I both inside. I went upstairs, took some Aleve, and fell down. The headache suddenly had become this demon of a thing that was easily the worst headache of my life. I threw up, and knew I was in some sort of crisis. I screamed for the babysitter who was able to call 911. She told them what I told her--that I thought I was having a stroke. I told her I was dying, to tell my family I loved them, and asked her to hold my hand. She told me I wasn't going to die, and cried along with me. I truly believed my number was up. She saved my life by being there and by calling 911. I am also grateful I wasn’t alone in what I thought were my final moments on this earth. It was lights out for me after that and the next 5-7 days have been pieced together by family and friends. I learned a few things after I woke up and got my bearings. 1) the headache I experienced is called a "thunderclap headache." After having it, the description seems perfect in a horrible way. 2) I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) that was caused. Y an enormous aneurysm on my basilar artery. It was 1.5 cm. 3) For some reason, the hemorrhage stopped bleeding on its own before I made it into surgery. This is the only reason I'm alive and no one can explain why it happened. 4) 40% of people who suffer from SAH die before they reach the hospital. 5) 60% of those who survive have major deficits such as difficulty walking, talking, or performing their activities of daily living. 6) Other than being female, I have no risk factors for having an SAH. 7) An MRI I had done 7 years earlier showed no sign of the monster aneurysm. 8) This type of thing is potentially genetic. So now I get to worry about my immediate family having one, too. The ambulance arrived and apparently assumed this suburban mother of 4 was a heroin addict and gave me Narcan X 2 doses. This is the world we live in now. When I didn't respond, they loaded me up and took me to the nearby hospital (where I just was, getting X-rays for my son). A CT scan showed the enormous bleeding aneurysm. Some of my family made it to the hospital to see me very quickly before I was life flighted to the downtown main campus of the Cleveland Clinic. They told me I was awake and responding to them. I have no memory of any of this. I had emergency surgery to put platinum coils in the aneurysm to stop it from bleeding further. The next thing I remember, I woke up in the ICU a few days later with a tube in my throat and a severe headache. I had tubes everywhere. I had a Swan-Ganz catheter, and later, a PICC line. I had a drain coming out of my head called an EVD that drained my CSF and the blood from the aneurysm. I panicked with the tube down my throat. The worst part of the ICU easily was being awake and aware of being intubated and enduring deep endotrachial suctioning while alert. I begged to be sedated, for more pain meds. I chicken scratched on paper asking for drugs by name, asking for my fentanyl drip to be turned up. Every time, I was told I needed to be awake so my hourly neuro exam could be completed. It was hell. My first neuro exam that I remember, they shined a flashlight in my eyes and I felt my eyes going every which way. I was unable to focus. Everything was blurry and double. I saw concern in the doc's face and knew this meant nothing good. I had this symptom for months. I had to wear an eye patch and alternate eyes every two hours so I could see. I learned I had been extubated a few days earlier but had to be re-intubated immediately due to flash pulmonary edema. I also developed stress cardiomyopathy and my ejection fraction went into the 40's. I was started on intrathecal milrinone. I was told I'd still need to have 1-2 stents placed in the aneurysm. Everything was terrifying. The ventricles in my brain weren't reabsorbing the blood and the CSF. If that continued, I'd need a shunt. I had vasospasms which increased all my symptoms: confusion, headache, blurred vision, nausea. The neurosurgeon went back into the aneurysm and injected it with verapamil to try to stop the vasospasms. Eventually, they stopped. On 5-18 I received my shunt after CT scan showed my ventricles were still enlarged and I was too dependent on the EVD. I have a small scar on the back of my head and one in my abdomen from the shunt, which is permanent. I started physical therapy the next day. I had been in bed, not moving, for almost a month. They came every day, got me to slowly move my legs and neck around. Eventually they got me out of bed and to a chair. The fact that I could talk and walk meant that most of my neurological faculties were intact. Given the size of the aneurysm, this was incredible. Eventually I was moved from the ICU to a stepdown unit. Then, I was moved to a rehab facility where I spent the last three weeks. I had PT, OT, and speech therapy daily, most often, twice daily, where I worked hard to rid myself of the walker, and work on balance and endurance. In speech therapy, I worked on memory, word recall, problem solving, and even math. During this time, my husband took off work to take care of our brood of children. He had help, as we always do, and they all did a magnificent job, as we always strive to do. I eventually went home and continued my care as an outpatient. I got my stent placed about 2.5 months after my aneurysm rupture. The headaches were constant and relentless at first. I always had a dull throb in my forehead and temples. This sometimes escalates to a full on pounding without warning. Sometimes it feels like Michael Myers is stabbing me on top of my head over and over again. What no one talks about, at least that I’ve seen, is the profound effect strokes have on one’s mental health. I have anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I have this misunderstood thing called neurofatigue. There was a psychologist at my rehab facility, but she didn’t do much for me other than recommend I see someone when I was discharged. This area is one where the hospital systems need to improve. We need more mental health support for our stroke survivors.
Jesus Torruella from Oldbridge NJ wrote on June 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm:
Hi my name is Jesus Torruella. On June 6,2016 @ 11:35PM as we were getting ready for bed my wife began to ask me about something when I said to her hold babe my head is hurting. I remember the time as I had looked at the clock to see how late it was. All of a sudden I placed my hands over my ears as my head felt as if were about to explode. No sound just pain and I was gone, everything went dark and no sounds I was gone. But as it was told me weeks later I was out for three minutes vomited never opening my eyes yet was complaining about my head exploding and the lights were hurting my eyes. I only remembered waking up thirty six hours later in a dark room with a tube coming out of my head. It’s been three years now I had to retire as the systems were debilitating. I had no physical disability except when I would have involuntary muscle spasms. But that soon changed to sudobolbar type bouts. Then there was the loosing of my concession surrounding. Or I would suddenly start to loose the ability to breathe. Seizures and it would all manifest into something different; inability to speak eyes open hearing everyone as I go through one of my many and yet I can’t move speak and my breath is slipping away. I’ve been to many neurologist here and in NY and they were honest and said we haven’t studied many survivors to honestly say we know what’s going on. I accepted the fact I survived that I was blessed. My Surgen told me after my first follow up visit that he didn’t want to sound cruel or rude but that I literally shouldn’t have survived. That I did so by the grace of god. I believe him. Praise be to almighty God 🙏. To end this story we may not know exactly what or how long symptom will last but with your foundation and hopefully others we will one day prevent and diagnose aneurysm before they form. My was a subarachnoid aneurism