I Survived a Brain Aneurysm
At 10pm, on the evening of 20 January 2002, I woke up with a light headache. Not thinking much of it, I walked to the bathroom and took two tablets. When I returned to bed, my husband Kevin suggested we pray. Soon after praying I felt an electric wave, combined with a pounding headache, flashing through my body - from the crown of my head all the way down to my back. I was shivering from the shock and just waited for the next wave to hit me. Kevin continued to pray and comfort me as I lay there crying...
Eventually I went to sleep and got up the next morning thinking nothing of the night before. Though I didn’t really have a headache, every time I closed my eyes it felt like seasand behind them. Two days after my late night experience, I went to the doctor. She diagnosed a headache spasm and sent me for physio. When that failed to relieve the headaches, she referred me to the hospital for tests. The specialists did a lumber-puncture, found blood on the brain and booked me for an emergency angiogram.
Making right with God
I was terrified in the hospital. The doctor told me sternly, “You should be glad to be alive…we have to do a brain operation as soon as the swelling in the brain has come down.” I could not believe it. I started crying, dumbstruck and frozen in fear. The doctor asked my husband to walk with him. When they returned I knew from the look on his face that I should prepare for the worst. When Kevin left that day, he urged me: “Please make sure that you have accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour.” Though he was born-again, I was a lukewarm Christian and we both knew that I needed to get closer to God.
Worse than the thought of death, is the thought of life after a ‘botched’ operation. I was told only 33% of people with an aneurysm survive, with the possibilities for the survivors including a life of paralysis, epilepsy or worse. My husband and I took the gamble and decided to proceed with the angiogram – but I had learnt in a very short space of time to trust God. According to the doctors, the operation would take seven hours and be performed under a microscope. I was terrified as I lay alone in the room mulling over the future. “Am I going to hell?”, “Will I make it out of the theatre?” The thoughts tortured me and I began my spiritual struggle that dark night, asking God to please forgive my sin; to please confirm that I was forgiven. I did not hear any voice or get any answer but I knew I was ready to meet God. Something in my heart changed and I knew the Lord was living inside me and that He would help me through the operation.
A terrifying time
A week later I went into hospital. The morning they came to cut my hair, I knew my time had come. I called for my children and my husband and we handed everything over to God in prayer. The atmosphere was tense in the operating room. They cut open the main vein of my right leg and began to work quickly. I could feel the stream of blood running over my body and was told not to move, but it was very difficult as I could feel the instruments prodding my body.
The sister held my head in her hands. Suddenly I felt flames burning inside my brain. I cried out trying to tell them something was wrong, but they wouldn’t allow me to move or talk. They held me down as the tears streamed down my cheeks. As I closed my eyes I could see the relentless flames. I thought I was in hell and eventually, when I was too tired to fight any longer, I fell asleep.
After seven days I was released from ICU back into the general ward though still drugged on morphine. Every morning I was injected with a blood thinner.Yet through all this, I was grateful to God for saving me spiritually and physically. Though I had survived, which was a major miracle, I did have double vision. It was impossible to walk properly and I could not go back to work.
For a month I stayed at home, helpless and struggling. I couldn’t drive, work, or see properly. I sank into a dark depression, my mind bombarded with thoughts of fear from the devil. The mind is the most powerful and easiest tool for satan to manipulate when you are vulnerable. It was a daily struggle to fill my mind with God’s Word and my hope for a future. Jer 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
I had to make a choice – to work through this and trust in God, or to give up. By the Grace of God I took the decision to fight and overcome the depression. I learnt to praise and worship God in spite of my circumstances and to thank God for everything in my life – good and bad. Sometimes when I was singing to the Lord, the devil would flood my thoughts with evil laughter and a mocking voice. It was difficult, but I knew I had to just keep focusing on Jesus and on the wonderful nature of God. God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps 22:3) and I knew that the more I kept worshipping Him, the easier it would get. My own prayers and those of my church family paved the way for my recovery and today I lead a ladies’ worship group.
Every day is a journey and it’s only by God’s Grace, His Word and His Holy Spirit that I make it through. Today I am working as a national sales manager and have almost no side effects from the aneurysm - I am a walking miracle of the Most High God! For three years I battled with double vision that the neurologists had said would only last for six months. Praise the Lord, today I only experience about 5% of that – and it is not significant enough to affect my daily life.
People often ask me if I know why I had the aneurysm. There is no family history, and often with these things it is a ‘freak’ occurrence. I know the Lord used this situation to bring me closer to Him - to save me and have a relationship with me forever. The Scriptures have comforted me and I can truly say: “…in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:2.