The event that changed my life and almost ended it
I was 23 years old when I suffered a brain aneurysm that caused a massive stoke and left me unable to talk, walk and swallow for almost 7 months
I'm a 24 year old member of the United States Coast Guard and was 23 at the time of my injury that changed my life.
On June 5th 2011 I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm that wound up causing a massive stroke. The 5th was a Sunday and that Friday I had gone to a friends for a party and woke up Saturday morning complaining of a horrible headache and just feeling horrible in general which I attributed to maybe drinking a little too much the night before.
All day on Saturday my friend who I was living with at the time was saying I was acting very different and totally out of the normal. She said she had seen me after I had too much to drink and this was very different. She wanted to take me to the hospital that day but I kept telling her "no I'm not going to the hospital for bad headaches". Well I should of listened to her Sunday morning I woke up around 5am and made my way out of my room and to the kitchen and I opened the fridge and just as I opened the fridge I collapsed on the floor. My friend had heard me fall and immediately called 911 thinking I was suffering from a seizure. I was rushed to the nearest hospital, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Beach, FL. There it was discovered that I had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, surgery was performed right away to stop the bleed.
For several weeks I was in a medically induced coma and under a chilling blanket to keep my body temperature down and let it heal itself. The entire time I was in the coma I was also on a ventilator because I couldn't even do that on my own. When I woke up from the coma I wasn't confused or disoriented about where I was my family and friends were all there. For a while I was not able to move anything or speak just blink my eyes. That didn't last long though shortly after I woke up I was able to do a thumbs up with my left hand (I'm right handed).
After spending a few weeks in the ICU and having half my skull removed to help relieve the pressure in my head I was ready for rehab. I was sent off to a rehabilitation hospital in Jacksonville. There I was in 3 hours therapy a day occupational, physical and speech therapy. In rehab I was making rapid progress and impressing everyone of my therapist and doctors. I owe a lot of my rapid progress to my mother and her sister. My mom wound up quitting her job to support me and be there for me when I needed it the most I wouldn't have made such great progress in such a short amount of time without her.
Between the two of them someone was always by my side from day one there to be my voice when I couldn't talk and there to give me a swift kick in the butt if I ever needed one. I was determined enough to get better to where I didn't really need too much of that, maybe just when I had to wake up early to go to therapy. I was in rehab for roughly a month before I went back into the hospital.
I was in the hospital for a week to have to part of my skull that was removed put back. After a week in the hospital it was time to get my skull back on it was time to head back to rehab a new person. When I got back it was like everything had woken up and progression was moving along at a faster pace than before. I started standing and walking (with assistance of course). I began to move my right arm more which wasn't moving at all at one point. I was in an inpatient rehab setting from about August to early December.
Early December is when I left in patient rehab and went home to Savannah, Ga to live with my mom so she could care for me and make sure I got everything I needed. The downstairs portion of my house was renovated to be handicap accessible by the Navy League of Savannah, members of local Coast Guard units and my uncle who came down from Canada to help with the renovation to make it a comfortable place for me to live when I came home.
When I got home I started out patient therapy. It wasn't long before I was telling my mom I wanted more than just therapy and that's when we were turned on to a gym that had a program ran by the county to help people with disabilities. There I worked with a trainer who was used to working with people who were in wheelchairs and limited mobility. There I worked on a lot of strength training as well as some balance which was severely affected. It was not long before I was back down to my doctors in Jacksonville for some test and scans to make sure everything was still ok. That is when they made a major adjustment to the shunt that was placed in order to help drain the cerebral spinal fluid out of my head. When that was done it was like I became a new person again. I started walking better in therapy and was soon out of the wheelchair and using a walker then to using a cane and to now using nothing at all, also I regained full range of motion in my right arm. By the one year anniversary of my tragic accident I was walking and talking again well on my way back to a normal life.
Now it's been 15 months and I am out driving myself to the one therapy I am still in, which is physical therapy who are now focusing on getting me back to running. Being able to walk just was not good enough for me. I can run its just not pretty so we have to focus on what can make it better. I hope to be able to return to work for the Coast Guard and give back to all of those who supported me in my time of need. That is one thing that really aided in my recovery was my support group from family and friends to the members of the Coast Guard who stood by me and believed in me when they didn't really even know me just knew of me and my situation.
I'm 24 years old now and well on my way back to my life and hopefully back to the Coast Guard. One thing I would like for others to get from this story is no matter how bad things look with some hard work and a lot of determination they will and can get better. People will not give up on you as long as you don't give up on yourself.