On September 14, 2005, I suffered a dual brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage (a hemorrhagic stroke; my neurosurgeon referred to it as a massive bleed.) I may have been predisposed to stroke; my father had an Ischemic stroke in 1979. I suffered a major skull fracture in 1962 that was never really acknowledged as TBI. In those days, no one knew (or cared about) the comprehensive effects - emotional, physical, and spiritual - of serious head injuries.
On the date of the massive bleed, I was employed by a large public agency as a payroll and personnel specialist. I was assigned to a work site that I really loved because I felt and saw that I could make a difference in people s lives. This is some of the most rewarding activities people can be involved in helping others with no thought of a return, no conditions, no expectations. This is more precious to me than any money, prestige, position, or material enrichment. It was no small wonder that I was willing to devote considerable overtime and free time to this position. Typically, my days consisted of at least ten hours of work and whatever else I could pack into a 24-hour period; I was burning my proverbial candle at every available end.
THE LIGHTNING BOLT:
On the night of September 14, 2005, I came home and started to cook dinner. I reached under the stove for a pan and was hit with severe dizziness, kind of like the feeling prior to fainting; I said, oh my God! and blacked out. In my unconsciousness, I felt as if my head had been thrust into a bucket of ice water, and I saw (brain hallucination / vision?) dark red blood flooding before my eyes.
Some time later, I returned to consciousness on the kitchen floor with EMT personnel all over me trying to get me onto a gurney. I was drenched in sweat; I had no feeling from my chest down; I could barely speak; I could not move any part of my body no matter how hard I tried.
EMT took me by ambulance to the local trauma center (UCD Medical Center, Sacramento). That is the last of my memory of that night and of my memory until about February 2006, a period of approximately 6 months.
At the hospital, I underwent two brain surgeries. The first surgery was for clipping of the ruptured aneurysms. Next, the doctors installed a shunt to remove blood and cerebral-spinal fluid from the inside of my skull. The brain treats free blood inside the brain cavity as a foreign substance; it kills brain cells and must be removed to prevent death.
I remained in Neuro ICU for about three weeks, part of which time I was comatose. After ICU, I moved to the neuro "floor" and the hospital eventually discharged me in October 2005. I do not remember anything (or very, very little) from September 14, 2005 up to about New Years 2006. This must have been Divine, merciful intervention since I was delirious and in extreme pain for quite some time.
After a few months at home and not aware of what was going on (amnesia & sequencing issues), I began in-home rehabilitation; the areas of focus were physical rehab, speech and cognitive rehab (executive functioning), and occupational therapy. Following in-home rehab, I obtained a driver s license recertification and was able
to drive myself to the main hospital for rehabilitation.
I attempted to return to work, at first part-time and then full time. That was a mistake! I crashed and burned in that pursuit. Full time work in my occupation (Payroll & Personnel Specialist) did not work out. The stress drove my blood pressure and dizzy spells "through the roof." I also suffered (and continue to suffer) major memory and sequencing deficits.
It is difficult getting non-survivors (aka normies, civilians, earth people) to understand the gravity of stroke and TBI. Even professionals are at a loss most of the time.
Much has changed because of my stroke. Prior to the massive bleed, I was a 110%, in your face, Type A personality. I was a highly skilled specialist with considerable historical and institutional perspective on my employer