2016 – The year my brain exploded

It is quite commonplace for people to become reflective of the year gone by as they enter into a new one. Many are glad to see the back of it and are keen to move on in hope that the 12 months ahead will be brighter. Some gain a new sense of optimism. Some set themselves challenges and targets. Others remain sceptical and don’t see what the fuss is about.

Last year I set myself one new years resolution which was highly achievable. It was to wear earrings. I used to love earrings and still have a vast collection but when Jedi arrived it soon became a struggle to wear them as wandering baby hands would threaten to detach my ears from the side of my face (or at least rip my ear lobes open). I would not feel dressed unless I was wearing one or more of my many pairs of earrings.

Well I failed that new years resolution within a few days and plodded on with the rest of my year but just four and half months in my year was turned upside down, no I didn’t start wearing earrings but I do wish I had set my new years resolution¬†to quit taking sugar in my tea!

Some people take pity, I hear, ‘with all you’ve been through’, ‘what a terrible year’ etc. Do you know what though? It’s been the most incredible year! Because there is nothing quite like waking up after life saving surgery to make you realise actually how lucky you are.


What I went through was ‘an emotional rollercoaster’ (I do so hate that term) I went from being on my knees to being hauled up again, falling into pain to being made better only to be told my brain was bleeding but it might not be that bad before being told I will die if I don’t have surgery and that surgery could save me but it might not but it did and I lived in my hospital bubble only to face the reality of home and not having oramorph on tap and ending up back in and then I came home and things levelled out.

Several rupture survivors I have spoken to do not regret what they have been through, even those who now live with life altering conditions. More seem to have been quite accepting of their ‘journey’ (hate that term too) with very few saying that they wish it never happened.

This is how I see it:

It is highly likely that when I was born, a smidge over 33 years ago, that fault was already wired. I lived with it unknowingly for a little over 32 years. It just sat there and then for some reason the fault exploded, a bit like one of those dodgy smart phone batteries. Many people are born with brain faults also known as Brain aneurysms but for most it doesn’t pose a risk, they live to an old age and it never explodes. There are a few risk factors, smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, being female and your chances increase over the age of 45 but my aneurysm decided to explode over 10 years too soon after a cup of tea on a spring morning. I was told, ‘it’s just one of those things’. It was just one of those things that was destined to happen in my life time and it was predetermined, there was literally nothing I could do to have stopped it from happening.

Now, as already outlined in my blog there was a sequence of events that happened that should have happened to prevent me from receiving the amazing, life saving and life changing treatment from our incredible genius surgeons over at Addenbrooke’s hospital. But for every incident that should have stood in the way, something counteracted it. Many people have said, ‘it wasn’t your time’.

Firstly, the aneurysm decided to explode on a day that I was supposed to be at work but I had taken holiday meaning that I was home a lone. BUT thankfully an Annie Lennox song played on the radio and my sister-in-law next door can’t abide her music so switched it off meaning she heard my yelling and screaming.

Secondly, the paramedics decided I had a migraine BUT the GP they spoke to on the phone said I needed hospital treatment and should be taken in. They said she was fobbing them off.

The staff at A&E department at the NNUH branded me, ‘The lady with the headache’ and the Dr. there got the discharge papers ready BUT another Dr. popped his head around the curtain and said he wasn’t happy and within the space of 1 hour he had me in a CT scan, examined it, leaned at my bedside to tell me that there was blood on my brain, arranged a bed at Addenbrooke’s and an ambulance to get me there. My Knight in shining armour.

Like everyone says, ‘it wasn’t my time’.

Two months after I was back at work and my life started to return to normal and that is why 2016 has been the most incredible year. What an amazing honour to be able to return to my normal life and if anyone asks, the only lasting effect from my rupture was that my taste buds were severely screwed up whilst my brain was healing and I developed a dislike for sweet things meaning I no longer have sugar in my tea. I lived a fraction of my life chronically ill, I first hand experienced the amazing things our NHS does for people, the care and attention the nurses in neuroscience keep giving. I do hope that Daisy enjoyed her baby’s first Christmas. I asked my surgeons stupid question even though they’re a real life version of Dr. Strange. I watched the cleaner who only seemed to be responsible for metal things, he dusted the bed mechanisms and curtain rails. I met people whose lives were changed forever and I feel grateful that mine has changed only for the better. One of the biggest eye openers was the brief experience that I lived my life alongside those with an invisible illness. I had eye-opening conversations with those who live out their entire lives looking ‘normal’ and I encouraged one lady at the Travis gig I went to, to request a chair and to next time skip the queue like I had arranged. Of course next time I will have the absolute privilege to queue.

So what did I achieve in 2016?

I survived brain surgery and quit sugar from my tea.



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