Ani-Versary

I had planned on getting a blog post up for my Aneurysm Anniversary but somehow an entire month has passed. Life has just gotten in the way and although my aneurysm rupture will have forever changed me it doesn’t define me any longer as it did a year ago.

I’ve had a lot people say to me, ‘I can’t believe it’s been year’ ‘where does time go?’ ‘Doesn’t time fly’. Time has indeed flown and if any thing that my rupture has taught me is that I am very lucky to have had that time. I’ve even dared imagine what life my children could have had over the last year if things didn’t work out.

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How how do you feel about it being a year ago, does it feel weird?

Does it bring back bad memories? In all honesty it doesn’t really feel real. If I could compare it to anything it would be a bit like an episode of ‘Undercover Boss’. It was like I was dressed up in pyjamas and dropped into someone else’s life. I don’t know if it was the amount of painkillers I was taking or because I was surrounded by patients who were far worse off than me. I had my own little corner in rehab where I would Instagram my hospital meals, drink tea when it appeared and watch day time TV. The lady in the next bay wasn’t even conscious and her family would gather around her bedside and talk to her. Her partner would bring her nice things and hold her hand. The lady opposite had been there for several months. I felt like a bit of a fake, like I was in disguise. Did it really all happen?

No it didn’t feel weird or bring back bad memories but oddly enough brought back happy memories. Of course having a Dr. kneel down to your eye level and tell you that your migraine is actually a bleed on the brain and you’re being shipped off to another hospital was not all that happy, having a brain surgeon tell you could die wasn’t up there with Disneyland but the aftermath was something else. Meeting all the wonderful nurse’s, Daisy strutting around and making my bed so beautifully I had to take a photo, Fev and his stories of fishing with grenades and the young nurse who was so loud I could hear from the next room, I can’t remember her name but she was so vibrant. I have of course always valued our NHS but my ‘Undercover Boss’ moment truly opened my eyes to how amazing it can be.

What was especially uplifting was the amount of support I received. The thoughtful gifts that lifted my spirits. I spent over an hour chatting to my little brother on the phone, something we would never usually do. It was a good job I had a window bay because I needed somewhere to display all my cards. Each day everyone would wait for my ‘selfie’ or hospital food picture and it was reading all the comments and well wishes that got me through each day. One friend even requested a ‘toilet selfie’ to mark the anniversary which of course I obliged.

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Is an Aneurysm Anniversary or ‘Ani-versary’ something to be celebrated?

There’s only way to mark an anniversary in my book and that is with cake. My work colleagues were an incredible support from the start. We laugh about it now but I had a text from a friend asking if I could swap a day and I replied saying could I let him know later as I was currently in an ambulance. Apparently he then had some kind of meltdown. I may well have been on Oramorph at the time. When I brought my anniversary cake into work I had various reactions. One embraced the celebration and took me out for Prosecco after work (my kinda girl). Others looked at me sideways and thought it an odd thing to celebrate. Is it really odd to celebrate living?

Has it affected your life?

Around a third don’t survive a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a third are left with life changing conditions and a third go on like me. Don’t quote me on those figures, this is just information I’ve picked up a long the way. I returned to work after just two months, some survivors will never work again. It wasn’t easy returning to work and took 2 more months before I was working normal hours. Recovery was slow, working again was difficult I’d lost a lot of weight and a lot of strength. I pushed and pushed myself and it’s only recently that I’ve realised that no, my health is not the same. Someone could sneeze in the next room and I will get that cold. I am averaging a cold a month this year, my most recent one lasted over 2 weeks and I felt so so tired. Life a year on has more or less slipped back to its original self but without sugar in my tea.

Are your headaches anything to do with it?

I am told no. I was being treated for daily chronic headaches for 2 years before the rupture. I was taking Amitriptyline to treat those but due to having surgery and that particular medication is an epileptic. initially I wanted to go back on it but the side effects are brutal and I’ve never felt strong enough to deal with them. I have come to the understanding that most people can’t grasp that I always have a headache. I have had a headache every single day for a year. I am The Lady With The Headache! Fortunately I finally found a GP who decided to act and refer me to neurology, my last appointment involved being stabbed in the neck in head with needles, at first I thought it had worked but it hasn’t. A huge number of people living with unruptured aneurysms and treated anneurysms seem to experience a large number of headaches and migraines and yet many are told that they are unrelated. It is quite unnerving suffering headaches day in day out because there is always that scary thought that there’s something sinister lurking in your brain to cause them. Part of me thinks that perhaps if my headaches had been investigated sooner, then I may have had a scan which showed up my aneurysm and it may have been treated accordingly before it exploded. Treating an unruptured anneurysm is easier and less risky than one which has blown.

A year ago I needed this blog, it assisted my recovery and I hoped that it may reach people who were going through similar, I am pleased to report that I did reach people. I also wanted to spread a little awareness. I had heard of brain aneurysms before my rupture but I always thought that they were an instant killer. I didn’t realise that it was possible to survive one and I certainly didn’t consider myself at risk. I don’t wish it didn’t happen, it was a life experience that taught me a lot. I think it was more scary for my family and friends than me because I was living in my hospital bubble. The real struggle came when I left the bubble and the painkillers weren’t on tap.

I had a follow-up MRI in October and never got the results, I just have to assume that no news is good news. I should have another this October and a third 5 years after the rupture day. After that I just hope that my aneurysm behaves itself.

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