I was in my 30s when I suffered from subarachnoid haemorrhage which led to brain aneurysm. I was very fit then and was never prone to any illness.
In fact I was on the treadmill when I had the attack.
My late mother came to visit me here in London from the Philippines. After scolding me for exercising right after finishing breakfast, my mother asked me what book I would recommend for her to read.
I wickedly recommended The Blood and The Holy Grail, a 1982 book written by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. This book was way way way before Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
The book is about the hypothesis that Jesus and Mary’s children went to live in France. As soon as I explained this to my mother, suddenly everything started to blacken and I was looking into a tunnel with my mother’s horrified face at the end of it.
I was in a dead faint for at least a couple of minutes.
As soon as I got up, I staggered to the bedroom and slept only to be woken a couple of hours later by my husband, who was called by my mother at work.
I was just so tired and sleepy that day and had a bit of a headache.
That night, my arms were so uncomfortably numbed. Throughout the night, I would raise both my arms and moved them in circle again and again. I was sleepy but so restless.
The next day, Peter took me to the doctors. We saw Dr Andrawis (RIP) who at first thought I had the onset of a flu. He even said that he won’t prescribe me any tablets as it would be cheaper to get them over the counter at the chemist.
Peter said that I did not have the symptoms of a flu as I was complaining of tingling, pins and needles in both my arms and legs. I was sleepy but so restless.
This stopped Dr Andrawis. He got a reflex hammer and then he called an ambulance to take me straight to the Royal Free Hospital. The paramedic put a neckbrace on me which stayed for weeks while I had to stay perfectly still in bed. Apparently this was the only way to find out where the exact location of the aneurysm.
I have to commend the medical and nursing staff at the RFH, I am sure I would have died if I had the hemorrhage in the Philippines. (No disrespect to the Philippines, but the medical facility would have been horrendously expensive or something). Everything was free with the NHS.
It was rather frustrating though at the hospital, they had to wake you up every couple of hours, 24/7. This was to ensure that I had not succumbed to coma. I was so tired.
I was rather cheerful though, I was thinking of all the weights I must have lost by being nil by mouth for so many weeks.
I also remembered the surgeon telling me how they are going to go about the surgery. He said that they are going to open my head by the left temple to get to the burst blood vessel. They would then put a metal clip into the where the aneurysm was to stop the bleeding.
He gave me all the possible outcome or side effect like memory loss, coma, impaired speech, vision, coordination, balance, stroke and even death.
The consultant was so lovely, so I asked him if he can give me plastic surgery as well. 🙂
The brain operation took 5 hours.
Apparently I went very very cold during the recovery. I think I must have been feeling really cold because I was babbling about putting enough sugar in my son’s milkshake!
After the surgery, I got better quickly but I had to stay in the hospital for more weeks. The brain does have a way of coping by itself. I keep having dreams of being a different person. Sometimes as an Italian, sometimes as a journalist working in the Killing Fields.
The nurses still had to wake me up every couple of hours. I really longed for a good long sleep. I wanted to go home.
Thank goodness there were not much side-effect from the hemorrhage nor from the surgery except for forgetting words, especially when I am talking. I used to be really fluent in English 🙂 my vocabulary was very good, but suddenly I was struggling for words. This went on for years. Fortunately I am getting better. I found out the reason for this was that the craniotomy was done near my temporal lobe, which control memory and understanding language.
Other early temporary side-effect was when the first few times I first opened my eyes, it was like looking through a kaleidoscope, complete with flashing lights, bursting with colours. Also the first night I was home, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a man next to me I did not recognise. I had face-blindness. It was Peter, of course and thank God the feeling lasted only for a couple of minutes.
I am all better now, except for the almost permanent high blood pressure.
I asked the doctor for the possible cause of the aneurysm, he said that I had a week vein in the brain. It was also found that I have a sickle cell trait which did not help.
But mother always believed that I was blasphemous and was punished! LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂