I think that this is one of the hardest things I have had to write, much less blog about but I was urged to share my sister's story and have each of you aware of a condition that so many people are unaware exists and that so many people may be walking around with, with absolutely no idea...a brain aneurysm. For those that do not know, brain aneurysm are blood vessels that should be capillary in size that abnormally expand to a vessel, much like size of an artery, and burst.
At the age of 15, my sister was diagnosed with double brain aneurysm after having several fainting spells. Because my father was retired military, we had the opportunity to have her taken to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. to have a procedure done, known as a glueing procedure, to seal off the these blood vessels in her brain that had taken on such a dangerous size.
Unfortunately, during her procedure, her blood pressure had dropped, sending the glue to the base of her brain which sealed and caused her to have a stroke. She was in a comma for 9 months and we were told that she would basically be unable to function and I hate to say the word but a vegetable.
BUT SOMETHING MIRACULOUS HAPPENED. She started responding after these 9 months...squeezing our hands and blinking in response to questions...it was truly amazing!
Over the course of the next few years, my sister learned to talk, but very slowing, and feed herself and function pretty close to a normal functioning person. She was paralyzed on her whole left side due to the stroke and her mentality level stayed at that of a 14 year old. But I didn't care...I had my sister and that's all that mattered! Over the next 26 years, my sister lived at home with us with the-help of a home aid and eventually was placed in a beautiful nursing home to which we (my mom and I) visited religiously once or twice a week. We chose the nursing home so that she would have more interactively with others, other than sitting home watching television.
Last week, my sister was found unresponsive in her room. We got the call and rushed to the hospital, only to find her hooked up to every machine possible, eyes fixed and dilated, breathing on the ventilator, blood pressure extremely low and erratic heart rate. We had no idea what happened, whether she had another stroke or her brain aneurysm burst. They couldn't perform an MRI because this required her blood pressure to be at normal levels to do this. In the midst of all this the doctors reported to us that both her kidney's had failed and that they couldn't perform any dialysis because of her low blood pressure. We were told there was no hope, her body was shutting down and the best thing for her was to let nature take it's course and were urged to sign a DNR form. which we did. Talk about the worst feeling in the world...this is it.
Over the next few hours, her blood pressure seems to be correcting itself and was achieving close to normal levels! They were able perform an MRI and showed no stroke, no bursting. That was extremely positive news!!!!!!!!!!!! It was like that MIRACLE thing that happened earlier in her life was happening all over again!
A few more hours passed...they were talking about performing dialysis as her body was normalizing, etc, etc. but were going to wait to do it the following morning. As we stayed with her, she was again squeezing our hands, and blinking in response to questions. Can you imagine how we are were feeling? Just on top of the world! She was going to be okay!
So we came home, all prepared to come back to the hospital in a few hours. I received a call, only 4 hours after we had left, that her blood pressure dropped again and that little heart gave out. My sister had passed away.
I miss her terribly and believe she is with angels now, this is what she was to us on earth...a little angel.
Ninette (4-16-66 - 5-18-08)
Brain aneurysm can be detected by having an MRI performed. I urge everyone to have this test performed.