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Post On Thursday, February 20, 2014 By Karla
I suffered from a ruptured aortic valve brain aneurysm Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) on September 12, 2012 (at 41 yrs. old) and I thank God every day that I am mentally and physically fully recovered! Emotionally, I am still working on that.
Here's my story. After giving birth to my daughter on August 27, 2012, I became very ill two (2) days later. My organs started shutting down, my blood pressure went extremely high and my platelet count went extremely low. After two (2) days of tests, I was diagnosed with Pregnancy HELLP Syndrome and immediately transferred from the Maternity floor to the ICU. I was told that I had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy that went undetected and after the birth of my daughter it went into HELLP Syndrome. After (14) days in the hospital I was released on September 9th and told that I needed to follow-up with my Primary Care Physician.
On September 12th, I was laying in bed taking a nap and my Mother-in-Law was at home with me helping me with my newborn baby while my husband was at work. My dogs alerted her that there was something wrong and she came to check on me. Only to find me repeating over and over again, "Oh my gosh what is happening". She said my right arm was locked across my chest and my right leg was stiff and my foot was pointing downward; she could not move me. I started vomiting and I was unresponsive but still talking and awake.
She ran for help and called 911. I was taken to the nearest hospital and after a CT scan, they told my husband that I had a ruptured brain aneurysm and they would have to transfer me to a hospital that could handle the care and surgery. I was transferred immediately by ambulance to JFK Medical Center where I was taken straight into surgery. Endovascular coiling was done and a total of 60 coils were deployed to patch the aneurysm which was 10x7x6 mm.
After hours of surgery, I was heavily sedated for a couple of days and had a hard time with short term memory. I also had paralysis on my right side, lower leg and foot and I was pumped up on IV fluids and steroids which blew my body up to over 210 lbs. I was 145 lbs. when admitted. The good news is, I lost 65 lbs in (3) days after they took me off of the IV fluid. The bad news is, I have large scars, stretch marks and gashes all over my body from my natural waist to my knees. This came from the fluids stretching my body so large so fast.
After a few days of recovery in the ICU, my short term memory came back but the doctors told me that I would have to wear a permanent brace on my leg and foot and go through physical therapy to learn to walk again. On September 25th, I was transferred from ICU to a regular hospital room where I continued the recovery process.
On September 29th (the day before my transfer for inpatient physical therapy), I moved my big toe! Yes, after all of this, that was a BIG accomplishment! I saw my toe wiggle and I hit every button I could find on the "nurse call". There was a glimmer of hope after all!
On September 30th, I was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital where I received inpatient physical therapy. At this time I was in a wheelchair and still unable to walk. The days were very long, I was frustrated and confused about what had happened to me. I did not have the answers I wanted or needed and that lead to a lot of anxiety.
I did my best in physical therapy, even though it took me 30 minutes just to climb up and climb down (3) steps in a stairwell. I was determined to fight and survive! After a few days of physical therapy, I was able to use a walker but I was still so tired that I could barely make it across my hospital room without having to take a break half way across.
I was released from the hospital to come home on October 4th. I continued outpatient physical therapy (3) times per week for one (1) month - I did floor exercises (2) times per week and aquatic therapy (1) time per week. After (3) weeks, I regained most of my strength to be able to walk without a walker. At this point....I finally got the release to drive my car! That was one more milestone accomplished.
During the time of outpatient therapy, I also went back to work part-time. It was actually (2) weeks after coming home from the hospital. The company I work for allowed me to worked from home. In the beginning I would work for an hour and rest for an hour. This went on and on every day until I got got up enough strength to get 4-hours of work in. This actually took 8-hours to work a total of 4-hour. continued to work from home until February 4, 2013. Then I went back to work at the office.
Just (2) months after coming home, 3/4 of my hair fell out. I had long hair just past my shoulders at the time and it was coming out in massive clumps. I was filling up a waste basket full of hair in a couple of days. I went to my Doctor and she suggested taking Biotin 5,000 mcg (5 mg). Thank goodness for that! I cut my hair short, started taking the Biotin every single day and within (6) months....it all grew back.
The past year has been a roller coaster of emotions, one minute I was laughing and the next minute I was crying. I was told by the hospital Psychiatrist that I would experience mild anxiety when I came home and was prescribed Xanax; which I never took. MILD ANXIETY? Who were they kidding! I had full blown post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mood swings, crying spells, uncontrolled anxiety, fear of another rupture, fear that I would die in my sleep, fear that if I got a headache that it was happening all over again....it went on and on but after about 10 months, it all started to come to a calm.
I decided to fight back. I was on a mission and I was determined to get the answers I so desperately wanted and needed!
I did experience mild headaches for about a year but now this is completely gone. I would get twinges or sharp pains in my head and then it would only last a minute or two and then go away. This went on for about a year and it would happen about 3-4 times per day. My Doctor said this was normal and it should subside in time. Which it did.
After having my menstrual period nearly every day for a year, I was referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist in December of 2013, who found the answers I've waited so long to find. He found my Vitamin D level to be 13 (should be between 50-80), my Platelet count 109 (should be 150) and low estrogen. All of the these deficiencies cause: anxiety, depression, extreme fatigue, and the list goes on!
I am now on Vitamin D therapy, and I have changed my nutrition and diet (slightly) in hopes of helping my low platelet count. I am also taking hormone therapy now and I feel like brand new! I can not begin to tell you how much all of these things have made such a HUGE difference. I also recently went in for my (1) year Cerebral Angiogram and I have a good report of no changes to the coiling and no other aneurysm were found!
I am no longer chronically fatigued, I no longer have sleepless nights or nightmares, I no longer have crying spells unless I am watching the Hallmark Channel, I no longer have severe PTSD (now that I have learned to control the triggers), I no longer have random scary thoughts, and I no longer have outbursts of anger.
I know that my story may be mild compared to what others have experienced and my heart goes out to all of the survivors. I just want people to know that there is hope and the mental, emotional and physical struggles can get better in time.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I am willing to share with all of you, anything that might help you get through to the next day!
Stay positive, have faith and never give up!
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