I would like to share my mom's story on this forum and I hope it inspires and provides support to all those going through this and the family who is equally affected. During my mom's ordeal, this forum has been a huge support and inspiration to me (and my family.) I hope my mom's story also provides the same support/inspiration to others out there.
March 7, 2013 started like any other ordinary day, I went to work at 8am. My mom, Cecile, 63 a homemaker since I was little and my dad, Ernie, 67, a retired pilot and military were both at home. Both my parents are active in a Christian Community Service as group leaders. At approximately 11am, as my mom was just getting ready to meet with one of her community members for lunch, she complained to my dad of having a sever headache. When he noticed is was unlike any other headache my dad has seen, he called 911 immediately (and thankfully he did because my mom's survival for her life has started "ticking" at this point - I keep saying to my dad that he saved mom's life).
My mom laid on the bed hoping for her headache to subside, but it did not. She started vomiting and her headache was becoming more severe. The paramedics arrived quickly and administered some tests. She was asked if she could walk to the ambulance. She said she could but the walk was unbalanced which needed alot of assistance and she was still vomiting. (From this point, my mom does not remember any of the events that followed). My mom was in alot of pain. On the way to the hospital my dad recalls that it looked like my mom just lost consciousness.
Got the message from my dad and I immediately drove to the hospital. I met my dad at the emergency room of Toronto East General where all of the family members started to come. We were told by the emergency surgeon that my mom has bleeding in her brain. He had to put her on a breathing machine and administer medication to regulate blood pressure and pain. We were told that my mom was in a coma and now 'fighting for her life'. The emergency doctor told us that she will have to be moved to Toronto Western Hospital which specializes in neurosurgery. All of us were in shock and at a loss.
At around 5pm, mom arrived at the Toronto Western Hospital. After a CT scan and Angiogram, it was confirmed that my mom had a 14mm. ruptured aneurysm and scan shows a significant amount of bleeding to the left side of her brain, later classified as a Sub-arachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH). The doctor, Dr. Ivan Radovanovic, talked to the family and told us that mom needs to go through surgery immediately so he can "clip" the aneurysm. The "Coiling" procedure was not an option at this point. Again, we were all at a loss - a feeling of devastation and confusion.
Mom went to surgery that same day at around 8:30pm. We were anxiously waiting. The surgery took up to 6hours. Around 3am, the doctor came out and told us he put 3 clips on my mom's aneurysm and told us it was a very complex procedure due to the aneurysm's size and amount of bleeding in my mom's brain. I am thankful to my mom's surgeon, Dr. Ivan Radovanovic for saving my mom's life and doing one heck of a job. However, he could not say or describe the extent of damage the SAH has caused. It is only when my mom regains her consciousness can we tell what the damage has affected. We still had so many questions at this point left unanswered. "When will she wake up?", "Will she have any physical disabilities?" "Will she remember us when she wakes up?", "Will she remember anything?", "Will she be able to talk?" - All of which can only be answered in time. It was like I could hear my mom's voice in my head which she would always tell me, "Nick, be patient." And this would be one of the advise I would like to share to those family members going through this... Be Patient! And for sure, my patience was really tested. Seconds felt like hours, minutes like days and hours like months. I did not have any appetite to eat, thoughts were going through my head. We fought to remain positive. At this point family support was key. Prayers and comforting words from others really helped. Reading stories on this forum also was an inspiration.
My mom was still fighting for her life. She was in an induced coma right after surgery in the ICU specialized for patients coming out of neurosurgery. I would like to extend my appreciation to all the nurses who took care of my mom at the ICU (2nd Flr). It was really difficult to see my mom go through this. The family would take turns in the ICU room. During her coma, a good sign was that my mom's legs were moving. Another positive sign was that and her arms were moving when the nurse administered an "inflicted pain on her shoulder" as a test. The nurses would do this every hour to ensure my mom doesn't go into a "deep sleep" and to monitor movement in her arms and limbs as they are looking for signs of vasospasms (constricting blood vessels in the brain which can be seen if a limb is not responsive which is a common sign of vasospasm).
Each day, mom would show a sign, that I could tell, she is 'getting better'. These are some of the signs I have noticed:
Day 1, swelling has subsided. After the surgery she had so may tubes and IVs tuck to her ( each one I looked up and researched on) and had its own purpose.
Day 2, swelling subsided significantly and I can tell that there is color coming back to her face.
Day 3, more movement coming from her legs and arms during the nurse's hourly-administered tests.
Day 4, still in an induced coma, she opened her eyes for 2 seconds.
Day 5, she would open her eyes for 3 seconds, although it looked like a blank stare, it was a huge sign.
Day 6, I could notice facial expressions - one was like she was smiling and one where her face would grimace when the nurses were doing their tests.
Each small sign we noticed gave us "hope". Each leg movement, each facial expression, each second her eye opened, we rejoiced in our own personal way.
March 15, 2013, 7 days after her surgery, she woke up! The classification of "waking up" is that she responds to commands like "squeeze my hand" and/or "show me a thumbs up". She was moved a step down ICU. Here, she spent 2 more weeks. During those 2 weeks, the hospital nurses took her for 'assisted walks' in the hall way of the hospital. Her memory slowly came back. Her voice was hoarse but that was due to the breathing tube that was in her throat for 7 days.
Today, April 25, 2013, having been an in-patient at the Bridgepoint Rehab Centre (special thanks to the therapists and doctors here!), my mom is looking forward to being fully discharged on May 1 and back at home and start her "New Normal".