Becca Kiernan’s Story

It was like any other busy week day. My husband, David, and I were rushing to get ourselves and our two kids out the door for a busy Thursday at school. David and I are special education teachers and work at the same school together.
Our oldest was already on the bus and off to kindergarten when David went to take his shower. I was busy getting our 2 year old son ready for school when I heard a loud thud.

That’s a weird noise, I remember thinking. I called for David, but he didn’t answer. I yelled for him again, but still no answer. My mind panicked and I rushed down to the basement to find David unconscious in the shower.

I fortunately had enough wherewithal to get our neighbor, Trae, who is an ICU nurse. I was in shock and unable to speak, but he rushed over and followed me to the basement. Trae was able to call 911 for me and David came back to consciousness while the EMTs were loading him onto the stretcher.
David was confused as to what happened and had a terrible headache, but somehow remained coherent. He knew the date, that he was to have a meeting at work that day, and was very concerned about the big commotion he was making in our neighborhood as people were trying to get to work.
Once at the closest hospital, a CT scan revealed a ruptured brain aneurysm. David was flown via helicopter to a level-I stroke center hospital 40 minutes away. His neurosurgery team decided to coil the aneurysm via catheter in his femoral artery.

The coil embolism was successful. David remained in the ICU for 14 days, as they monitored for vasospasms post-rupture. He thankfully continued to improve each day, and was fortunate that his biggest pain was being away from our two young kids who were too young to visit the ICU. On day 15, David was released home and our kids had their daddy back again.

At David’s 3 month angiogram checkup, the doctors discovered that his aneurysm was recurring due to the coils not stabilizing the pressure of blood flow around the aneurysm. The aneurysm had grown, so his neurosurgery team offered two options: 1) another coil embolism or 2) a craniotomy to clip and obliterate the aneurysm.

David elected with the clipping + craniotomy, and he had the surgery 6 months after his initial rupture. However, the clipping was successful and obliterated the aneurysm.

It has been one year since David’s initial event. David’s recovery has been steady and he’s worked hard to maintain his cognitive abilities through word games, board games with our kids, and returning to work. While he still struggles with very mild aphasia, abulia and neurofatigue due to the initial bleed, he is back to teaching with a new appreciation for the special education students he works with.