My name is Jami Alby and this is a picture of myself and my mother, Kimberly Diane Stensgard. Not a day goes by that I don't think about my mom and relive the trauma of her illness and death. She was a very special lady, and was loved by everyone she knew. My parents raised me in Minnesota, but currently live in Tucson, Arizona. My husband, Ryan, is in the Air Force and we are stationed at Davis- Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. I am in the process of finishing nursing school and am also a stay-at-home mom. We have 3 children: Chloe, 5; Canaan, 2; and Gavin 1. We are hoping to be able to move closer to home soon to be near our families and especially my father.
That Sunday evening was as normal as could be. My 2 year old daughter and I had dinner with my parents while my husband was at work. We visited, and then I left for home. About an hour later, I got a call from one of my friends saying that she had just heard a 911 emergency call over her scanner from my parent's address about a woman unconscious and seizing. I called my parent's house and got no answer, then I called my uncle (who lives around the corner from them) and asked him to go check the house. My aunt came on the phone after a few minutes and said she could see an ambulance and police cars at the house. I hung up and panicked!! Called my husband, who raced home, and we left for the hospital. We only lived about 15 blocks away, so we beat the ambulance there. I will never be able to hear an ambulance siren again and not think about that night.
My mother arrived at hospital awake, but having great difficulty speaking. She cried and said that her head hurt horribly, and that she was going to die, which scared me even more. The doctor told us that they expected that she had a brain bleed, but she would need further tests done. Around midnight they took her for an angiogram, which showed that she had a ruptured aneurysm in the right frontal lobe, and she would need immediate surgery. We had a few moments with her before they took her upstairs. We had a small prayer and she said that whatever happened, she was ready. It is a consolation to me now to know that she was ready to meet God, and was not afraid.
The surgery lasted about 7 hours, the longest hours of my life. In recovery, she was able to squeeze our hands when we asked her questions, but her blood pressure would skyrocket. The nurses said that she wasn't in pain, but was agitated from our talking to her so we should try to stay quiet. That's a very hard thing to do when you have so many things to say. They said she could also move all her extremities except her left leg, which was good.
She made it through the majority of the day without problems, but late in the afternoon her brain pressures went up, so they took her back to surgery and put in a shunt. After that surgery she was heavily sedated and couldn't squeeze our hands anymore. I said that I would stay at the hospital through the night, and everyone else should go home and get some rest. I dozed on the couch in the waiting room, but was awakened by a nurse around 12:30a.m. She said that the doctor needed to speak to me and that I should call my father back to the hospital. It took about 20 minutes for our family to get back. They ushered my father, my aunt and I into a small ICU room, and her neurologist explained to us that my mother had suffered a massive stroke around midnight, and that they felt that she was most likely brain dead. News I will never forget.
Towards morning as more and more family and friends began to gather, the doctors ran tests to check for viable brain function and found none. My darling mother had gone to meet God. They said that we would have to take her off life-support whenever we were ready to. At around 2:00 that afternoon after everyone had seen her and said their goodbyes, My husband, my uncle, and our pastor watched as the machines were shut off. I had never seen someone die, and it was scary. But I knew as we watched that the body in that bed was only the shell of my mother. The woman that I loved was gone, to a better place, and was not suffering anymore. Kimberly Diane Stensgard died on March 16, 1999 at the age of 44.
To anyone that has had a parent die, no matter at what age, it is a life changing experience. At the age of 21, I was now a motherless daughter. Today, I have three children. Two of them have never known their grandma, and it fills me with sadness. I show them all her pictures, and tell them how proud she would be of them. My father, age 50, is getting by. As we both say, some days are better than others. People keep telling him that he should try to get "out there" again, but he says he isn't ready. He says a friend would be okay, but they will never be like mom.
For those of you that have posted stories on this website, we shared a common bond. It is good to read the stories of others, both happy and sad. It helps to know that we are not alone. For those of you reading these stories out of curiosity, please never ignore the warning signs of aneurysms. Thank you for reading my story.
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