First, I would like to start off with asking if you believe in Christmas miracles? I always believed that was some superstitious saying, up till 2 years ago when our family received the biggest miracle ever. With full permission from my sister in law Jennie, I’m going to tell you her story how she became our miracle, our 1 in 50! Before going into our story, I would like to give a little information about brain aneurysms, symptoms you do not want to ignore, and hopefully it will help others.
Brain aneurysm is a bulging weak area in the wall of the artery that supplies to the brain, most cases they cause no symptoms and go unnoticed. In rare cases, the aneurysm ruptures, releasing blood into the skull causing a stroke, depending on the severity can cause brain damage or death. Family history, smoking, high blood pressure, gender, and previous aneurysms are risk factors; although there’s typically no symptoms and may be discovered during tests for another, usually unrelated conditions. Once ruptured, person may suffer from severe headaches, blurred vision, changes in speech, and possible neck pain.
On Christmas Eve two years ago, I get the call from my mother that my brother took his wife, Jennie, to the hospital and she didn’t know why at that moment, I’m thinking they just celebrated with her family, could be food related, or gallbladder. My mother calls back a while later to let me know Jennie had a brain bleed, she became 1 in 50 that had an aneurysm rupture. Jennie was only 39 years old at that time, never smoked or drank, she was true definition of healthy, how did this happen to her? My heart sank for her, my niece and nephew, and especially for my brother..we had watch our father suffer a stroke, and he did pass away from that about 5 years after his first stroke. Not knowing the severity of this yet, I couldn’t imagine what they were all going through, it was Christmas Eve, it’s suppose to be a joyous moment for all.
The rest of this story comes from Jennie’s words, I wanted to share it from her experience, a survivor’s story. Before the rupture, Jennie has been going to the doctors since October 2015 for back, leg, and stomach pains,her legs were constantly going numb and hurting, her lower back was also constantly causing pain as well, and with the pain also associated with her stomach, doctor ordered a colonoscopy, her father passed away from cancer, which started in his colon, so it was important they look into that. All results came back negative, so the doctor thought it could be from ovaries, so she went to see the OB/GYN for that, they didn’t think it was from ovaries, but ordered ultrasound just to be sure, that was scheduled for the week after Christmas. The pain still existing in her legs, back, and stomach, but the headaches started to come on, she associated that being job related. One morning, she woke up with a stiff neck that lasted for a few days, but chalked it up that she must’ve slept wrong, not putting anything together.
On that night, Jennie was in the basement and felt like she was going to pass out and her head felt like it was on fire, she made it to the chair and called out for my brother, who grabbed her coat and shoes and made her go to hospital. In true Jennie fashion, she wanted to wait since the kids were upstairs putting on their Christmas pj’s and didn’t want to stop their family Christmas eve tradition, but my brother knew she had to go immediately. She arrived at the first hospital where they found the bleed, then she was transferred to another hospital for the surgery, they attempted to insert the coils (Endovascular coiling) into the aneurysm, but it was carrot shaped and in the interior communicating artery, and they couldn’t complete the surgery. They transferred her to a third hospital for a craniotomy, they would’ve had to cut open her skull and clip the aneurysm.
The chief of Neuro surgery just happened to be on call that Christmas day, he told my brother that he was going to attempt the coiling again, if not then he would go right into the craniotomy but was not going to tell him which he did until after he was finished. Thankfully he was able to do the coiling successfully. Jennie was our Christmas miracle that year, she spent 16 days in Neuro ICU, had to learn some motor movement over again, but she survived!! The first year after the aneurysm she had a MRI every 6 months to monitor, she had some extra due to headaches, she just recently had her 2nd year MRI, also a little early due to the headaches, some headaches lasting up to 18 days, the next option for is the nerve block in her forehead. Jennie is also on blood pressure medication due to it being elevated, but mainly because high blood pressure causes aneurysms. Luckily, she has no major deficits besides the headaches, especially when there’s barometric changes like the rain, she has some memory loss, but I honestly don’t think she does, she’s still sharp as a tack…even with all of that, the major thing is she survived, our 1 in 50 is alive.
As with any experience like this, our tightknit family became tighter, our bond is stronger. While, Jennie was in the hospital I began texting her every morning sunshine, just to let her know I was thinking of her even when I couldn’t be there with her. It’s been two years, and I still text her every day, I may have missed some when things were busy, but those were turned into Good afternoon texts, and when I’m sleeping in or maybe Jennie becomes impatient waiting for my text, she will text me first lol.
I really do hope those reading her story takes something from this, either it will be the warning signs, the importance of going to the doctor even when you feel off, or just reaching out and telling your loved ones that you will be there, because as we know tomorrow isn’t promised, those little things can wait, those fights aren’t worth it. And to you Jennie, thank you for coming into our family over 25 years ago, bringing in that extra little something we were missing, thank you for not dying that night, thank you for having the strength of not giving up, we know it has been a rough road you had to travel since then, and thank you for being all of ours Christmas present that year, we love you.
Jennie and her mom crocheting slippers, since she wasn’t able to go anywhere, her mom had her hold the yarn 🙂