As an RN, most recently working as a MICU/CCU nurse, I have been on both sides of the bedpan lately. On Nov. 8, 1996, while visiting Boston for a weekend getaway, I suffered a cerebral aneurysm of the posterior communicating artery. One minute I was there, the next I was in the ER of New England Medical Center (the teaching hospital for Tufts University Med School). Fortunately, I was with a friend who knew CPR, which was needed when I had a minute long seizure and then stopped breathing. Boston's EMS was superb in getting me to the ER in just over 30 minutes.
The ER staff was superb, and I don't think anyone (myself included) suspected an aneurysm right away. I could talk intelligently, move all extremities, passed all the usual neuro tests, etc. I did start to complain about a stiff neck and onset of "the worst headache of my life." So, the neuro resident was called in and ordered a CT. He found a brain full of sub-arachnoid bleeding, and the neurosurgeon was paged.
Thankfully, I don't remember the arteriogram or much else about the ensuing hours. I actually had two aneurysms, one ruptured and the other intact. The surgery, a left craniotomy, was done around 6 p.m. the following day. Only the ruptured aneurysm was clipped. The other was left alone, as it was hard to reach in the left internal carotid sinus cavity. I survived the 5+ hours of surgery and went on to the neuro ICU.
In fact, I called my parents in South Carolina from the ICU the next day and they were shocked to hear me speaking so clearly. My mother's father had died at the age of 41 from a cerebral aneurysm, and I am 43, so perhaps there was a family predisposition. I have never suffered from migraines, although my son, now 23, had had cluster headaches when he was younger.
After 10 days in the hospital with the "3-H" therapy and a "miraculous" recovery, I flew home to Charlotte, NC. Then, my troubles really began: within 48 hrs, I was back in the hospital with aseptic meningitis, increased intercranial pressure from hydrocephalus, and then a stroke in the left parietal lobe. My speech, which was quite garbled, has cleared up some but I am still having problems with it. My concentration is very poor, short-term memory problems, a chronic headache with shooting pains in the back of my head, poor sleep and appetite, and little mental or physical stamina. I just got off of Decadron (finally) a few days ago and still on Dilantin.
I have read all of the various narratives and wonder how long I will continue to feel so crummy. My new job, which started in July with a major hospital information systems company, involves a lot of travel, a lot of technical knowledge, and a public position dealing with our customers. I am concerned that I won't be able to do the job...
To those who wrote narratives about friends and family who did not survive the ordeal, my heart is with you. For me, surviving this is a different kind of loss that I need to understand.
If anyone has any words of encouragement, I would welcome them. I have not been able to find a support group dealing with this in Charlotte. I just moved here in mid-September, so I have not had time to meet people here. The worst part right now is being house bound, not able to drive or get out. I don't anticipate getting back to work until March 1st, which seems like a very long time. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me and may 1997 be a better year for everyone.