Monica Franklin, 48, has a bright future. In fact, she is looking forward to a whole new chapter in her life when she gets married next February.
But one spring day 13 years ago, the future looked anything but bright for Monica, a senior quality engineer for a phone company who lives in Orlando. On May 5, 2004, Monica was attending night school after a long day at work when she felt a migraine coming on. “I sometimes had migraines back then so I didn’t think too much of it,” she recalls.
But this one was different. “Suddenly it felt like someone struck the back of my neck with a baseball bat.” Monica left class and went home. She called her brother, Albert, who lived nearby, and told him what happened. He stopped by to check on her but “I told him I just wanted to sleep.”
The next morning, Albert called to see how she was doing. While on the phone with him, Monica experienced what felt like “hot fire behind my eyeballs.” Frightened, she called 911. Within minutes, paramedics had taken Monica to a nearby hospital where she underwent tests that revealed bleeding on her brain. From there she was rushed by ambulance to Florida Hospital, where she underwent further testing, including an angiogram.
A neurosurgeon explained to Monica that she had a ruptured brain aneurysm that needed to be treated very soon. “He described the two options available to me [open surgery with clipping, or an endovascular procedure with coiling]. I asked if perhaps I had a third option of going home and just taking medication. He replied, ‘You’ll die within a day’ without treatment, so I went with option two: the endovascular coiling.”
The next morning, Monica underwent the procedure, which went smoothly. After a two-week stay in the hospital, she was able to go home, and within six weeks, she made a gradual return to her full-time job.
Monica suffered almost no physical or neurological issues as a result of her ruptured aneurysm. For a brief period after she left the hospital, she needed to use a walker, but she did not require physical therapy. And today, except for some occasional problems with her short-term memory, Monica says, “You wouldn’t even know I had a ruptured brain aneurysm,” an outcome she considers “a miracle.”
Monica is grateful for the information and support she found on the Brain Aneurysm Foundation website, and has shared links to the website with friends, hoping that by educating them she might spare them what she went through, or worse. “It’s such an important resource,” she says.
She urges anyone who experiences the symptoms of a brain aneurysm — such as a sudden, severe headache — to seek immediate medical attention. “I didn’t do that 13 years ago, and it could have cost me my life,” she says.