Tom’s Story

I woke up one morning with literally the worst headache of my life. You know, it was bothering me to the point that I called my primary care physician, who saw me the next day. I went over my symptoms, and told him, the worst headache of my life, when I bend over to tie my shoe feels like my head’s literally going to explode. He was looking at his notes and his little laptop and he’s like, “No, no, it sounds like stress to me.” And I remember, you know what I said to him as I said, “Listen, I know you’re the doctor, but I got to tell you, I feel like you’re not listening to me.” So he prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a sleeping pill for the sleep part of it and said, let’s try this for a week.

So I went home and I took the medication religiously. That Sunday, April 30th, 2017, I took my last dose of medicine. I said to my wife, I’m so glad this medication’s over. My aneurysm ruptured that afternoon. That was the beginning of my journey. The hemorrhagic stroke, which is a brain aneurysm that ruptures, I think the vast majority of people who have one die. Nobody is around to tell their story. When you have one and you survive, people want to, in my opinion, want to get on with their life and forget it ever happened. Most aneurysms are found from a secondary finding. They’re looking for something else, and they stumble upon it, and that patient gets treatment. But it’s funny when you think that with a little money and some research, life could be different for the vast majority of aneurysm patients, to be sure.

The future that I’m hopeful for is that Washington will see the merits of funding through NIH research in the brain aneurysm field to help us spread awareness and you know in all facets of it and you know, get us on par with other diseases. But, you know, people who are sick and live, they tend to have more active participants where, you know, our people tend to die or not be ruptured and want to forget about it, it means, it’s hard. This whole experience of coming to D.C., I mean it you can’t not have wind in your sails when you’re with your fellow survivors. So I think we get as much out of it as we put in, but we’re hoping that we can make some headway in the legislature and that they’ll see fit to pass a bill and that the president will sign it and that we’ll get the money that we need.