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New Member - Joanna


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Hi there

I've just joined 'behind the gray'. Late November I was teaching my Grade 12s when I got a sudden, severe headache. I went to get painkillers and luckily one of the office staff realised I needed more than paracetamol. An ambulance was called, a CT scan was done and I was told I had a bleed on the brain as I was pulled out of the machine. I have to admit I had pretty much come to that conclusion myself. I then had to be transferred to another hospital where I needed immediate surgery.

You all know the way I was feeling I am sure as my blood pressure was through the roof and my limbs were numb. I thought, "this is it....". But to make things that much more difficult we had only just moved to Japan (from New Zealand) in August. English is not widely spoken where we are and I had not really had a chance to learn much Japanese. 'Diajoubu' was said to me a lot by the doctors and nurses....

I was diagnosed with SAH caused by a ruptured aneurysm. The doctor explained (through a translator) to my husband that it was right in the middle of my brain so a coil was much safer option than trying to do a clip. He was also told all the other terrible statistics.

Luckily, I came out of the surgery with little obvious damage. They said I would need to have spinal taps every day for a couple of weeks but in the end I only had to have them about 5 times. They decided to stop them for some reason. I did have severe headaches for a couple of weeks. The Japanese tend to dish out far less painkillers than Western doctors.....

After a few weeks I had more MRIs and a catheter exam. This exam showed a remnant of the aneurysm that the coil was not covering.

I've been home for about 2 months now and have had another MRI recently that seems to show that the remnant has gone but they won't know for sure until the next catheter exam.

My eyesight is definitely worse. I have had to get glasses for computer work. I am also starting to realise that my short term memory has been affected. I still get headaches at times but I only take the painkillers now as needed.

Anyway, so that's my story in brief. I would love to hear from anyone else who has gone through this in a non English speaking country. Although the medical staff have been lovely in both the hospitals I was in, it has been frustrating and difficult either making myself understood or understanding them. A lot of my questions went unanswered.

Thanks for reading!


Edited by Joanna
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Hi Joanna :)

A very warm welcome to BTG !

Glad you found us :) You will find lots of helpful information and support here.

It must have been very scary for you not speaking the language, but so glad they looked after you well.

I personally had my SAH here in the UK so cant help you on that side of things but if anyone can they will post.

Feel free to ask questions and join in the forum discussions.

Look forward to hearing more from you.

Take care xx

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Hi Joanna,

I had mine in the UK so I am no help x

Mine was coiled also, I also got hydrocephalus so had to have shunt put in head to drain away excess brain fluid.

It is a long haul but it does get better.

Wishing you well and welcome to BTG xx


Edited by Winb143
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Hi Joanna

I was taken ill abroad with my intracerebral haemorrhage, although the doctors did speak English and I didn't actually require any procedures being carried out, so my situation is quite different from yours. I was in St Lucia in the Caribbean when I suffered my bleed, but whilst the doctors did speak reasonable English, there wasn't a single neurologist on the island! As a result, I ended up being flown to Miami, US on a medical flight, where they had a lot more experience dealing with this kind of thing! I'm now at the 4.5month stage and still suffering with occasional headaches/migraines and fatigue, although I'm definitely improving. I've just started doing a bit of work from home a couple of days a week (my longer term outlook is a bit uncertain as the bleed was in the visual processing part of my brain so I have lost some of my vision leaving me currently unable to drive!).

Have you managed to get yourself referred to an English speaking neurologist in Japan? That might be a good idea so you can at least speak to someone who can help with any queries you may have?

Good luck with your recovery.

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  • 3 weeks later...


You don't have to be in a foreign country to not get answers - it can be just as bad at home! The trouble is, until it happens to you, you don't know what questions need answering anyway! Until it happened to me I hadn't even heard of the condition.

Like Win, I had the onset of hydracephalus and like you I still have short term memory loss, although it isn't as bad now as it once was. It is a long process, my SAH was September 2010 and I am still suffering with some effects with lights, confusion at times, disorientation if I do things too fast or if I am tired etc. What you have to do is learn that you can't do what you did before in the same way, so you have to adapt and find different ways of doing them. That can be a challenge as you are out of your comfort zone and mental conditioning, but on finding the right solution for you, it can be immensely satisfying!

Be positive Jo, you can and will do it - just remember not to do too much in one go and to do things at your own PACE and you will get there in the end - remember the tortoise and the hare? You are now the latter, like the rest of us -you can win this race, as did the hare, but don't continue to judge yourself by other people's standards - judge yourself by your own newer standards because the old ones no longer apply to you.

Keep a diary and look at it from time to time - you'll be amazed at your own progress over time!

Good luck - we've all been there and we're all still here - so will you be!

Best wishes


Edited by Macca
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  • 1 month later...

Good luck Jo, I'm sure it will all be fine, don't do what I did and chose the time after procedure as a good time to read the Amazon reviews for Neet Hair removal for men .... lying still while I cried with laughter was very hard but strangely a good thing :)

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  • 1 year later...

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