Six years ago, in October 2011, Corie Maffett, of Kernersville, North Carolina, was working up a good sweat at her gym class when a radiating pain up the back of her neck stopped her cold. “The pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced,” recalls Corie, a married 7th grade math teacher with two young adult children.
Corie, then 40 years old, drove home, feeling increasingly nauseated and disoriented. She desperately wanted to crawl into bed but her husband, Guy, insisted on driving her to the local hospital.
When Corie told the doctors this was “the worst headache of my life,” they ordered immediate imaging tests that revealed a subarachnoid hemorrhage. Corie was rushed by ambulance to Forsyth Medical Center in nearby Winston-Salem, where she spent the next 10 days recovering in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit.
Corie’s doctors decided it was best not to treat the aneurysm that had ruptured, but she was unfortunately not out of the woods. Further testing had revealed three additional aneurysms, one of which was very large and would require treatment. In January 2012, Corie underwent endovascular coiling of the large aneurysm; the remaining two are being monitored.
Although Corie was initially deeply concerned that she might not be able to teach again, that fear was, fortunately, unfounded. “Everyone expected that I’d have some lasting symptoms but I’ve had none,” she says, adding that she remains very active and leads a normal life.
Despite all she went through, Corie is grateful that things happened the way they did. “If that first aneurysm hadn’t ruptured, the larger one would never have been detected, and I probably wouldn’t have survived if it had ruptured,” she says. “And if my husband hadn’t insisted on taking me to the hospital, I’m sure I wouldn’t have lived through the night, as the bleed was substantial.”
There is another silver lining: Corie also developed a lasting friendship with one of her ICU nurses, and says her daughter was inspired to become a nurse because of her mom’s experiences. “Things happen for a reason,” says Corie.
Once Corie was fully recovered, she wanted to learn more about what had happened to her and quickly discovered the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF). “I was so glad to find a place where I could get accurate, reliable information,” says Corie, who joined a BAF Facebook group to connect with other survivors.
Corie urges everyone to become aware of the warning signs of a brain aneurysm and to not brush off any unusual symptoms like she had attempted to do. “Listen to your body and get help if something seems wrong,” says Corie. “It could save your life.”