Emily’s Story

I was in the grocery store one day, when I experienced a horrific pain in my head. I felt nauseous and it was as if someone dropped a hammer on top of my head. The rest of week I had a dull headache and the pain got worse. I could barely function. When I went to my PCP, they prescribed medication for a migraine and sent me home. When the pain was still there and my right eyelid began to droop my mom took me to the ER in Denton, TX. When I had a CT scan with contrast, an aneurysm was discovered.

I was taken to the ER at Ft. Worth. The surgeon felt that the best course of action would be to clip the aneurysm instead of coiling due to the size and my age. When the procedure was explained, everything around me stopped. I couldn’t hear what was being said and I started looking at my family, paralyzed with fear.

My surgeon performed my surgery and saved my life. I came out of the surgery without any complications, but I do have an area of double vision when I look in the far corner of my right eye. The first time I saw the hook-like incision that started from the middle of my hairline on my forehead and went down to the bottom of my ear, I remember thinking “Oh wow! That’s my incision. Ok.” and I felt amazed and thankful that I was standing there able to wash my hands and walk back to my bed on my own. I realized the next obstacle I would face would be my anxiety. I wanted to return to my daughter, but I was so afraid of being away from the nurses and doctors that were only a button away in the hospital. I was also afraid to fall asleep and never wake up again. Everything leading up to the surgery happened so fast that I didn’t have time to process what actually happened.

I read an article about a well-known actress who revealed details of her anxiety after experiencing two aneurysms. It was important for me to see the testimony of someone else who had brain surgery and to see that our survival and feelings can be used toward the advocacy of brain aneurysms. My family and I were given plenty of information and support to handle the physical recovery after my surgery, but I was not prepared for the emotional journey I was about to begin after a traumatic event. I attended counseling sessions for the first year and learned the importance of giving myself some grace and, most importantly, time. With this time, I have felt anger, depression, gratitude, humor, humility and love. I thank God that I was able to return to my job and come home and return to being a wife and a mommy. I choose not to let “the why” of my aneurysm dominate my time of survival. I was given a second chance with my survival and I now strongly feel that I can be an advocate for others.