Saturday, October 24, 2015

I have a headache... Our journey through an Acquired brain injury Day 1

I am going to share what happened when my wife had an Aneurysm bleed while we were travelling in Australia last year. The information written here is based on my oral journals that I kept for the weeks of the ordeal and they are posted in real time but a year removed. 

Good Health is critical to a long and happy retirement and when faced with an emergency it is difficult to know how one will react. By sharing I hope that others who have gone though similar difficulties, will know they are not alone. 


It was 9:00 AM Sunday morning, we were in Melbourne having our morning tea. We had spent the night celebrating my daughters partners brothers 21st birthday party. We only had a week left in Australia and were looking forward to enjoying the last week with my grandson, my daughter and her partner. 

 We were sitting on the patio  at my partners fathers house where we staying, and my wife said:. "Somethings wrong, I have a bad headache and I cannot see or hear"  A few seconds later she said, "No, its only a migraine headache."

We talked about going to emergency or calling the paramedics with her and the others who were with us, and on her insistence we did not call anyone--big mistake. My wife can be stubborn and she would not allow us to call for help, she insisted she was fine, except for the headache. 

I finally agreed with her and she went back to the room and slept for a couple of hours. When she got up, she said she was well enough to go back to Sawmill Settlement (about 4 hours drive from where we were in Melbourne). So we left and she dozed on and off for the trip back to my daughters place. We arrived and my wife was still was not feeling well, so rather than go down to the apartment, she laid on the couch for a couple of hours.

When she decided to go down to bed, she started talking to us and we realized that something was very wrong, but my wife was not convinced; it took my daughter and I about half an hour to convince her to get into the car and go with us to the hospital. At the Mansfield Hospital the intake nurse told us that she believed that the hospital did not have the equipment needed to find the problem and that our best bet was to drive to Wangarratta Hospital where they could figure out what was wrong. The nurse in Mansfield told us that it would be about an hour to see the Dr. and then they would have to get an ambulance to take my wife to Wangarratta and that process would take about four hours.

Wangarratta was a three hour drive from Mansfield and we arrived at 11:30 PM, the emergency room was quiet, so my wife was admitted and given an X-Ray very quickly. In fact we were getting her X-Ray results, just as the patient that was in front of us at the Mansfield Hospital arrived by ambulance. 

The ER doctor told us that she had a bleed in her brain, and that she needed to get to Melbourne for an operation right away.  The Dr. put her into an induced coma, and then arranged a flight to The Alfred Trauma Center in Melbourne. We were told that they would operate on her when she arrived. They also told us that there would be only room for her on the flight.

We left to go back to Sawmill to pack and to go to Melbourne, On the trip back to Sawmill we encountered a huge thunder storm. We received a phone call about 1:30 AM from the hospital saying because of the storm, my wife would be driven by ambulance rather than flown to Melbourne and that she would arrive around 7:00 AM.

My daughter and I arrived in Sawmill at 3:30 AM and I went to pack and get a couple of hours of sleep before the drive back to The Alfred Trauma Center. My daughters partner booked the time off work and he drove us to Melbourne.

We arrived at the Alfred around 10:30 AM, but on the way we had received phone calls about permissions  procedures and other questions from the hospital but all seemed to be going as we had been told it would, so we were not worried..

While my daughter and her family were finding a place to park I went to the second floor trauma unit and was immediately met by a Neurosurgeon who ushered me into a small family room.  

The Dr. asked me to sit down and then said, "Your wife has had an aneurysm burst and we are operating on her now. She has a 15% chance of surviving the operation and if she does survive, she may be blind, deaf, paralyzed or any combination of the three.

I felt I had been hit in the stomach with a two by four, the doctor waited until I had a chance  to breathe  again and asked "Do you have any questions?"


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