04 April 2008

Aneurysm — A real headache

I started this blog to talk about my quest to eat well and stave off migraine, but about a month ago I had a life experience that made all my headaches seem trivial. The night of March 4th my husband, who has lived most of his life headache-free, suffered a brain aneurysm and nearly died. Most people who experience this do not survive, and if they do, suffer some level of disability. The survival statistics are truly frightening. About half do not make it to the hospital and another 25% do not survive the next month.

My husband Kurt was one of the lucky ones. I was with him when it happened and I was able to get help for him quickly. Everything worked the way it is supposed to work. I called 911, the operator talked me through CPR until the paramedics arrived and they arrived quickly and did all the right things. We are also fortunate to live less than 20 miles from the best trauma center on the West Coast — Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where they have doctors that specialize in treating aneurysms. 

Kurt was transported there less than an hour after arriving at the emergency room and spent the next 10 days in intensive care. They were able to drain off the damaged cerebral spinal fluid and repair the aneurysm and Kurt is now home recovering. Through the miracle of modern medicine and his lifetime of healthy living and just plain luck he is pretty much the same as he was before the incident—just sporting a new haircut as they had to shave a good portion of his head while in the hospital. He sometimes has trouble remembering the right word for something, but at our age, we all have word-finding troubles and his are no more noticeable than that.

We are so grateful to all the people who took part in saving Kurt and to all our friends and family who were there for us. In the first few seconds after it happened, I thought I had lost my husband and I spent hours wondering if he would wake up, hoping  he would recognize me and then days wondering if our lives would ever be the same. Now it is starting to seem like a bad dream and our lives are slowing going back to what they had been.

So forgive me for not posting on this site or any other for the last month, but I have been just a little bit busy and preoccupied. I did learn that it is possible to find gluten-free food in the hospital cafeteria, which really saved me as I spent a good portion of the first two weeks there. My own headaches flared up at first due to the lack of sleep that first night, I expect. Other than that, things have not been too bad for me. It does help to see someone else in far more trouble than you to put things in perspective. For many reasons, I feel very lucky.