Feeling Guilty about being Lucky

On February 19, 2014 I sustained a SAH as a result of an aneurysm that burst. In general, my work calls for me to travel a great deal, domestic and international, and when I am visiting work locations they can be quite rural and remote. For whatever reason, on Wednesday February 19, I was in Houston TX, less than 10 miles from a Level 1 Trauma Hospital, and gifted neurosurgeons, and assisted by wonderful emergency responders from the Houston Fire Dept.

I have memories of the initial searing headache, and some of the ambulance ride. There are brief memories of my wife arriving at the hospital with my boss, but mostly it’s a dark period of about 10 days. I’m told I endured quite a bit of pain (headaches and neck-shoulder pain), and I called a close friend and told him that I was at the end, and expected to die. Mostly though, the dark days are just that…time in a black hole.

Finally, daylight began to shine through and I made it out of ICU and into a general neurology ward, and after another week, I was released to fly home.

Once home, I was weak and struggled with physical activity and balance. As PT and OT, and my personal dedication to getting back on the exercise bike and rowing machine began to build strength back, each day seems to bring improvement. I will admit to having some issues with headaches and sensitivity to noise, but it doesn’t seem to be anything that detracts from the quality of life. I am not particularly burdened with emotional moments, or depressions, although I will say I am quicker to tears now than ever in my life. In three days I will have my initial follow-up with a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and both my primary care physician and myself expect a release to drive and return to work and travel. In my mind, I don’t anticipate and long lasting effects?

My wife and I have had lots of discussion since we’ve been home and I am at a loss to make sense of what has happened, and particularly the apparent minimal lasting affects. Rationally, I realize the seriousness of what I experienced, and the incredibly fortunate timing and location, when it occurred. I recognize that luck of the draw, on many other days might find me in West Africa, or many thousands of feet underground and hours from a competent trauma center…but, I wasn’t. I was in the right time at the right place. I don’t know what to make of what has happened in my life and how fortunate I have been as I recover and regain my life. My wife says I am more “mellow”. I say life somehow seems “sweeter”. I know weekends seem to call out for inviting a grandchild to spend the day, and stay overnight for Sunday pancakes… and the occasional “behavior” problems that can surface when dealing with kids are just momentary and changing my example of behavior seems to smooth out most problems. Mostly, though, I just can’t seem to make sense of what has happened to me.

I have been humbled at the outpouring of support and prayer from family and friends. I have found my way back to regular prayer. I seem to have reminded myself that every moment is worth celebrating, no matter its positive, or negative impacts.

If there are any emotions, I will admit to guilt. I feel very guilty for the emotional turmoil I’ve put my wife through. We were fortunate enough that my company immediately flew my wife to Houston, to be at my side and accompany me through recovery and my return home. I’m afraid that her time at my side, particularly during the days in the black hole took a toll on her. I can sense the worry when I flinch, or have a bad headache. I can only imagine how she’ll feel when I resume work and travel. I don’t know how I can make her feel comfortable and lift her worries.

I have to admit guilt for being here writing this and explaining how I had a day go incredibly bad, but for some reaason I’ve been allowed to pass through the treatments and rehab and really just dust off my sleeves and go back to my old life, with no life-altering side affects. Who experiences an event like this and walks away unscathed??

I have…and that’s why I am a Lucky Man

Wow lucky! awesome story! thanks for sharing, you survived because you have a lot more to do here on earth, don't feel guilty-its how its supposed to be, what our loved ones prayed for-its all good, life is fleeting and can be snatched away at any time so just take it one day at a time and when your worklife resumes it will be time- just think and convey positivity and your wife will adjust, anyway good to see you sharing already- thank you- its how we learn from one another!~~~

(((Luckyman)))

It worked you shared your story on the front page...and what an inspiring story...Don't feel guilty...it gives everyone hope...if I were you I would shout it out..." I am a Luckyman "... You go...Wishing you a great afternoon...~ Colleen

Wow! Your story is so much like mine! I won't go through the details but the series of events that happened the day of my rupture (1/17/14) are incredibly lucky and leave my docs, friends and family with their mouths hanging open! I literally could have killed our youngest children because we were only minutes away from leaving for a quick vacation and my husband was driving separately.....that's only ONE element of luck we experienced. I also can totally relate to the "black hole" you are talking about. I remember nothing and, when I awoke, had a hard time decyphering how I knew my husband (just knew he looked familiar). His (and others) accounts are of me being conscious and fighting medical staff with breathing tube, etc. I just don't remember....only fragments of the week leading up to the rupture are coming back to me. Anyway, I know what you feel regarding the guilt. I know I put my husband through hell and read about children dying from aneurysms. It breaks my heart and I struggle to find the meaning in it. Survivor's guilt is not fun but I AM lucky to be alive!

Thank you for your kinds words…I have to say, seeing you are from South Carolina that I had to imagine your words with the sweet voice of Southern Women! We must be here for some purpose…for someone we can support when they need it most?..to live a life that is an example of faith, grace and mischief…and be an example to others?

…and that’s why I am a Lucky Man!

I understand. I was driving when this happened to me 02/24/14. I remained conscious, though confused, and drove on to the nearest hospital. They rushed me to OKC. I have made amazing progress with PT and have already finished OT. Occasionally I have a day that seems like no progress, but I know better. I force myself up and exercise more than required. I came through the surgery fine, but had a vasospasm (sp?) that caused left side weakness. I left the hospital with a walker, but have not used it in a week. The therapists are always telling me how great I'm doing compared to others. I too wonder how I was so lucky. And I see the worry and concern in my daughters. It all happened so quickly that I didn't have time to recognize how serious it was until well after the surgery. Like you, I feel like my loved ones were effected more than myself. I think it was because there was not enough time for me to realize what was happening.

Luckyman, Awesome story !!

I think there are quite a number of us here who can completely relate -- I myself pretty well walked away unscathed after a rupture/coil/6 week coma ( although they didn't think this would be the case.)..I happened to be at work when mine ruptured and I had very recently clued the entire staff in on my aneurysm history/ surgery from years before--and told them that if i'm ever found on the floor then to let the Emergency Responders know my history--which is exactly what happened. Peace to you and yours as you settle in to the fact that you're a Survivor with lots more to do in this lifetime !

Janet

Janet,

Did yours re rupture or did you have another aneurysm?

Lucky Man,

Yes I have a southern drawl....indeed! LOL ....and I hope I can be some kind of example or help to others!

Sandy..

I had a large annie clipped back in 1998, no rupture...but I did have a rupture for another annie 8 years later, which was coiled while I was in a 6 week coma ...walked away from that one, went another three years til my coils compacted in a big way (pain just like I remembered the pain was when mine ruptured and put me in la la land for the 6 weeks) but it was not another annie I learned, it was my compacting coils and the pain was all the bleeding into my brain due to the compaction--not fun--so I was able to have the coiled annie clipped in 2010.

..Wait a minute here..how come I can't hear your southern drawl..?! (Lol, Take care )!

The coils collapse? No one mentioned that.

In my follow up visit with Neurologist, I was told I maybe have a 1% greater chance than the rest of the population! to experience another aneurysm. You’ve experienced multiples?

The South Carolina lilt is probably there…if we listen hard enough.

Hey y’all (how’s that?) ;0)
I did have multiple aneurysms! Two that have been treated and one very small one we are watching. Not quite sure if it is one or a ‘kink’ in the artery.

Wow…I’m trying to just put this behind me and get on with life… but, in the back of my mind there’s a little fear of another one happening…

I hear it now--oh yeah, that 'lilt'--lol (thanks for pointing that out LM)!

Now for the not so great news to hear: yeah , multi's are not that uncommon or infrequent, so I personally discovered that one the hard way --my first Neurosurgeon didn't bother to tell me "hey keep an eye out 'cuz it might happen again"--nothing. I thought after my 1998 clipping it was a done deal, go on with life, and that lightning wouldn't strike twice...well, I was wrong, go figure.

LM, an aneurysm that has ruptured and coiled has a much higher incidence of that same coil/annie needing to be re-addressed at some point in the future...I was told the odds are roughly 1 out of 4 coiled aneurysms will require future care (more coils added or in my case, clipped). However, if an annie is coiled BEFORE rupture, the chances of needing more coils due to compaction are much less. So be sure to get your follow up scans in the future, made sure your coils are snug, and that there are no new surprises pending...This IS behind you now, and it sounds like you're doing just fine .

I think a lot of people who have one ruptured aneurysm already have other unruptured ones. Perhaps the 1% chance of another one is if it has already been determined that you do not presently have any others.

Thank you for the advice about the future. I hope that IF the lightning strikes again, I’m somewhere near medical care!

I am being scheduled for some follow up imaging this Summer. I’ll definitely make them a priority in my calendar…and pay close attention to the conversations with the doc.

Lucky man,

What an awesome story and I should probably rename myself "lucky woman" because my story parallels yours in many ways. I took have that black hole, but mine lasted about 25 days. I too, essentially walked away from this unscathed, back to work in 9 weeks. I honestly think that the whole episode was definitely more traumatic for my family than for me. I am very reluctant to tell my husband when I have a headache, for fear he's going to want to rush me to the hospital again. I just keep reassuring my husband and kids that I am fine and doing what I'm suppose to do. Best wishes in your continued recovery.

Mary

Luck Girl!!

This Wednesday will be 10 weeks since the unfortunate incident. In many ways I’ve “taken my life back”, but in some little but turns out important ways, I haven’t. Like many have observed here, I find that I need far more sleep than ever before in my life. I’ve found some memory slips that I never would have allowed to happen before, and as time passes I find that when I am a little stressed or tired my speech suffers. Either my speech will come slowly and slightly slurred, or I will be unable to find the words I wanted to say.

I came home from the hospital determined to take my life back and I really have made huge strides, but these seemingly “little” things remind me everyday of what happened. They make me feel “different” from my friends and family. It seems like the only one I can talk with is my wife, and then it brings back bad memories of the hospital recovery and initial home recovery.

When do the days start to flow and I’ll forget that this even happened to me? Can anyone share that??

imo you never forget, also stress seems to compound all of the issues you mentioned, concentrate on the positives and don't beat yourself up when you slip up- even non-annie people do it!! hang in there it does get better- baby steps at a slow pace!

Lucky...thank you for sharing this with us...

We all have so many diff capacities...some that seem to advance, others that fade/correct... others that remain unchanged...

We can share much more as time goes on...

Best wishes...for talking with your neuro-docs re: your current status and any changes...

Pat