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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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