As a teacher and running coach, everything seemed perfectly normal. I was out for a workout with my kids, a short interval set after school on September 29th. As an endurance athlete for the past 20 years, this was not a difficult workout, nor was I feeling strange in any way.
After leading one section of the workout, the "thunderclap"came, seizing all of the muscles in my neck and back. Not wanting to alarm my athletes, I ended practice and they jogged the 2K back to school. I tried to jog, collapsing to my knees. I thought I had thrown a disc out in my neck. I walked back, drove home, took a hot shower, ate dinner (sparingly) with my family, read the kids books, and tried to sleep. At about 11:30 that night (about 8 hours after the symptoms started, I woke up vomiting, dizzy, and generally "not there"as described by my wife. She immediately drove me to the emergency room of our local hospital. CAT scans revealed blood on my brain. Two hours and an ambulance ride later, I was in the emergency room of a larger hospital. I never considered that I could die, but my wife was both a rock and a mess! I felt so bad that I was causing everyone so much worry, and no one really explained to me what was going on. Rounds of MRIs, CAT scans with contrast, and angio., etc. and it was finally diagnosed as a SAH near my brain stem. Ten days of being a horrible (not good at the passive process) patient in the ICU, and I was cleared to go home. My children (two boys 9 and 5) were not allowed into the ICU during that time, and was overjoyed to see them. The recovery has been the most challenging. Due to the nature of the bleed, there were no additional procedures, no medication, and little chance of the vessel "letting go" again. So, back at home, I am now attempting to deal with the symptoms of something so random, so scary, and so unknown in many ways.
My life is just so different, and reading the other stories has helped me greatly. For the first few weeks, I felt alone, saddened, and isolated from everyone. There are no support groups that I have found online in the US, and although I have always considered myself pretty strong and independent, I am realizing that my family and friends are wonderful to a point. Having others that have endured this same experience sharing what it was like has validated my last two months. I spend a lot of time explaining to people that just because I don't look sick, I am not by any means feeling well. I have what my wife and kids call, "a new normal." I never took the time to realize how I felt in my own skin until the bleed. I know that things are not normal, but I don't recall now what "normal" was like two months ago.
I am back at work 3 days a week, which is a push, but makes me feel more "normal." I am trying to live as I did before, and I am finding that my limits are easy to reach. My recovery has been a bit a of a rollercoaster- moving forward, backsliding, another step forward. I am not sure how long it will take, or if I will ever feel like I am back to who I was prior. I am grateful to have my life, and sad/angry that so much is unknown. I thank all of you in advance for sharing your stories, success, and inspiration. It has made that past two months much more comforting. I look forward to learning more about my condition, what may happen in the future, and celebrating you successes along the way.