I lost my wonderful 54-year-old husband, Lou, to a Grade V subarachnoid hemorrhage on July 6, which happened to be our 35th wedding anniversary. I have since found this wonderful website and have been moved by all of the personal stories posted.
On the night of June 27, while watching television, Lou suddenly exclaimed, "I feel like my head just exploded!" Those were the last words he ever spoke. He then slumped over and quickly lost consciousness. I immediately called 911. Lou stopped breathing while in the ambulance, and was intubated. Upon arrival at the emergency ward, I knew it was bad because they took me and my sons to a private room. The ER doctor told us that a CAT scan showed massive bleeding and that Lou was in extremely critical condition. They said he was "posturing" and that one pupil had "blown." The neurosurgeon on duty suggested they send him to Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia, which has a specialized unit that deals in nothing but aneurysms and subarachnoid hemorrhages. We immediately agreed to transfer him.
At Jefferson, the neurosurgeon there agreed with the earlier prognosis and said my husband would probably die before morning. He wanted to know if the family wanted him "kept comfortable" or if we wanted aggressive treatment. There was no decision as far as my sons and I were concerned. Lou was in remarkably good health, was physically fit, ate right, exercised daily, and had a blood cholesterol level of 140. He was an ex-Marine and ex-football player. I knew that if Lou could survive this, no one on earth would work harder at rehab to regain any skills he might have lost. We told the doctor that we wanted him treated aggressively. In fact, my exact words to the neurosurgeon were, "I want him treated the same as if President Bush were in Philadelphia on June 27 and had this aneurysm. I know if it were the President laying in this bed you would treat him ultra-aggressively, and that's how I want my husband treated." He seemed a little surprised by my adamant stance, but agreed to abide by our wishes. And he did.
Lou was operated on within a few hours. An MCA aneurysm in his left hemisphere was clamped, and the blood clot removed. Ventriculoscopy shunts were put into place to remove fluids. Unfortunately, before he could even regain consciousness, his ICP numbers began rising to an alarming rate, causing them to perform another CAT scan. The CAT scan showed another hematoma. My sons and I had just arrived home when the phone rang with the doctor wanting to know whether they should re-operate to remove the blood clot. My two sons got on the extension phones, and together we made the decision to operate again. The doctor made it clear that Lou would definitely die without removing the blood, although he did seem to be leaning in the direction of "doing nothing." "We have to give him every chance possible," my youngest son said.
After re-operating, they placed Lou in a Pentobarbital coma to rest his brain and attempt to get the ICP numbers to come down. For the next eight days, we lived on a roller coaster -- when the ICP numbers came down a few digits, we were ecstatic; when the numbers rose, we were crestfallen. Each day we received a pessimistic report from the neurosurgeon, again telling us that Lou would probably die or live with severe brain damage. It was truly a nightmarish eight days. We prayed day and night for Lou and had many, many other people and churches praying for him also. I even received two saint's relics and brought them to the hospital to place on Lou. I honestly believed he would pull through.
On the eighth day, we received a call from the nurse at 5 a.m., saying that Lou's kidneys were beginning to fail, his blood pressure was dropping and that they believed he was dying. We began getting dressed to make the drive to the hospital and were called back to tell us that he had just passed away. My sons and I were devastated. The doctor said he would keep Lou in his hospital bed until we arrived so we could say goodbye. That was the longest and saddest drive I ever took. In his room, we cried and thanked Lou for being such a wonderful husband and father to us.
It's been a little over two months, and I still can't believe he is gone. There isn't a day I won't miss him for the rest of my life. My heart goes out to all of you on this site who have lost your loved one to this terrible silent killer. Just tonight I heard on the news that Indiana Gov. O'Bannon died today. He had a subarachnoid hemorrhage earlier this week. I knew very little about aneurysms two months ago -- now I feel like I'm ready for an M.D. in the field.
To those of you who have survived an aneurysm -- HURRAY! I am so happy to read all of your stories. They absolutely warm my heart. Do any of you know of anyone who survived a Grade V bleed? And, if so, what deficits were they left with? I would be interested in hearing your stories. Thanks for listening to mine.
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