Tag Archives: brain aneurysm recovery

Depression During Brain Aneurysm Recovery

Dealing with the new you…

Brain Aneurysm is a life-changing event that affects the life of a person in every aspect. How does it feel like to go from “ normal” to being called a “survivor”? The feeling of coming to terms with the new you and letting go of the old you is what traps most survivors and wraps them around the depression face during recovery.

Depression becomes almost like a virus consuming the individual from inside out. You sought of loose yourself for a while in an identity crisis dilemma that your mind has and continues to create. You are basically existing in your own world debating on whether you are better off alive or dead.

While you are being consumed from the inside out, the people around you start to be affected as well. They feel like they have reached a burn out point and underappreciated. This is the point where things start to fall apart. Relationships break, new health concerns arise, finances become a challenge and suicide dominates the mind of the “weak.” This is the saturation point for both parties affected and intervention is a must. While most people don’t get to this point, those who do should try to seek the help of a professional immediately.

Similar to the nature of depression, healing starts from the inside and spreads to the outside. The survivor needs to discover and believe in the reason why he/she is alive. Maybe you’re alive to raise your children or perhaps your grandchildren depend on you or maybe you’re the inspiration that your church needs or the role model that your workplace looks up to or you’re simply the one that touch and changes people’s lives or you’re the reason for someone else’s happiness or maybe your story is what the world is waiting on…whatever the reason might be, try to find it. There is so much joy that comes with that feeling when you know that your life is not a mistake but a miracle and a testimony.

Recovering from a brain aneurysm or any major life-changing event is a journey with a lot of changes along the way. Like we all know, change is hard but the only key to ensure a smooth transition is choosing to concentrate your energy on what matter the most. You must focus on the positives and make the best of every moment because before you know it, that moment will soon be a mere footnote in your life’s story. So please, make it memorable.

Sometimes I look back and try to reflect on all of the changes that I have experienced in life and the reality is, nothing is meant to last forever. We go through seasons in life.

Of all the changes that I have gone through so far, the one that takes the trophy is child birth. The moment before life happens and the baby’s first cry is heard, a woman goes through intense pain. What’s so interesting is that before the baby is delivered, a woman has to experience all the stages of labor until her cervix is ready to let the baby out. It’s that magical moment that the pain is intolerable that the baby makes its victorious entrance into the world. Shortly after that, all the pain is literally replaced with joy. How magical is that!

No matter how many lemons life will throw at you during recovery, make the best of every moment by focusing on the lemonade!

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Diminished Sense of Smell and/or Taste

During recovery, a good number of brain aneurysm survivors complain of having a diminished sense of smell or taste. This can be irritating and unfortunately, it does not help reduce the anxiety that you are already suffering from. You want to be normal, you want to be able to smell that coffee and enjoy your steak without having to load it up with salt!

We know that the brain is very complex and controls just about all the functions in the body. When a brain aneurysm ruptures, the blood starts leaking into the brain. Depending on the location, quantity and duration of the blood that is leaking, several functions that the brain controls in the body becomes affected.

Diminished sense of smell and/or taste occurs due to the leaking blood that irritates the nerves that control these senses. If the aneurysm did not rupture, smell and taste deficits can occur if the aneurysm compresses the surrounding nerves. Unfortunately, these deficits may not get better with time.

Brain Aneurysm Recovery continues…: Overcoming Fear-Be Inspired

For most brain aneurysm survivors, the real challenge does not begin until healing is complete. I think the same applies to any serious illness that one might have been faced with. When I was in the hospital, my goal was to get out so I could be with my family. I missed my little children the most.

The entire time I was in South Africa, it seemed like my days were full. After discharge from the hospital, I was with the physiotherapy 3 times per week for 2 weeks while at the same time seeing different kinds of specialists to try and bring my blood pressure to at least a high or normal level. My blood pressure was still considered severely high despite being on moderate to high doses of several blood pressure medications.

The day came, however, when I was considered stable enough to return to the US under the special care of a nephrologist. That was the day that my fears begun. You see, I have always been the kind of a person who is always looking forward to change, always looking for new challenges, and willing to take risks but all of a sudden I found myself numbed by own fears existing in this self-imposed bubble. How could I be afraid of living and dying at the same time? I could not lay down and sleep peacefully without letting go of the feeling that…I might not wake up again. It was better for me to live in the moment than to face tomorrow. I recall that Monday morning in mid-September when we went to the health center at the Embassy to talk about my medical clearance and travel plans. Everything was evolved around “what can happen.” Every decision was made to ensure my safety was made a priority. The airline was chosen intentionally, the doctor had been notified and an appointment was in place upon my arrival to Dallas.  All this preparation acted as a catalyst to my self-imposed fears.

During my last appointment with the neurosurgeon in South Africa, he told me that I was one of the lucky cases he had dealt with. He said that statistics show that about 70% of people who suffer a ruptured brain aneurysm die within 72hours, and the remaining 30%, more than half of them wish they were dead. He then added that I should not limit myself on a “quality lifestyle” but rather enjoy every day to the fullest. One thing he emphasized on is the significance of the mighty power of God that surpasses all human understanding. The doctor’s words from that conversation have remained my main source of motivation. I no longer search for a role model to inspire me. I am turning myself into a role model to inspire others and let them know that if I survived, they too can survive.

For the first 6 months following my return to the US, I could not sleep well at night without taking a sleep aide. My nights were longer than my days. It seemed like my mind become alive at night held hostage and fully manipulated by my own fears. I was afraid of dying…again.

 I was afraid of talking to people due to my slow reaction times. It took some time to regain self-confidence.

I was afraid of not being able to return to work. I have always been independent and having that insecurity meant vulnerability and basically living at the mercy of others.

I was afraid of flying and high altitudes. What if I suffered a re-bleeding or another one? Basically, I was afraid of dying.

I was afraid of my kids growing up without a mother. As I was going through my healing process, I experienced a stage where I was bargaining with God to keep me healthy and long enough to raise my kids to an age where they would be independent and stable. Once in a while my oldest son always goes back to that time when he woke up only to find a stranger in the house telling him that she was there to take care of him and his baby sister until daddy who was with mommy in the hospital returned. He recalls traveling to South Africa to be near mommy while she received treatment in the hospital. Then he recalls the day he came to the hospital to see me and celebrate my birthday. After all that, he asks if I will ever leave him and his sister with strangers again. Sad indeed. I know God is with us.

I had to find an effective way to deal with my self-imposed fears. That is why I started being an active member on the brain aneurysm foundation Facebook page, started this blog, written a book which is due to be released end of this month, and started plans to form a support group in the Dallas area. I have become a doer not a talker.

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