Saturday September 9, 2000 was my 29th birthday and the first one without my mother. She passed away on August 2, 2000 from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. It was a complete shock to myself, my dad, my brother and the rest of our family and friends. She was so full of life and kindness. It happened the previous night and we speculate that she had a bad headache and got up to take some Tylenol 3's (since my dad found them on the counter the next morning). On her way back to bed the neurosurgeons think that the aneurysm burst and she passed out at the top of the stairs. She then fell down the stairs where my dad found her the early that morning.
My brother and dad tried frantically to get a hold of me at work but did not have my number. Finally about 4pm that afternoon I got an email from my aunt that simply said "call home immediately". At first I assumed that something had happened to my dad because he had had a few previous stokes or even my grandmother who was nearing 90. I never in a million years expected my dad to answer "mom is gone".
I flew home to Canada from Seattle that night to find out that she was on life support. Basically she was brain dead with 0% chance of recovery but they were keeping her on a respirator because of hospital policy and because she was an organ donor. The next day was the worst of my life. I sat with her for a long time. You expect them to wake up because they are breathing and you can see their chest moving. But when you look into their eyes you know they are not there.
The first few days were full of support from family and friends. It is such a difficult thing to accept that only now, slowly the reality of it is starting to hit me. I have never lost anyone close to me and she was the closest person in my life. We had a great relationship but I wish we had spent more time together. It is also hard on the remaining family. I know I need to concentrate on healing myself but I worry so much about my dad. This had been the first year that he wasn't working and they had started planning their retirement. She was his whole world and it is difficult for him to find purpose now. He knows that he will get through it but I want to help him and I am finding it takes so much energy for me to get through it at times.
The other stories I have read have helped me to understand that she died peacefully and without pain. There is also a lot of comfort in knowing that she helped four other people with her organs. I still have so many unanswered questions about aneurysms. The neurosurgeons did mention that it can be hereditary. I have been diagnosed with migraine headaches (classic migraine, aura and visual disturbances without the severe pain). I have not found a specific cause or treatment that gives me any relief and they have become more frequent in the last three years. I often wonder if it is worth being tested for an aneurysm and what I would do if they found one.
I wish everyone the best of luck in dealing with their recovery. I welcome any comments on similar situations or new information on aneurysms in general. Life is so precious and I have learned to discover what brings me joy and share that joy with others.
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