Our Story

This really should be our story, not just mine. On January 23 rd 2003 I awoke early for me, as I worked nights most of my working life. Being a truck driver, and this was winter the first thing I always did was look out the window and check the weather. At this time I noticed my wife's car was in the driveway. Looking at the clock I knew she should have left for work by this time. I wondered did she have a car problem or what? I went into our kitchen, and there as her purse on the table, her coat on the back of the chair all set to go, but no Annette ( my wife ) I called out “where are you” and got no answer. It was then I noticed that the light was on in our basement, I called out “are you down there?” no answer once more. I started down the stairs and the as soon as I round the corner on the basement stairs landing I saw her, laying on the basement floor at the foot of the stairs. To this day we do not know if this is where she was stricken, or did she tumble down the stairs when stricken.
From here on things just moved at a blur! I remember she was unable to speak, except for a few incoherent mumbles, and the frantic call to 911. I opened the side door, and told the EMT's the door would open, and I went back to her laid down next to on the floor, and told her “help is on the way”.
Looking back now I realize how both blessed and lucky we were with our first responders. The EMT told me “ I am not sure, but I do not think this is a stroke as you think of it”. After our arrival at St. Margaret hospital the emergency physician on duty told me basically the same thing. He told me he wanted to run a few tests and we would go from there. After what seemed like an eternity he told me, and I remember this so clearly, “I can't handle this and neither can this hospital, you are going to the University of Illinois in Chicago right now!” Again how blessed we were that the first responders recognized that brain aneurysm for what it was.
After arrival at UIC, to make a long story short, there was failed attempt to coil Annette, so the next morning she had a craniotomy and the aneurysm was clipped. At this point I can not say enough about Dr. Charbel and his staff! The man is, and always will be my hero. As far as I am concerned he saved Annette's life.
Now, recovery that is an adventure in itself! We can now look back and have laugh at some of the shenanigans that went on. To say Annette was a handful is an understatement! There were several failed attempts to escape from the hospital. Also, my little Sunday School teacher seemed to have developed the vocabulary of a Shang Hi sailor, I didn't even know she knew those words. After I got her home she would do just about anything she was told not to do, such as go up and own stairs. Her favorite line was “I'm going to do this, now you can watch me if you want to, but I am going to do it'”
It is funny now but it wasn't then, she wore my out! But, as she came around we would make a game out of things, such as shopping for wig etc.
Now, as I look back I think her determination to do things was a blessing in disguise. She is a strong willed woman, and I think that determination helped her, in what some consider, a above average recovery time. While there are still so lingering issues such as fatigue etc. I will take what I have and be darn glad to have it, I can't even imagine my life without her. We will be married 42 years in February after that long you are almost one person.
God bless all you aneurysm survivors, but sometimes I think we forget the toll it takes on caregivers also. I went though the full range of emotions. Shock, Fear, Relief, and yes Frustration, while dealing with Annette's aneurysm, surgery, and recovery.

Welcome Jim! So glad Annette is doing well. Your story made me laugh AND cry. She is so lucky to have you in her life. It does wonders I'm sure for the recovery process. Bless you both and Happy Holidays and an early Happy 42nd anniversary! Mitch


This a great ending to a scary beginning! So happy you and Annette are doing well! And Thank God for the Caregivers!!! We could not recover without them!

Hugs and Smiles,


I was not sure how the end will be after the sad start of your story I am so happy for both of you, may God bless you and your wife Annette