Friday, June 28, 2013

You never know when your time will be up (Guest Post)

In 2011 I received some "Good Luck" wishes from a man named Mike (theBrainrunner) on Twitter.  I didn't know Mike, but we shared something in common... routine MRI's of the brain.  In 2008 Mike had a Brain Aneurysm that ruptured and today he is here to share his story.
Mike and his beautiful family
 You never know when your time will be up.
The day was November 3rd 2008, as I sat at the breakfast table eating Frankenberry cereal with my kids, and preparing to go to work.  I finished my cereal and got up to go get in the shower. As I was attempting to get clean, the walls began to get fuzzy and hazy.  The next thing I remember was my wife trying to pull me up out of the shower. Evidently I had fainted. I remember being extremely cold and my head was throbbing like no other headache I’ve ever had. Somehow she managed to get me to the bed where she put some clothes on me.  She suggested that we go to the hospital because it wasn’t common for me to pass-out. I argued with her, but in the end she won out and called the paramedics without me knowing.
Somehow I ended up on the couch downstairs, not really knowing how I got there I thought to myself that maybe it was a good thing she called the paramedics. Somewhere in the fog that was my thought process I instructed her to call my work and let them know that I would be late. Her response was that she already did and told them I wouldn’t be in today at all. I work retail so this time of year is extremely busy and hectic and the thought of me not being there made me disappointed in myself. 
Approximately 15% of patients with aneurismal subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) die before reaching the hospital. Most of the deaths from subarachnoid hemorrhage are due to rapid and massive brain injury from the initial bleeding which is not correctable by medical and surgical interventions. 
Once the paramedics arrived, I vaguely remember them asking all kinds of questions but the only one I really remember was when they asked me what I had taken. My response was “I don’t do that shit, I didn’t take anything.”  Then I was on a gurney being wheeled outside to the ambulance. Wow! The Sun was bright. It hurt my eyes and my head. I remember seeing my neighbors outside looking at me being loaded up in the ambulance and was embarased. On the ride to the hospital I was strangely aware of the turns and knew which hospital we were going to. My wife was up front, I think. I was in back strapped down to the gurney. I don’t remember the persons face who was in the back with me but I do remember them asking again “Ok, no one can hear but me, what did you take?” Annoyed and in pain I lashed out stating “I told you before, I don’t do that shit, I didn’t take anything” To me I yelled but later my wife told me she didn’t hear me say anything.I’ve heard stories of people having near death experiences and being able to see what’s happening as though they are a bystander. I always thought it was an odd statement, but I remember arriving at the hospital and as I was being wheeled through the corridors watching as though I was an onlooker and not really myself. Once in a room which seemed excessively small I told the nurse that I felt sick and she handed me one of those little nausea pans. I told her it wasn’t big enough and that I needed a bucket. She gave me something bigger and I immediately started throwing up.
Time from that point forward became very spotty, and I’m not sure how long it was before I was being told that I had a Brain Aneurysm that had ruptured. Evidently they had performed a scan of some kind on my head to determine this, but I don’t remember having it done.   
There is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes. Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases. 
Wow! The Sun is bright! Why was I outside? A Helicopter? I was being loaded into a helicopter to be transported to another hospital that could deal with my condition better. I remember the lift off, and being able to see the hospital below. 
I evidently arrived at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after a very expensive flight and was put in a Neuro-Critical Care room, and was promptly sedated.
My wife tells me that I was adamant about voting the following day and evidently she did what she could to allow me to do this. However, you need to be registered some time in advance to vote from the hospital, which I wasn’t. Until my surgery which happened on November 6th, I recall very little. But evidently I had plenty of visitors, families, friends and people I’d not seen in a long time. Tammy (my wife) slept at the hospital many nights as the doctors were waiting for the swelling in my brain to subside enough for the surgery to be performed. The only real thing I remember of those three days was right before I went into surgery. I saw Tammy with her beautiful face right next to mine as I was being wheeled into the elevator prior to surgery. I remember having a moment of clarity where I gave her instructions on what to do in the event that I didn’t make it through the surgery successfully. Then I was out.
The next thing I remember was waking up on Sunday, 6 days after the rupture, and watching bits and pieces of the Colts and Steelers game on the television. However, I can’t even tell you if my Colts won or not. 
Of those who survive, about 66% suffer some permanent neurological deficit. 
 I spent a total of two weeks in the hospital recovering. I eventually was able to get out of bed and walk the halls with the help of Tammy and the aid of my IV holder thing. Eventually my little girls were able to come see me but I was afraid that the huge scar on my head where I had many staples would scare them. If they were scared they didn’t show it, they were as strong as there mom had been and all I saw in their eyes was love.
The recovery process was long, and sometimes painful. Back at home some of the medication I had to take made me nauseous and it felt like I had done a thousand crunches, my abs hurt so much from vomiting.  I was out of work for a total of 7 weeks, and was it not for the support of family we wouldn’t have made it through that time, because I did not have disability insurance. (I do now though)The following March I went back under the knife to allow the doctors to clip the other two aneurysms that were found (a total of three.) 
10 – 15% of patients diagnosed with a brain aneurysm will harbor more than one aneurysm.   
Since then I’ve made a full recovery and have had a follow up scan to make sure there are not any more aneurysms in my brain. I will also have to be scanned every five years as a precautionary measure. While lying in bed and recovering I made several promises to myself, and one of them was to make sure I live a healthier lifestyle. So in response I’ve re-kindled my love of running and have completed three half marathons and two full marathon. 
Live for today, enjoy your family and friends, and don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today, because you never know when your time will be up. 

1 comment:

  1. Jen, we don't often see *brain aneurysm ruptured* and *here to tell his story* in the same sentence. Mike, your story is incredible and I'm glad that you are here today to share it with us. Best wishes for continued good health. Your *theBrainrunner handle makes perfect sense now that I've read your story. Keep running!
    P.S. Your family is lovely...great picture.


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