Part 8 – The night my brain aneurysm ruptured

My first memory loss

I have no memory of the events that occurred on the night of Saturday 13 May 2017. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the last memory I have was going to sleep. The next memory I have was 6 days later laid in bed on the Critical Care ward of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

I can’t even put into words the level of confusion and fear that I felt when I regained consciousness. One minute I was in my own bed feeling perfectly fine and going to sleep and the next I was in a hospital bed. To me, it literally felt like only a matter of minutes or hours had passed and unbeknown to me a whole 6 days had passed!

The information I’m about to share with you has been provided to me by my parent’s and my eldest niece. When talking it through with my niece she struggled to relay some of the information as she said some of it is now a blur.

I guess this is how the brain tries to overcome a traumatic experience, it wants you to forget it ever happened. You’ll later discover that this happened to me on a regular basis throughout my recovery.

So what happened?

I went to bed and must have woke from my sleep to use the bathroom. After talking this through with my family, what we think happened is that I went to the toilet and that is when my aneurysm ruptured.

I can only imagine the confusion and the unbearable amount of pain I must have experienced, this is what must have made me feel that I couldn’t make it back to my bedroom, so that is why I must have climbed into the bath to lie down and feel safe.

I laid in the bath and had been physically sick and loss consciousness.  I must have also had a severe headache and maybe experienced some of the other symptoms from a ruptured aneurysm, but I have no memory of this. These are three out of many key symptoms that someone could experience when a brain aneurysm ruptures.

I have also been told that I was breathing in a very loud and strange way. At this point, my dad was in bed sleeping and my mum downstairs watching the TV.

What is an aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in a blood vessel wall, usually where it branches. The medical term for an aneurysm that develops inside the brain is an intracranial or cerebral aneurysm. As blood passes through the weakened blood vessel, the blood pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards like a balloon.

Aneurysms can develop in any blood vessel in the body, but the two most common places are:

  • the brain – most brain aneurysms only cause noticeable symptoms if they burst (rupture).
  • the abdominal aorta – the artery that transports blood away from the heart to the rest of the body

The night my aneurysm ruptured

Ruptured brain aneursyms usually result in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a bleed in the subarachnoid space.  This is exactly what happened to me.

When blood escapes into the space around the brain, it can cause the following sudden symptoms;

  • Sudden severe headache – the worst headache of your life.
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea/Vomitting
  • Seizure
  • Stiff neck
  • Sudden blurred and double vision
  • Sudden pain above/behind the eye or difficulty seeing
  • Sudden change in mental status/awareness
  • Sudden trouble walking or dizziness
  • Sudden weakness or numbness
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Drooping eyelid

For more information of the signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm visit the Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Thank you to my parent’s for saving my life

My dad told me that he woke from his sleep to a strange loud bellowing noise, he told me that the sound was un-recognisable and did not sound like that of a person. He decided to get out of bed and investigate as he could hear a loud sound echoing from the bathroom. As he walked towards the bathroom, the door was wide open and the light was off, it didn’t look as if anyone was in there…he then continued to walk into the bathroom where he found me laid unconscious in the bath.

He shouted my mum and at that point, they called the ambulance. The ambulance staff talked my mum through what she needed to do until they arrived, including laying me down flat which she couldn’t do as I was in the bath and which she was scared to do it just in case I would choke to death. Lucky for me the paramedics arrived very quickly!

Apparently, they thought I had a cardiac arrest, they then lifted me out of the bath and placed me on a stretcher and carried me out of the house. My mum told me that I was grabbing onto the staircase as if I didn’t want to leave the house and the paramedic team were peeling my hands off the handrails while saying; “Danielle you need to let go, we need to get you to the hospital now.”

Arrival at the hospital

I was then admitted to the Northern General Hospital Sheffield, by that point my brain had undergone a huge amount of trauma and started to go into shock. As a result, I suffered a series of further seizures and at this point I was then put into a sedated state in order to prevent any further trauma or damage to my brain.

I was then transferred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield where I had a series of MRI and CT scans and this is where it was discovered that I had a ruptured aneurysm/subarachnoid haemorrhage – a bleed on the left side of my brain.

The doctors were shocked that they didn’t find any knocks to my head, they were expecting to see signs of strain or a fall and couldn’t understand how I managed to climb into the bath in such a state without hurting myself.

My ancestral guidance and protection

I know many people will disagree with me or say that I want to believe this happened to provide myself with some kind of comfort. However, I believe that this is what truly happened. I believe that my grandmother, my dad’s mum is the ancestor that the card reader mentioned who was protecting me. I believe that she woke me out of my sleep and led me to the bathroom so that my dad would hear me and wake from his sleep to find me and save my life.

My aneurysm could have easily ruptured in my sleep or I could have gone back to my bed and if that was the case my dad wouldn’t have heard me or found me until it would have been too late. If that was the case I wouldn’t be here writing this blog post today.

It was made very clear to me that if my dad hadn’t found me when he did and if I would have been far away from a hospital, I would have died.

There are so many things that could have gone wrong, I’ve thought about this over and over again! What if I would have locked the bathroom door…they would have had to break the door down which would have added time that was critical to saving my life.  What if it would have happened when I was alone?! The list goes on…what if?!

No one has advised me as to how long I’ve potentially had this aneurysm other than it has been lying dormant for some time. Therefore it could have ruptured at any time; on my commute to work, when I was on one of my many visits to Jamaica. I even travelled solo through South America in 2015, it could have ruptured at any time!!

I moved back to my parent’s temporarily with the view of moving out but it didn’t seem to happen due to work and a number of other factors.

I honestly believe that something or someone brought me back to my parent’s for a reason for something bigger than I’d ever imagined… to protect me, to save my life! And I truly believe that my grandmother Rachel Grant was part of this, I really do!

The morning after my mum and dad went straight to my sister’s house from the hospital to tell her the what had happened and then they came home and phoned my eldest niece who was at University and living with her friends at the time. She had been working until the early hours of the morning so was in a deep sleep and missed the phone call.

Later on that morning, she woke to a missed call from her grandad and immediately felt something was wrong. She then called him back and she said the first thing he said was;

“Are you alone? It’s important that you are not on your own.’ My niece replied – ‘My friends are here why?’ 

My dad then went onto say; ‘Something bad has happened to your auntie, she’s had a brain aneurysm.”

At this point, my niece broke down crying and her friends came rushing to her room as they heard a huge sound of wailing coming from her room.

She immediately got ready and went straight to my parent’s house. While she was on her way she started to Google the term ‘brain aneurysm’ and when she started to read about it, it was clear that it was very serious and that there was no guarantee that I would survive.

A flood of emotions

My niece and I speak all the time but she had been so busy of lately as she was in her final year at University and with work that she had forgotten to respond to a message I had sent her 2 days before. She said that she felt a huge sense of guilt that she hadn’t responded to me once she had found out what had happened.

She said she instantly felt upset for me, for the obvious reasons of what had happened, because I’m her auntie and she loves me. But also because of the person that I am; free-spirited, adventurous, I love to travel etc. I was finally in such a good place after a going through a stressful period in my life. She said I was making so much progress and working towards the life that I wanted to live, I was happy, so why now?

Why did this have to happen to my auntie? After everything, she’s been through why did it have to happen to her? why?!

She was worried because at this point they didn’t know if I was going to survive and if I did survive what the severity of the damage to my brain would be or any lifelong disabilities that I could have been left with.

Some hard hitting facts…

  • 1 in 50 people has an un-ruptured aneurysm.
  • There is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes.
  • Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases. Of those who survive, about 60% suffer some permanent neurological deficit.
  • Subarcahnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is one of the most feared causes of acute headache upon presentation at A&E.
  • There are almost 500,000 deaths worldwide each year caused by brain aneurysms and half the victims are younger than 50.
  • 4 out of 7 people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities.

The above statstics have been provided by the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.

Making the dreaded phone calls

By this point, my mum started phoning family members to tell them what had happened. My niece then took the lead and said we need to let Danielle’s cousin’s, her partner and her close friends know what’s happened. She guessed the password to my phone, accessed my contacts and started making the phone calls.

She remembered having my phone and my cousin Christina sending a WhatsApp message asking if I was okay as she had just seen that I was online 1 minute ago. My neice then responded to say that it was her on my phone and that I was in the hospital.  Christina then called my phone and my neice had to pass the phone to my dad as she just couldn’t speak and say the words out aloud of what had happened.

Making the phone calls and having to explain what had happened suddenly made everything real! This was actually happening and she was in shock.

Was I going to survive? If so was I going to be left with a lifelong disbaility, was I going to have brain damage?

At this point they just didn’t know and based on the above statistics you can see that the odds were stacked against me of coming out of this well.

March 7, 2018 7:30 pm

Part 7 – My life changed in just one day…

February 28, 2018

Part 9 – My surgery, the coiling of my aneurysm.

March 14, 2018

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