My SAH happened on 10th February 2015 whilst on a skiing holiday in Italy with my husband. It was a perfect day, blue skies, powdery snow and we'd just caught a cable lift to the top of the mountain & stopped for a lovely cappucino. We decided where we were aiming to ski to for lunch (always a very important decision!) and set off again.
I hadn't got very far when I had a small fall - didn't hit my head just sort of fell back on my bottom - felt ok at that point but then heaved myself back up to a standing position and suddenly all hell was let loose in my head. I had a weird sensation of being able to feel my pulse roaring from the top of my back, all the way up my neck into my head, a massive headache, feeling of huge pressure inside my head and nausea.
Amazingly I did consider trying to ski down to my husband (who was slightly ahead of me & hadn't seen me fall) but with each second I was feeling worse so decided to move to the edge of the slope and sit down, in the hope that I would start to feel better.
Vain hope! I've never suffered from headaches and this one was so intense and sudden that I knew I needed to see a doctor. So I 'phoned my husband (thank heavens we always carry our mobiles with us), explained what had happened and he alerted the piste monitors who were with me pretty quickly.
If anyone's been skiing you'll know that when you're injured on the slopes they strap you into a rigid stretcher and basically drag the stretcher throught the snow behind their motorised snowmobile - affectionately known as 'the bloodwagon'. The name was strangely appropriate but the experience isn't great if you happen to be suffering from a SAH !
Anyway, although still in lots of pain, I did feel a bit calmer knowing that I was in safe hands and on the way to hospital. After a bumpy journey down the mountain and a short ambulance ride, we arrived at the local hospital where they did a CT scan and quickly diagnosed the a SAH. As they didn't have the facilities there to treat me I was helicoptered off to a regional hospital with a neurosurgical unit.
Once there I was seen immediately by the consultant, given an angiogram and told that I had a burst aneurysm that would require clipping. Luckily I was still conscious, not confused (well no more than normal) and had no paralysis, so they were able to operate straight away. I was also told that I had another unruptured aneurysm on the other side of my brain.
The consultant said that they were congenital and I have had them all my life, which I found quite a scary thought - I'd be interested to find out if anyone knows how the doctors can tell if an aneurysm is congenital as I haven't been able to find out from my various searches on the internet.
The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU where I was to stay for the next 6 days. I don't speak much Italian but some of the doctors were reasonably fluent in English so we managed to communicate without too much difficulty. The care I received was amazing - the doctors undoubtedly saved my life and the nurses were angels to whom nothing was too much trouble.
During those days I had dreadful headaches, neck ache, eye ache - everything ached in fact but luckily I spent most of the time sleeping and much of the achiness had improved greatly by the time I was transferred to the neuro ward. There I realised just how lucky I had been as I was in a 4 bedded ward and my 3 companions were all bed bound, unable to speak or feed themselves.
I was confined to bed for 14 days after the bleed - they were very strict about that, I couldn't even swing my legs over & sit on the bed, I had to lay flat. By that time they'd taken my catheter out so I had to very quickly learn the Italian for bed-pan (padella, in case you ever need to know). If someone had told me that the most useful Italian word I'd learn on my holiday would be the word for bed-pan I wouldn't have believed them!
Anyway on Day 17 after the bleed I was discharged from hospital and 2 days later I flew home. That was quite a scary experience as there was a lot of debate about whether I was fit to fly and I really had to keep pushing thoughts about 'what if something happens at 35000 feet' to the back of my mind.
Thankfully the hospital doctors had insisted on having a paramedic with me for the whole journey and he was a great reassurance on what turned out to be a wholly uneventful flight. So here I am back at home, wondering if this all really happened to me. I have been SO fortunate in that I have no major lasting effects of the SAH apart from the dreaded fatigue/headaches/general muscle weakness.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been given a second chance at life and I am able to draw on lots of positives about the experience - the amazing effort of all those people on 10th March who all contributed to saving my life;
The support of family and friends; the kindness of strangers and the lovely Italian ladies I made friends with on the wards - although we couldn't speak each others language, we still managed to have a laugh about the pain of having needles inserted and sticking plasters removed (we decided that 'ouch' is a universal word, understandable in any language).
I've done a lot of internet searching since I've been back as I had no advice on discharge other than 'take it easy' and it's been great to find the BTG site as I've learnt so much and everyons seems so friendly and welcoming and, most importantly, has first hand knowledge of SAH and its effects.
I had an appointment to see the specialist neuro nurse in Cardiff last week who was very helpful and gave me some booklets and I heard from her today that they want me to have another CT scan to check on the untreated aneurysm. The Italian doctors seemed to think it would be suitable for coiling.
I'm in a bit of a quandary about that as I really don't fancy another op (although I know it won't be as invasive as the craniotomy), but on the other hand I don't want to have a 'time bomb' ticking away in my head for the rest of my life either. I guess it's a dilemma that many people on here will be familiar with.
Anyway I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I've enjoyed reading all of yours and I look forward to talking with you in the future.
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