Rita Horan: A Story of Triumph

Five years after Rita Horan’s brain aneurysm rupture, she’s not only back enjoying life but getting ready to celebrate a huge accomplishment – her graduation this Saturday, June 1, from Temple University in Philadelphia. Congratulations Rita! (Note – the photo above shows Rita at this year’s Honey Bash with her daughter, Amy.)

How does it happen that you leave your house to go to work one day, healthy and happy, and don’t come back home for seven weeks? And when you come home again, you have a cane, a feeding tube, a tracheotomy wound, and a large wound on the back of your head?

It happened to me because I suffered from a large (4.4 cm) ruptured brain aneurysm at work. I don’t remember that morning at all, but I believe in angels. I know several were watching out for me.  People saw me fall in the parking lot at work. The crowd attracted another coworker, Kelly Harewood (my first angel), to the scene.  Kelly happened to be an EMT and a member of the Medical Emergency Response Team at Sanofi where we worked.  As others called 911, she took over.  She felt a weak pulse and from her experience did not think I was having a heart attack.  She suspected a brain episode and so did not perform CPR (which I was later told would likely have killed me by forcing blood into my brain).

I was transferred to Metrowest Medical Center in Framingham where the doctors confirmed a brain aneurysm.  There, the ER doctors and nurses (more angels) led by Dr. Amy Collins, intubated me and put me on pure oxygen before the transfer to Tufts Medical Center in Boston for surgery.  At Tufts, Dr. Adel Malek and his team performed a coiling procedure to save my life (more angels including ICU nurse Laura).  I was kept in a medically induced coma for two weeks and then made slow progress back to health at the Neely NeuroCritical Care Unit at Tufts. There were many complications but four weeks later on New Year’s Eve, I was transported to Spaulding Rehabilitation in Cambridge where a team of medical experts assumed my care.  Under the superior guidance of my physical therapist Emese Bod, I had to learn how to walk, talk, and take care of myself again.

It is strange to not be able to do things you have always done, and not remember how this happened.   I was determined that I would get back to 100% and get back to work.  I pictured myself walking down the hallway back at work and that motivated me to work hard in my therapy.  Emese pressed me to work hard and gave me the confidence and skills necessary to regain my ability to walk.  Other therapists provided the same support to allow me to talk, write, and perform daily tasks again.   I remain forever grateful I was able to come back 100% –  More angels watching over me!

Throughout my ordeal, I was supported by my amazing family- my husband, my three daughters, my five siblings and their families, my parents and mother-in-law, my sisters- in- law and their families, coworkers, and so many fantastic friends.   To this day, I am in awe of their love and support.  I know I would not be here now without their unwavering love and continuous support.  They are my most amazing angels, who lifted me up and carried me right through the incredible trauma.

It has been over five years since my brain aneurysm ruptured and not a day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am to be here enjoying life.

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