Aldo Romagnoli is a 66 yrs old "boy". He was a foreman at the quality control system in a big Michelin factory, from wich is retired in 1986. Aldo is a good joiner, plumber, electrician, smith, decorator and so on. I'm his son Riccardo (31 yrs old) and I am getting married on next 27 May 2000. I have three sisters older than me and five nephews too.
Oh, What A Bad Bad Headache!
I want to thank Jesse for the helpful correction to my terrible english and for the human support about these terrible days.
6 April 2000
Hello, my name is Riccardo, I'm 31 and I live in Italy. This is the story of my dad's aneurysm (a giant one), which burst without any warning.
At 12:30 p.m., on February, 17th 2000, my dad (aged 66), mom and my younger sister were in my parents kitchen ready to have lunch. My dad was having an appetizer with a bread-stick when suddenly he said "Oh my God, my head, I'm having a stroke…." and he started to fall. Immediately my sister put a chair under my dad but he couldn't sit down, ‘cause he was losing consciousness. My mom touched dad's neck, she found he had no heartbeat and wasn't breathing. Mom started performing CPR and my sister started yelling. Mom told her to call the ambulance, but she couldn't remember the number (she was shocked), so she called our older sister asking her to call the ambulance.
My older sister called immediately 118 (911 in Italy) and (a very good idea) our family doctor. The doctor arrived at my home only 5 minutes after the call; at first he thought dad was having an heart attack, but my mom told him that dad had touched his head, not his chest. Dad kept stopping breathing, so the doctor did CPR again.
Ten minutes afterwards my brother-in-law (husband of my older sister) arrived home, 10 minutes BEFORE the ambulance (he lives 10Km away my home…). The paramedics started ECG, IV and so on, but when they tried to give heparin to my dad (good for heart attacks), my doctor said DON'T GIVE HIM HEPARIN, IT ISN'T A HEART ATTACK! This advice probably saved my dad's life.
My older sister called me at work, telling me what had happened at dad (she told me that dad had had a stroke but he was breathing). I arrived home (my fiancée drove me ‘cause my legs were like jelly) and found dad on the trolley, with the paramedics, my doctor and my brother-in-law around him. As soon as dad's vital signs were good they loaded dad onto the ambulance, driving to the nearest hospital (the biggest in the range of 100 km, too). My younger sister and my brother-in-law followed the ambulance; my fiancée and I embraced mom, who was crying. After an hour, my sister called us from the hospital, saying that dad was alive, was moving arms and leg and was mumbling "oh, what a bad bad headache".
The ER docs ran a CT scan: dad had had a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage, and soon he was put in the neurosurgery ICU. In the evening, the chief neurosurgeon told us that: (1) the hemorrhage was very big; (2) the bleeding had stopped, but could happen again (and dad would die in three minutes); (3) dad had 40% probability of life in the next 24 hours; (4) they could not perform surgery until dad's brain's conditions were better.
In the first week dad was fastened to the bed and heavily sedated. When he was awake he kept asking them to free him and let him go away. After a week dad started to sleep always, even when the sedative was stopped. The chief neurosurgeon told us that the last CT scan showed another bleed and that now if dad survived, he would be in a vegetative state forever.
Two weeks after the aneurysm burst, dad developed lung problems. His mouth was even closed on the left side and his left arm and leg didn't move at all. The doctor confirmed that dad had developed hemiplegia on his left side caused by the vasospasm and the following ischemia. They said that this brain damage may be reversible if some capillaries re-route in the future, but the possibility that this could happen are very low. At this point dad could not feed himself, so a NG feed tube was inserted in his nose. When I was at dad's bedside I read the book that my dad was reading and put some music on that my dad always listen to. In these moments sometimes dad opened his eyes but he didn't look at anything (but both his pupils react to light very well, and when I moved my hand near his face, he closed his eyes).
After another week (three weeks after the first bleed) dad followed a nurse with his eyes: he could see! And my mom could see dad's left arm move from the sheet to his chest! A nurse told my sister that also the left leg moves sometimes. The doctors said that dad was better, and if he kept improving, an angioCT would be done to locate the aneurysm. But a week later dad developed salmonella and was transferred in another hospital, for infectious diseases.
So dad remained in this hospital for a week. During this time the condition of his lungs is getting worse day by day. On 35th day (from 1st bleed) dad's breathing was so bad (because the lungs are full of water) that the doctor told us that dad is near the end. The infective chief doctor asked the neurosurgeon to come and have a look because dad's brain seemed to be having another bleed. Me, my mom and my sister at this time were so angry and frustrated after all this time that dad had kept fighting… this couldn't be "the end"! After a lot of phone calls between infective doctors and neurosurgery doctors, dad went back to neurosurgery (didn't matter if dad still had salmonella) to have another CT.
The CT showed: (1) there isn't any further bleeding; (2) the ischemia was starting to be absorbed. And the neurosurgeon told us that dad is NOT near the end. WOW! But during the night dad's breathing-gurgling was so bad (SPO2 at 60 and BPM at 160!!) that another doctor told my sister that dad was dying.
In the morning dad was still alive, and a chief doctor (who knew my dad when he was ok) recognized my dad and immediately asked to take my dad to the ICU. My dad was intubated and started suddenly to breathe better again. SPO2 rose to 96 and BPM falls to 110.
Now, on 43rd day, my dad has to be trached because the tube inside his throat started to give many problems. Dad had started to look at us, say "yes" and "no" with the head and remains awake for an hour, the time that we can visit our dad, from 6pm to 7pm. Dad is still waiting the angioCT to find where the aneurysm is.
Update 11 Apr 2000
Yesterday (monday morning) the medics told me that my father is ready to have the surgery. The surgery will be done on next Wedneday or Thursday, to clip the giant aneurysm. They told me that the neck of the aneurysm is little enough to clip. Yesterday, on the evening, my dad had written a phrase on a board with a big red pencil. He wanted to tell me that he is very angry. I'm so happy that he can write and move both arms and both legs. His movement skill improve day by day. Please, say a little pray for my dad and all other suffering people around the world.
Update 13 Apr 2000
The surgery tooks ten hours and, after a gruelling battle the doctor succeeded to clip this giant aneurysm (a diameter of 25mm). No complications at all. Tonight dad was in ICU with a lot of bendage over his head. Sometimes he was awake, and he gave me a little kiss when I left the ICU. Many thanks to all the people who have prayed for my dad.
Update 18 May 2000
Yesterday (15 May) he left neurosurgery; now he is in a rehab hospital. He still has hemiplegia on his left side, but when I look at his left arm and leg I notice that he can move more and more.
He remember all his life up until 2 days before the aneurysm ruptured, and maybe today the docs will remove the feeding tube from his nose. They have also scheduled to remove the trach tube and close the tracheotomy hole. He can speak, but I must get close to his mouth to hear clearly what he says.
The nurses put dad on a wheelchair for a longer period every day. He is even joking and keeping a positive attitude. I wish to thank the doctors of the neurosurgery for everything they have done for my dad.
Update 19 July 2000
From three weeks my dad can go at his home once a weeks, on Saturday or Sunday. He is still on wheelchair but his movements are improving a little bit every day. The doctors tell us that dad will walk soon. He can feed himself but only with semisolid food. Last Sunday he tried to eat a pizza !! He had swallow only the soft center of the pizza, but a pizza after 5 months of poor minced food... He can speak clearly and read, look TV...but on the evening, at 9pm he is KO, he start to sleep while we are talking to him. He keep to have a positive attitude to his future and so we do.
Update 17 Dec 2001
My dad is alright, he is doing very little improvements month by month, but he can stand on his feet alone. He cannot walk without help.
Update: 25 July 2006
I'm so sad to tell you that my dear dad passed away peacefully on Tuesday, 11 July 2006, in a sunny afternoon. He die in hospital, after four long months of suffering (1 whole month in ICU), and he fight like a lion. Dad has entered in hospital for a cholecystectomy and something has gone badly.. I'm sure that now he can walk again somewhere in the sky, certainly for protect me and my family in the future.
© Copyright 2000 Riccardo
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