Head Over Heels

A fellow brain aneurysm survivor posted on Facebook tonight that she had fallen and hit her head pretty hard. After a CT scan, she was given the “all clear”, but I know it must have been scary. She has been through multiple procedures and suffered a stroke.

This week I celebrated my 9th Annie-versary: nine years ago I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. The 11mm (almost 1/2 inch in diameter) aneurysm I didn’t know was growing inside my brain suddenly ruptured. The annie-versary day went by with little fan fare. My husband made me dinner, which is always a special treat, but beyond that, because I’m always so busy at work, I didn’t do much to celebrate.

The first couple of years, I would take the day off and have a spa day. I think I need to start doing that again…regardless of how stressful & busy things are at work this time of year…which it always is. They’re lucky to still have me.

Falling and hitting my head is probably my biggest fear. I hate it when I get to work late and have to park up on the very steep hill parking lot. I always fear falling down and make sure I grasp and have a good hold on the PVC pipe railing along the “side walk” up and down the hill. The railing is always covered with snow or ice too, so not sure how much of a help that is.

I probably didn’t share this with many people, but on our last night in Scotland in 2013, our tour guide dropped us off at a hotel near the Edinburgh airport. Dave and I enjoyed a lovely dinner in the hotel restaurant, then I REALLY wanted to take a long soak in a tub and there was a deep, soaking tub in our room at the hotel. As I was getting out, I misjudged the height of the tub to the floor and slipped on the tile floor as I got out, BARELY missing hitting my head on the tub and landing on my backside pretty hard.

Dave immediately ran in from the other room. I was laying on the floor with my head pretty much laying up against the tub. Once we both realized I was okay, we both shook in fear. It was a scary moment and one I hope never to repeat. And that was before I had my craniotomy on my 2nd brain aneurysm.

I suppose the fear is that a hit on the head could produce some sort of shock on the aneurysms and force them to bleed. Or that the surgical work that has already been done…could become “undone”. I’m not even sure how realistic that fear is. I supposed I should ask on my next visit with my neurosurgeon. Because I’m susceptible to aneurysms and bleeding, I would think any hard hit could be a risk. So, I’m very glad Lori got a CT scan after she fell and hit her head. I’d do the same thing.

I didn’t hit my head when my first brain aneurysm ruptured in 2006. No warning, no symptoms, that I recall. But I know that brain hemorrhages can occur when hitting your head. The tragic death of Natasha Richardson┬áis a sad example of that.

So, nine years ago this week, I was in the ICU at Maine Med, then moved to the 608 Neuro-ward. I was in the hospital for two weeks then had six months of recovery before going back to work full-time. Only one person from work visited me and it was simply because she was in the area. I’m so glad Lori has such a wonderful group of friends to support her. I’m sure this fall scared her very much. I know her daughter and husband keep a close eye on her and I’m sure THEY were just as scared as she was. Her service dog Tober will make sure she’s okay. What a great dog he is. Love him.

I’m a NASCAR fan, and the race at Charlotte, NC is this weekend. I remember watching that race in ICU with Dave and my sister Dori (who died of a ruptured brain aneurysm in 2012). They were impressed I knew the drivers and was so responsive. I was one of the lucky ones. Some times I wonder WHY I was one of the lucky ones when so many beautiful, vibrant people who had children to live for aren’t here anymore. It just doesn’t make sense some times. Survivor’s guilt? You bet cha. I’m not a mother and I think I’m a very selfish person, so I’m not sure why God chose ME to live over all of the other beautiful, strong individuals who have lost their lives and devastated their families over ruptured brain aneurysms. It just doesn’t make sense to me some times.

So, yes…I walk slower in snowy & icy conditions. I drive slower in snowy & icy conditions. I don’t ride a bike anymore because of the fear of falling off and hitting my head. I don’t do any strenuous physical sports anymore…not that I ever did before. Falling and hitting my head can happen at any time…even slipping on some of the acorns in the driveway, which is like walking on marbles, gives me pause. I bought this fear up at a support group meeting, but I was on the only one who addressed it. I’m sure other’s have that fear. I’m so glad Lori is okay after her fall. Aneurysms survivors have another added fear. Goody….but I’m still here.