The Event

I just re-read The Dark Tower series, and there’s a line in one of the books (Wizard and Glass, I’m pretty sure): true love is boring. In some ways, so are medical emergencies. Something that causes so much stress, drama, and excitement in the moment is so much less exciting in retrospect and in written form.

So, here’s the context for the event. My husband and I have relocated to Portland — I flew from Oregon to South Carolina two days before my brain explosion, as I like to call my aneurysm, since really, something in my brain actually did explode open, which if you’re going to have something awful happen, at least it could be as cool sounding as an explosion in your brain. Anyway, I flew home two days before the event so that I could pack up our belongings from our recently sold home and get ready for the movers to come and load the truck up with all of our stuff that would be moved across the country. The morning of the event, my mom and I spent our time packing up as much as possible in boxes.

12496327_1265261900168133_4379015052550700317_oIn fact, this (see photo to the left) is probably the last snapchat I sent prior to my brain explosion. I sent this to my husband and then sent my mom out to get more boxes. After she left, our realtor came over with coffee and cookies, and we sat on the front porch. As we were talking, I heard a loud pop in my head, then the world tilted to the left. I started hearing a “wohm, wohm, wohm” sound. I knew immediately that something was wrong, but I didn’t know exactly how wrong.

I called my husband, who is a a nurse with years of experience in emergency and critical care. When I told him, (kind of… since I also started to lose words), he told me to get to the emergency room immediately. I stood up and tried to walk to ask our realtor for a ride, but I couldn’t walk by then — I was trying to walk forward but kept moving towards the side. I made it to the couch inside and that was it. Then, the realtor called an ambulance, my mom came home, and my husband called back.

By this point, the pain was unreal. People say that your body forgets pain, but I haven’t forgotten that pain at all, even months later. It felt like my entire head was being squeezed by an anvil, and I kept worrying that the immense pressure I was feeling would cause my head to literally explode, instead of what I found out later was just a tiny artery in the communication center of my brain.

The ambulance came, medics helped me calm down and started their assessment. After saying the worst possible thing to my husband: “my head hurts so bad. I’m having an aneurysm, and I think I’m dying,” I gave my phone to my mom, was put in ambulance, and went to the local ED where a CT scan confirmed a brain bleed. I was given lots of pain meds and antiemetics, but the helicopter ride was still awful. I had extreme photophobia, and the pain was only dulled to a barely tolerable level. I remember forcing myself to open my extremely sensitive eyes, thinking that the helicopter ride might have been my last chance to see the sky. I remember wishing I’d said something nicer to Eric and my mom, since I might not have another chance.

I don’t remember landing or getting to the next ED room. All the rest of that day/night is a haze of pain and vomiting and nausea and wondering where my husband was (he had to fly from Portland to SC, all in a rush, while I was in the ED waiting for the neurosurgeon to review my case). I went to surgery first thing the next morning, and I don’t remember that either.

So, that’s my story. For such a life-changing event, it certainly doesn’t sound that exciting.

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Preamble

Well, how to start a blog about an event that happened almost exactly three months ago, that was life-changing but somehow not?

Maybe with this: on February 17, 2016, I thought I was going to die. I remember being in a helicopter, fighting extreme photophobia (sensitivity to light) to open my eyes, wanting to see the sky as much as possible before I died. I re-played the last words I’d said to my husband before I was incommunicado (“I think I’m dying”) and regretted I hadn’t found something more kind, more profound, more sweet to say.

I didn’t die. In fact, other than some residual, persistent, and bothersome headaches and what seems to be chronic fatigue, I’m almost back to my old self. It’s strange, really, and this will perhaps help me (and you, if you’re reading along) find some peace with an unexpected and awful time in my life.