My name is Liz and I live in the Scottish Borders. I am recovering from a SAH and ruptured dissecting aneurysm which happened on 14/2/09. Apparently this was not my first bleed. We now know that my first bleed was in March 1997. It had happened after I saw my two sons off to Cubs and my daughter was at a friends for tea. My husband works in Edinburgh (35 miles from home) and wasn’t home yet. I experienced an horrific head ache with water pouring out of my eyes. I couldn’t do anything but lay on my bed. It was two hours before my husband arrived home but by that time I had been sick and taken strong pain killers. My headache was bearable and all I wanted to do was sleep. I assumed that I had had a very bad migraine and got on with my life!
Fast forward to 17/1/09. I had been out with some colleagues from work for a curry. I had been tired during the day and didn’t really feel like going out but went anyway. By 9.30 I just didn’t fell right and went home. About 5am on the Sunday morning I woke up being sick. I managed to get to the bathroom. In between vomiting I would have this pounding headache. I put this down to red wine and a curry. At work on Monday I noticed that one of my eyes had blood in it. We assumed that I had burst a blood vessel whilst being sick as it was quite violent.
At the end of my working day on 10/2/09 I had to attend a meeting. At the end of this I told a colleague that I didn’t feel right and had a bit of a headache. My husband was stuck in a meeting and couldn’t give me lift home. I got the bus; it’s only a 10 minute journey. When I got off the bus I still didn’t fell right, that’s the only way I can explain how I felt. Then bam, and my head was pounding. I tried to get home but couldn’t walk and went down on my haunches. I phone my 17 year old son and he picked me up. He wanted to take me to the hospital but I insisted he take me home. I went to my bed after taking strong painkillers. I went to work the next day! I still had a bit of a headache but coped. (I should say that I am a hospital administrator!). I didn’t make to work on the Thursday as I had a stiff neck and couldn’t turn to the left. My colleagues urged me to see my GP. I didn’t have the energy and slept the whole day. I felt a bit better on the Friday, didn’t want to not go to work as it was my birthday and didn’t want people to think I was skiving. Coped with my work.
Saturday 14/2/09 going out to dinner with family to celebrate my birthday. I had been very tired during the day, so much so I cancelled my appointment at the beautician. I Really didn’t want to go out but I went. We got to the entrance of the restaurant and I said “oh no”, then bam. The most horrendous headache. I was insisting that I be taken home. My husband wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused. At home he called NHS 24 and the nurse there dialed 999 and the ambulance arrived within minutes. I was still insisting that I didn’t want to go. The doctors at my local hospital told me how sick I was and what they suspected had happened. The CT can was negative but the lumbar puncture was full of blood. On 15/2/09 I was transferred to Edinburgh Western Infirmary’s Neurological department. The Neuroradiologist again told me how sick I was and after the angiogram explained the treatment I needed. On 18/2/09 I had 9 coils put into my left vertebral artery to block it off. It was too dangerous to just coil the aneurysm. Tests showed that my right artery was capable of taking on the work of the left. He also then gave me statistics. He said that 80% of people with their first bleed make it to hospital but only 15% of people with a second bleed make it to hospital. He had no statistics for me. Both he and the Professor of Neurology told me I was a miracle. They have no idea what caused it, I don’t smoke, drank very little (now not at all), didn’t have high blood pressure (but I do now since June) and there is no family history. I was in hospital until 24/2/09 . I was laid flat until 22/2/09. I was discharged home. The Professor didn’t want me to go to my local hospital. He said I needed sleep , peace and quiet.
I know I am very, very lucky. Not only to survive this but to have so few problems, but the first time I had heard anything about aneurysms was when I was taken to hospital. Also the Edinburgh staff had told me that it was aneurysm season! They expect patients with this when the seasons change. So when winter is finishing, they are busy and again when summer becomes autumn another influx of patients. I never knew the significance of a headache coming on suddenly and have been struggling with headaches since I had my daughter in 1986. No doctor ever warned me to take action if this happened.
I have some weakness in my left arm, I can be forgetful (but that could be my age, I’m 49) and I tire much more easily. I had a lot of hair loss at about 2 months but my consultant says this can happen. They don’t know whether it’s being seriously ill or the radiation in angiogram that causes it but it has now started to grow back. I was feeling fantastic in June and then my blood pressure shot up. No one knows why but it has taken 3 months to get that under control. I will be returning to work late November on a phased return basis and I have to have an angiogram sometime in February 2010. My oldest son’s friend lost his mother on 18 September to a ruptured aneurysm. I count my blessing at least once, if not more, each day.