Immediate Diagnosis Saves Life | My Doctor Recognized Serious Symptoms. Nicole L’s Story

When my twins (my 4th and 5th children) were nine months old, I picked one up from his crib one morning. I suddenly was in more pain than I’d ever felt in my life. I yelled for my cousin, who was the only other one home, cause I knew I needed someone to take the babies. The time after was sort of blurry. I got in bed and was in and out of consciousness, sometimes waking up to vomit.

My doctor recognized my serious symptoms and immediately got me into an MRI. It turned out not to be a full rupture, and I was extraordinarily fortunate.
A brain aneurysm wasn’t on my radar ever. My boyfriend in college’s best friend died of one when we were in our early twenties. Otherwise, I knew nothing of them; it never crossed my mind. I learned later my grandmother had had one too, but my dad was adopted, so I didn’t know.

I was 30 years old, in optimal health, super active, and didn’t smoke or drink or anything.

My aneurysm had three daughter sacs, and my MCA artery had severely deteriorated. My surgeon told me I was fortunate that the aneurysm was on the verge of a catastrophic rupture that I probably wouldn’t have survived. They performed a craniotomy with three clips and reinforced the artery with muslin gauze. By all medical standards, I had a wonderful recovery.
But by my own expectations, I just feel like life is completely different now. This isn’t what I ever expected, and I’ve never felt the same. I can’t form memories the same way, I forget so much, and I get tired so much more easily. I feel like I don’t remember a whole year of my children’s lives. I know I’m incredibly fortunate, but I’m also sad for the time I missed.
I had a second aneurysm, too, on the other side, but much smaller and in much better shape. They gave me the option to treat it too, but it’s also only possible through craniotomy. I’ve chosen to wait and watch because I can’t imagine going through that again. For the week approaching my annual MRI, I get pretty anxious and afraid they’ll tell me I have to go through another craniotomy. And everything that could go wrong. But so far, so good. So the rest of the year, I just try to forget about it.

It makes me sad and feel misunderstood how little is being done for aneurysm research. Most people don’t understand what I’ve been through and why I’m forgetful and tired. I hope experience can be used to improve the experience of aneurysm patients.