Amy - Aneursym Survivor image

Amy - Aneursym Survivor

Amy is a ruptured aneurysm and SAH survivor.

Amy– Aneurysm Survivor (October 2020)

Amy is an aneurysm survivor – the professional communications manager who works in Adelaide and is mum to two young daughters, felt progressively worse during December 2019 but couldn’t work out what was going on.

“In December I felt really terrible – I had headaches, and I just wasn’t feeling quite right, and I had lower back pain so I thought it was musculoskeletal.

“Some people were saying perhaps it was a disc bulge. My body had always been quite strong, and I’d always stayed pretty fit and healthy. The constant headache was the unusual symptom looking back – I endured it throughout the month but just kept pushing on.

“I do wish I’d had an MRI early in December. It might have reduced the impact of the rupture and haemorrhage if we’d discovered it sooner – and anyone that is going through something similar – they should know that they can have a rebated MRI if they have had a headache for longer than a week or so.

“I had never had a headache for that long before, that was an inconsistency in my body. I also experienced unusual and increasing dizziness and nausea as the month went on.

“If it is a sustained headache you do get access to a rebated MRI. I encourage people to get one if this happens to them as nothing showed up on CT scans.”

She had also thought her symptoms may be related to the end of a long-term relationship and that she was undergoing a very demanding time in her life – Amy said she thought the headaches were stress-related.

“There were quite a few instances in December when I felt very unwell. Once I was riding my exercise bike and felt terrible. I experienced nausea and had a dreadful feeling throughout my whole body. But I just got on with it. Then a week later I was doing a neck stretch and I was overcome with this revolting feeling of nausea and dizziness again.

“Then I started vomiting each day for several days in a row so I presented to the Royal Adelaide Hospital emergency as that was what the GP had recommended. However, the registrar said the reported symptoms didn’t suggest the need for an MRI so I was sent home.

“I was booked in for a private MRI anyway the following day and that’s when the ruptured aneurysm and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) was discovered.

"The Radiology SA doctor sent me straight back to the RAH where I was admitted immediately and booked in for
endovascular coiling the next day. I underwent surgery on the Saturday afternoon during which coils were inserted into the rupture and by Thursday that week I had been discharged.

"I have been at home recovering ever since. It has felt touch-and-go and terrifying at times. Focusing on my beautiful daughters and how much they need me around really kept me going through some very dark times.”

“Recovery has been challenging, but I have felt better and better as time has gone on. There are some bad days, and a lot of fear at times, but overall I’ve been heading in the right direction.

“I returned to work in March which in hindsight was way too early. I recommenced another gradual return to work in July. I’m very keen to return to operating effectively in my previous role.”

“It does seem like everyone’s aneurysm experience is unique and people need useful information and strong support networks to get them through what is at times an extremely terrifying and confronting life event. I was provided with very little information when discharged from hospital and struggled to find out about my
condition, its impact, and what to expect during the recovery process.

"As a result, I am really keen to work with the NRF in any way that’s useful to promote awareness of aneurysm signs and symptoms, and also to provide better information and support post-diagnosis to aid recovery and wellbeing.

“Returning to work part-time and gradually is exhausting. This incident has had a huge impact on my work and general life capacity.

"But I am determined to continue to improve and rebuild my strength and capabilities again. I am now considering how best to restructure my work life."

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