I was 18 years old when my cerebral aneurysm ruptured.
There was no warning.
On September 15th, 1999 I stood up from a squatting position and immediately felt something was wrong. It felt as if all the blood and heat in my body went to the back of my head. I had a brief sense of impending doom and then I collapsed. I felt all the strength leave me and there was a pain in the back of my head as if I had been shot. I felt like Kennedy in the Zapruder film. I actually remember thinking to myself that a stray bullet had violated my brain.
For an eternity I swam in oblivion, trying to make myself die just so the pain would stop. There was no light or tunnel, no dead loved ones to guide me, only a beautiful and unquestioning blackness.
The DMT release helped me accept my fate.
I welcomed the end.
I awoke ten to twenty minutes later. My friend was slapping my face, begging me to respond. I couldn't see. I couldn't move. All I could do was vomit and moan my need for an ambulance.
Ambulance. Clothes being cut off. Puking. I raise my left hand to try to help a paramedic remove my pants. Instead I am pissing myself.
Cold table. Deep line in groin. The whirrrrrrrrrr of a CT scanner. Angiogram.
An attending is manipulating my head and quizzing a resident about meningeal irritation and meningitis.
Helicopter. Rooftop. A dry razor cuts and pulls the hair off of the right side of my head. I cry and beg them to stop. Someone apologizes and states that there is no time to remove the hair in any other manner.
My arms are strapped to a chair and I still can't move. I see a piece of my forehead hanging in front of my right eye. I have no idea what is happening but I now know that I will never forget the sound of a Midus drill perforating cranial bone.
Three days later. I still can't walk. There is a ventricular drain in the top of my head and every time I try to change my position in bed I can feel it tugging against my skull. Viscerally, I know part of this apparatus is buried inside my brain and I am provoked ad nauseum at the thought of manipulating it.
I hallucinate from the morphine. I am strapped to the bed because I later learn that I was very confused and violent during my convalescence. At 6'6" and 280 pounds, the NSICU nurses were no match.
I have visions that I am some nameless government experiment, strapped to a gurney. I can't remember who I am or where I am. I am terrified. Whenever I look at my limbs, I see only bloody stumps. I remember weeping because I thought someone had cut off my arms and legs. This was just how my opiate-addled brain had interpreted the restraints.
I still regret that I did not wake up with an adamantium skeleton.
I feel someone shoving a rubber tube into my urethra.
I awake and I am still in the neurosurgery ICU. A resident explains what happened to me. He offers me literature.
Horrified and amazed at the same time, I read about how close I was to death.
I leave the hospital with no neurological deficits, only psychiatric scars.
Five years of nightmares and anxiety attacks. Five years of not being able to fall asleep until overcome by utter exhaustion because of the fear of some kind of nocturnal rupture.
The supposed immortality of youth has been replaced by an all-too-close reminder of mortality. What do you do when your own body turns against you? How do you run from an artery deep inside your own brain? How many of us have these thin-walled and blood-filled time bombs hidden within the supposedly sacred temple of our consciousness?
On September 15th, 1999, just months after I graduated high school, a 6mm berry aneurysm on my right internal carotid artery terminus ruptured--nearly killing me. 11 hours of neurosurgery with a titanium clip and 2 liters of blood and CSF spilled on the OR floor and I was on my way to recovery.
Today I am a resident physician in Internal Medicine at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. I graduated from Lincoln Memorial University's DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in May of 2014 in Harrogate, TN.
I offer the sincerest of thanks to the staff of the NSICU at UK Hospital in Lexington, KY.
I thank the Leslie County EMT's that got me to Mary Breckinridge.
I thank the astute staff of Mary Breckinridge Hospital in Hyden, KY for getting me where I needed to be.
I thank the flight crew that got me to UK in record time.
I especially thank Dr. Gewirtz for the second chance.