I learned of Amanda's story over a year ago. It really made an impact with me because it was so similar to Chelsea's. Other factors of this story such as symptoms and family history, helped push me to move forward with bringing awareness. I have spoken with her aunt and was given permission to share their story in order to help make others aware of how important knowledge of this health condition really is. Please take a few minutes to read.
Amanda was oblivious to the deadly bubble growing inside her own head. The pregnant mother of two visited her doctor multiple times during her third pregnancy to address her intense headaches, nausea and blurry vision, her aunt said. But headaches and nausea are common in pregnancy, and she was told to take Tylenol and rest.
The 23-year-old certified nursing assistant’s health problem climaxed on the morning of Feb. 1, 2013. when the aneurysm in Moore’s head ruptured while she was driving to work. She died three days later, leaving her family in shock. Up to 6 percent of the American population is living with aneurysms at any given time, according to the American Association for Neurological Surgeons, and Moore was one of many whose diagnosis came too late.
One thing we’ve all learned from this is to not ignore what your body is telling you. If someone had paid more attention to this or if Amanda had been firmer and said, "This isn’t right", then we wouldn’t be in this situation and Baylar would have had her mother.” said Amanda's aunt. Amanda's mother, worked at the same place and watched her daughter’s car wreck unfold in her own car. The crash was the least of their problems. Amanda's newly ruptured aneurysm put her life, as well as her 8-month-old’s life, at risk. The crash was deemed medically caused and Moore was rushed from the location of the wreck just after 7 am. Doctors determined that her brain was bleeding and Amanda was flown to another hospital for surgery. Her baby girl, was safely delivered just after 11 a.m.
A neurologist at the hospital, said 10 percent of people with ruptured brain aneurysms die before they reach the hospital and only one-third of those who pull through surgery have good results. Amanda's family watched that statistic become reality as their beloved “Manda” went through two brain surgeries. She showed no brain activity on Feb. 4, and her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support.
“One thing we’ve all learned from this is to not ignore what your body is telling you,” Moore’s aunt said. “If someone had paid more attention to this or if Amanda had been firmer and said, ‘This isn’t right,’ then we wouldn’t be in this situation and her baby girl would have had her mother.” Many people live their entire lives with aneurysms, but diagnosis is difficult, said the neurologist. She has caught several patients’ aneurysms before they ruptured because she keeps a low threshold to run tests.
Aneurysms occur when arteries weaken in a concentrated area and “balloon,” she said, which makes people with high blood pressure, smokers and people with high cholesterol more susceptible because of the increased pressure on their arteries. People with polycystic kidney disease, lupus or connected tissue disorder, and those older than 50 also see high rates of aneurysms, she said. Amanda did not have any of these risk factors, but women are two times more likely to experience aneurysms than men, especially if they are estrogen-deficient or going through menopause.
Family history of aneurysms also is a major indication of a person’s risk. Headaches, a common symptom of cerebral aneurysms, are not the only symptom. Other signs include eye abnormality like different-sized or dilated pupils and double vision, cranial nerve palsy, face drooping, loss of sensation, sensitivity to light, blurred or double vision, stiff neck and nausea. The neurologist suggests that concerned patients ask their doctor about the possibility of an aneurysm so testing can be sought before it is too late. “The death of Amanda seems completely unnecessary,” said her aunt, “Tragic for all of us, but unnecessary for sure.”
Shortly after her immediate family was scanned. These scans resulted in Amanda's Grandmother and one of her aunts having a brain aneurysm! Both women had corrective surgeries. One chose a less invasive surgery due to her age and opted for the solution of a stint and her recovery was a couple of weeks. The other opted for the more permanent solution which involved having a craniotomy which resulted in a much longer recovery and she has experienced some memory loss of the year following the surgery but both women are doing well. That is a total of 3 aneurysms in 3 generations. Other family members were scanned and were clear but get scanned every five years. The children will be scanned every 10 years.
Janet is a SURVIVOR and wanted to share her story. By her not putting off going to the ER any longer and the emergency staff acting quickly when she arrived, played a huge role in saving her life and minimum damage.
On the afternoon of January 21, 2013, I was spending some time at one of my oldest friend’s house. Suddenly, I got one of the worst headaches I had ever had, a thunderclap headache. along with neck pain and severe neck stiffness. I laid down for about an hour without relief. I asked my friend to please take me to ER. I thought my blood pressure had spiked as it had done before (I have a history of hypertension). We were 5 minutes away, she was my angel that day. About halfway there, I was nauseous and we had to stop so I could vomit. As soon as I was in the ER, they took me immediately to have a CT scan. The CT scan showed an acute bilateral subarachnoid hemorrhage, a 6 mm ruptured aneurysm of the supraclinoid left posterior communicating artery. After I returned to my room, the doctor came in and told me I had a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. I thought he had come into the wrong room! I was admitted directly to ICU. The next morning I was taken to Radiology where they coiled my aneurysm successfully. For the first four days, I didn’t remember much and had difficulty with my speech. I was in ICU for ten days, in a regular room for four, then discharged. I was one of the lucky ones. However, as the years have passed, I’ve developed short term memory loss along with problems with sudden anger. Others have more severe deficits afterwards, such as paralysis, weakness, visual and speech problems.
I would recommend survivors to obtain a “Brain Injury Identification Card”. This is designed to help police, emergency personnel and others more easily identify brain injury survivors and insure you have proper treatment and support as needed.