On June 7, 2014, our day was spent at one of Chelsea's favorite places, the beach. It was her 19th birthday and I wasn't shocked that she chose to spend it at the beach because I knew how much she loved going any chance she got. What I didn't know was that would be the last time we would go together. You see, our lives drastically changed when Chelsea woke up the next morning with the worse headache ever. She told me that morning on the phone that Tylenol didn't help the pain. She even tried an ice pack to ease the pain but it hurt for even the ice pack to touch her head. She then started crying. Chelsea was 26 weeks pregnant and my first thought was that something had happened to the baby and somehow caused this horrible headache. I told her that I was coming to get her and her husband to go to the Emergency Room. Little did I know that would be the last time I heard her voice.
Chelsea was suffering from a massive brain bleed and it was the cause of this terrible headache. She had started to feel nauseous, feeling as though she was going to pass out so her husband, Brian, called 911. When the paramedics arrived she answered their questions and told them "her head felt funny". Within minutes she collapsed. She was taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital and it was discovered that she had a brain bleed. That was all we knew and she needed to be airlifted to a hospital with a trauma unit. After what seemed like forever and nothing being done to help stop the bleed or reduce the pressure on the brain she was finally airlifted to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainsville, Florida.
Upon her arrival, due to her being pregnant and trying to protect the baby, she wasn't able to undergo certain tests to determine if the bleed was due to an aneurysm or an AVM. We were told the worse news ever, our daughter, Brian's wife, and Jase's mother was brain dead. We were advised to take her off the ventilator and let them both go or we could have the baby delivered then, but his chances of living were slim and if he did live, there would be a high chance of many birth defects. As a family, we choose to not give up.
A drain was then put in to relieve pressure on the brain. Various physicians and medical staff told us that her body would start to shut down and the baby would need to be delivered at any time. Our minutes turned into hours, hours to days, days to weeks, and then into months. Chelsea never regained consciousness and had very little brain activity but her body fought for the baby. This was not what anyone wants to face with a loved one, especially one of your children. Chelsea and Brian's baby boy was a true miracle after what he and his Mommy had endured. Jase was delivered in July at 32 weeks by C-section and today is a thriving six-year-old in first grade. He knows he has a Mommy in Heaven that gave him life and loved him more than her own. He is now being raised and loved by his Daddy and his earthly Mama Hannah. He is loved by many including a little brother and sister.
At the time, my thoughts were, a year earlier we were planning Chelsea's wedding, shortly after her marriage we got the news our baby was having a baby, then we were looking at baby items in anticipation of Jase's birth in September. Now, without a miracle we would soon be planning her funeral. We couldn't just give up on her after all the fighting her body did to save her baby, we had to fight a little longer for ours. Sadly, Chelsea's body did start shutting down and she didn't recover any more brain activity. So, instead of her giving life to her son in September as planned, she left her earthly home on September 30, 2014.
Before Chelsea's rupture, I didn't know much at all about brain aneurysms or AVM's. I did know the outcome of an aneurysm rupture was usually not very good and I thought it didn't happen that often. I wish I had known then what I know now. I wasn't aware of any of the causes, symptoms, or the impact these conditions have on your life as well as your families. My goal is to spread awareness and help educate as many people as possible to keep them from experiencing the loss our family has. It is so important to become educated, know the facts, and pay attention to your symptoms. Be aware of the symptoms of your family and friends as well. Being persistent and acting quickly could save a life.