My Riveting Brain Aneurysm Bleed-out Survivor Story SAH #neardeathexperience #inspirational #truestory


There were 2 ½ cups of blood in my cerebral fluid when they took the CAT scan. They called a priest in to do last rites. In a moment my whole world changed. My world just stopped.

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I had an abrupt thunderclap headache (worst headache of my life that abruptly came out of nowhere) and just then the phone rang downstairs, I ALMOST lost consciousness and started to pass out from the pain and fall down but willed myself to get to the phone, it was my younger sis. My nephews Seth and Mark were begging to see me. His mom assured them they’d visit us in two months. “It will be too late, it will be too late, I have to talk to her now” he wailed.

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So his mom Jillian called me and I was l was like “no time to chat, call an ambulance”. We were so far out in the boondocks there was no ambulance service so I had to take a taxi to hospital. I don’t remember how it was paid for as I was in a fog by then, within ½ an hour I was losing the ability to speak – I thought I was speaking with the emergency room doctor but all that came out were grunts – with the worst headache of my life and unbelieveable head pain and the emergency room doctor put me on oxygen and transferred me by ambulance to the city hospital an hour away. I was in the waiting room for over 24 hours as there were no empty beds in the city hospital then finally put into ICU for a week. The nurses did put me on an IV even in the waiting room, the IV burned and burned going in, just awful. It felt like fire.


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At the city hospital they took a MRI and a CAT scan which showed 2 1/2 cups of blood in my cerebral fluid. All that fluid put enormous pressure on my brain and it just misfired. The limbic system in the brain is what is responsible for the flight or fight stress response seems to be an area of the brain affected. It felt like fear at the time. Like someone had flipped a switch in my brain and it got stuck open on fear, not just for a day but for day in and day out until the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months until 2 years had passed. And that began the dark night of my soul. My biggest fear was that I would die alone and was immensely grateful to my sis who flew out to be with me. I was able to use my experience when my grandma admitted to fearing dying alone and 5 people were with her having eye contact with her when she peacefully passed away at 108 years old. Have you ever experienced the dark night of the soul?  Do you want freedom to be your true, better self? Then you’ll want to read every word of this.

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At that time people use to convey their well wishes by saying it was better to be alive than dead, and I was like they have no idea what it is like to be in fear all the time! You’ve heard of the suffering of the mentally ill?  Well it is suffering. Well an aneurysm isn’t coping with mental illness but the feelings were close. My doc called it ‘complications to the aneurysm’. One thing I learned from this experience is that QUALITY of life does matter. It is one of the top 5 life lessons learned from my near death experience.

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And it felt like I lost all these filters and defenses that you emotionally build your whole life as you learn to navigate emotions. I’ve read that anxiety is common in those who have survived this. Anxiety doesn’t have a certain feel or appearance, I can be anxious without hyperventilating. As a complication my brain took things quite literally, which can be an endless source of humor. Sometimes it’s not so funny, like when the nurses talked about giving me sleeping pills without my doctors approval, taking things literally I remembered putting an animal down was called ‘putting them to sleep’ and I feared for my life. People say ‘the nurses can’t do that’ – give medication without the doctor’s prescription but they did brazenly talk about it and it scared me. So I’ve lived through facing my fears, especially fear of death, and it gives others permission to do the same. My message and life lessons come from real life. My neurologist was a black doctor and it was amusing to see my subconscious trusted black people even in the fog that was the aneurysm, which says a lot about the good people we knew in Africa where I was born.

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The city hospital was completely full and they had no more empty beds so I was in the waiting room for over 24 hours! They put an IV in my arm and the solution felt like fire going into my arm, it burned and burned.

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They brought a priest in to do last rites. (I’m not Catholic, that is just what happened.) My dear younger sis and niece flew from Calgary to Ottawa to come see me at the hospital but they wouldn’t even let my niece in the ICU even though she is a nurse so all she could do was stand out in the hallway making drawings for me. “Worse day of my life” she said. In ICU I was treasuring each moment with my sister who flew out to be with me. The lesson I pulled out was that family really does matter, they are what is the most important. Instead of wanting to have a mother who was a certain way, (more like my grandma) I became grateful that my mom was still in my life. I know 3 people who survived being in a plane crash, how rare is that! And my mom is one of them. My two sisters are the other two who survived a plane crash, so I’ve had an extra 25 years with them in my life! Be thankful for what you have. That life lesson is not just for me, but it is how I can help others, with that message. It is family who are there for you during your pit. This is what matters. Before that education and learning had been my top value, living in Africa during my childhood I had seen how much education raised people out of poverty and gave them a better quality of life. Education is still important, but family is at the top of my values now. I’m a person who has had pits in my life, who has had breakthroughs and learned life lessons that become my message for helping others. I help people become clear on what their values are so they can come up to their death bed without regrets.

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In ICU it was indescribable to feel so self conscious, unworthy and fat, even though now I would give anything to be the weight I was in the hospital, as I was not even medically overweight then at 140 pounds, but I FELT overweight and just felt horrified by it and having to use a bed pan to boot. I had to lay flat and my doc told me that even one drop of blood on the outside of a blood vessel could cause a stroke, that is why they wouldn’t let me stand or walk around.

The SAH (subarachnoid hemorrhage) and intracranial bleeding made me lose the normal emotional filters and defences. So I had a lot of private thoughts, that was the real me. I was very vulnerable. So I know how negative self talk affects your self esteem and ability to like yourself for after my bleed out it was like ‘I’m not good enough, not smart enough, too fat” and negative feelings can affect self esteem. After the aneurysm I had to relearn routine things like how to shower and the contrast between what I use to be able to do easily and what I struggled to do after the bleed was challenging. Do you ever think thoughts like “I’m not enough,” “I’m not good enough”, “not smart enough”, “not pretty enough” “Too fat”, “I don’t feel loved”?  It took me months of suffering and just putting up with it before I found what to do with it. There are three shifts that make all the difference. Are you interested in knowing how to deal with it? 

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So I had my challenges with limiting beliefs and negative self talk, with self doubt and insecurity. How to deal with it? How do we accept ourselves? How do we become more confident? How do we move from a place of self loathing and not really liking yourself to a place of liking yourself and self love? I needed steps to be able to communicate effectively the self love blueprint and share the teaching of self love with others and being a survivor I needed to especially break tasks down into baby steps to make them less overwhelming. What is the key ingredient so many don’t know about? The Self love blueprint.  Liking who you are.  Enjoying You. Appreciation for your Self. But how do we get there? What is the roadmap to self appreciation? What is the Self Love Blueprint? Would you like to know the three steps in the self love package?

Awareness is the first step which you have if you relate to these limiting thoughts like “I am not enough” or I’m not pretty enough, or I’m not smart enough, or I’m not good enough to be loved,”  I’m not worthy” Take a moment to write down what your limiting thoughts are.  “I just don’t know if I have what it takes,”  “I wonder if I can do it”, “I’m different,” If you are using a GPS to drive somewhere you  need to enter two things, where you are and where you are going. So begin with awareness of where you are. Identify your unique limiting thoughts and feelings and core beliefs.

Then the second step is the Distinction of realizing that you are not your emotions and coming from a place of unconditional love – accepting yourself as the emotions move through you is a form of self love and self acceptance. That is big, re-read that sentence. Instead of pushing these thoughts away you think “I accept myself even though I feel overwhelmed or I love myself even though I feel anxious or “I love and accept myself even though i feel ___(insert your feeling)”  If you are dealing with a younger mindset or doing inner child work the affirmation could be more along the lines of “I’m a good kid even though I  did that”. Setting aside time to meditate where you watch and witness your thoughts as if they were a log floating down the river can be a big help. You learn to be the witness to the thought instead of the emotional turmoil of the thought by meditating. 

Third, you take Action by actually using THIS affirmation (“Even though I have __this feeling__(insert your feeling) I love myself and I accept myself.”  with unconditional self love when you  need self compassion or you notice yourself thinking a limiting self thought. For cognitive first aid imagine putting up your hand in a ‘stop’ command when you have a limiting thought, dismiss it and then replace it with your well thought out written words and self love. Let me be clear, it isn’t about being positive, it’s about being real with being human and being aware of the negativity and core beliefs before unconditionally loving yourself in the middle of it. It can be a crazy maze trying to figure everything out. You can shed the feelings of unworthiness and fear, it really is possible. Do you see how valuable this is?

My search for meaning tooks months and months, I spent an hour a day during meditation observing feelings and thoughts, and saying this affirmation every time they came up. I’ve spent hundreds of hours working on myself using the above affirmation, EFT and other approaches like cognitive psychology therapy and I help others do the same with life coaching now. My credibility comes from having survived the pit, searching and seeking, and finally breaking through. This is what WORKS. Can you see how valuable it is?

The man in the ICU bed beside me was in a full body cast after a tree fell on him. He was upset when he had to wait over an hour for the used bedpan to be removed. I had to lie flat and wasn’t allowed up, no sitting, no standing, no walking, not even to use the bathroom for fear of a stroke.

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No one on the medical staff would tell me what was going on – it is easier to cooperate when you know what is going on but no one would tell me or my husband anything for three days. Three whole days of being in the dark, imagine that! They probably didn’t know what to say because they hadn’t seen anyone survive, most people don’t survive a SAH. 50% die within a month. Most people with a thunderclap headache lie down to sleep and never wake up. That call from my sis at that moment was a life saver but I still wasn’t out of the woods. Over half who are admitted to a hospital with a SAH die from it within a month. My husband finally got our brother-in-law who is an MD to talk to my ICU doctor and neurologist after I had been admitted to ICU and 3 days into my stay and that is when we found out the brain aneurysm bleed out diagnosis. An SAH. A brain bleed that stopped itself. Not just an aneurysm that would need surgery to be clipped off, but the actual bleed out or bursting or rupture of the artery which caused a SAH, Subarachnoid hemorrhage:and brain trauma or TBI. Having blood pool in the skull is not good for the brain. It was freakingly scary to have a SAH (subarachnoid hemorrhage) and know I could die at any moment. “Will I make it”?

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My specialist wanted to wait until a medical team he trusted came in the next morning before doing brain surgery and clipping off the burst artery so we waited and the aneurysm self healed and closed up by morning.  They still made me stay flat in the bed in ICU, I even had to use a bedpan because they were afraid that if even one drop of blood got on the outside of a blood vessel I would stroke. Over 50% of the people who have a brain aneurysm die from it, and my neurologist said something like 92%, if they even survived, were paralyzed on half of their body. So a burst aneurysm is pretty serious. Only those who are stroke survivors truly and deeply understand.

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When I went to get my first prescription filled the pharmacist burst into tears. She said the pharmacy had this medicine but it had never been used, no one had lived long enough to get it filled. She was like ‘do you know what this means? You lived!” She said even her instructor at the teaching hospital had never known anyone to survive a brain aneurysm bleed out. Basically the doctor said most don’t survive and the ones that do, most are vegetables or are paralyzed on one side of the body, and I can walk. Steps were still a challenge but at least I could walk. As my younger sis Jillian says ‘we’re just glad you are still here’. You really find out what matters and who matters and who cares when you go through a crisis like that. Family is my life and it’s just hubby and me but he’s the most supportive ever so I have the one thing that is the most important. I can see how much it means to him to have me here, my heart goes out to him for all he went through being a support person. Wishing he could DO SOMETHING to help me, to make me better. Feeling completely helpless. At one point the hospital didn’t expect me to live through the night so they called him to make the hour drive into the hospital to be with me. I can only imagine his level of worry! This experience taught me something: tell the ones that mean the most to you that they are your world, that you love them, and let petty things go because you never know if you’ll have a tomorrow with them. Life is too short to take people for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. After my aneurysm bleed out I found myself feeling a sense of ‘honoring’ towards people, I let my husband know I love him each and every chance I get.  I used the namaste gesture a lot or put my hand over my heart when meeting someone, making my gestures congruent with my feeling of honoring.

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Even two years after the aneurysm my husband would come home, see me and say ‘you need to rinse the shampoo out” I was like, ‘I did rinse’ he was like “you need to do it AFTER you shampoo etc”. It was SEQUENCING that I struggled with terribly even a couple years after the aneurysm. A picture diagram giving a visual representation of the sequence would have been helpful but not something I thought of at the time. Most of my healing happened in the two years after the bleed. I’ve dealt with overwhelm. The best way I can describe it is it was like there was an earthquake in my brain and pathways and some roads that use to be there now had gaps in them.

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One thing that stands out to me was how much flowers meant to me when I was in the fog of the brain aneurysm bleed out. They seemed to have the highest frequency. I was surrounded by nurses that just didn’t care, all they wanted was to get their job done, audibly complaining about having to change bed pans etc. I just wanted the flowers to be as close to me as possible, I even fell asleep holding a single rose in the palm of my hand.

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Complications to the aneurysm still color my days. It is my doctor who has told me these things are complications to the aneurysm, I didn’t come up with that myself. In the emergency room the doctor had said to me ‘good thing you weren’t driving’ so I quit driving as an example of how after the brain trauma I took things quite literally. Acquired brain injury can be quite the plate full. Usually there is a long period of seeking and searching to find solutions, but with a Psychology background I knew where to look. I used cognitive tools from my Psychology background for dealing with phobias to re-teach myself to drive by taking breaking things down into baby steps, drive to the end of the driveway first, then another day drive to the end of the street and back, going just a little bit further each time etc. There is hope, these things can be dealt with using many tools and techniques. For more educational info for cognitive psychology tools and techniques for depression and anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and ADHD go to

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Every one is different and although more than one person can have an aneurysm bleed out it can look different because it has to do with what part of the brain was damaged by the bleed out or ruptured blood vessel, or a hemorrhagic stroke. An aneurysm or hemorrhagic stroke can be in different parts of the brain for different people so the bleed out can cause brain trauma in different places of the brain, making each survivor unique and distinct.

My neurologist didn’t want me to fly after the BA rupture as changes in the cerebral pressure could be wicked for me, potentially causing another bleed. For me, having had 4 people in my family in a plane crash, there was a realistic apprehension when it came time to fly. I had to again use cognitive psychology tools to manage it. I had to start packing for travel a good week before I needed to fly otherwise I’d just shut down. So cognitive and behavioral psychology can be quite helpful. Behavioral psychology is about changing your behavior even if you don’t feel like it trusting your feelings will follow. My success story only came after the pit and putting in the hardwork of doing homework and work on myself and all the struggle that it contained.

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My sense of time became fuzzy with the brain aneurysm, I was worried about who would feed my cats when my husband was visiting me at the ICU for the week I was there. When I finally got to go home my three cats Rudy, Hiss and Fuzzy came and surrounded me, sitting on the arm of the chair or the back of the chair coming as close to me as they could without climbing on me. They knew something was wrong – Rudy was such a lap cat, instinctively wanting to be as close to my face as possible, instinctively because the kitten that is closest to the mothers head has the best chance of survival. Yet after the brain aneurysm bleed out my cats wanted to be close without being on me and for weeks they never climbed on me, they knew something was wrong with me, but sat beside me for hours and I slept in the living room for weeks. I slept for 22 out of 24 hours the month after the bleed. “Did you know that when you sleep your body heals?” my sister asked.

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I was put on Heparin in the hospital and took it through an I.V. but they gave me Warfarin (rat poison literally) when I went home so I had to return to the hospital every day for blood work to check the thickness of my blood to make sure it wasn’t too thin from the medication. I have small veins and the nurse often had to get someone else to try to find a vein after a couple tries of not being able to find a vein. I dreaded being poked with a needle! The little things matter so much. It was Canada and medical tests have a long waiting time there and I had 6 months to wait for the angiogram.

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The limbic system seems to be the area that was damaged by the SAH = fight or flight as you would know, and so it felt like someone had flipped a switch in my brain and the stress response was stuck open. My neurologist said so few people survived an aneurysm bleed out that they didn’t know what to tell me to expect as research just hadn’t been done. As I said it was like a switch had been flipped and my mind was stuck in the stress response. There is the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system, one controls stress and the other relaxation. In a Kaiser class they taught us to lie on the floor and put our hands on our abdomen and feel how deeply we breathe. Apparently when you first wake up in the morning you breathe the deepest, so this is an example of how to try to breathe to get the relaxation part of the brain dominant. One breathing technique I used when I felt panicky was to breath in 2 3 4, hold 2 3 4  out out 2 3 4 5 6 7 – getting the out breath to be twice as long as the in breath to support the anti-stress and stress reduction response. The panic attacks didn’t go away overnight but decreased as the years passed. Getting the out breath twice as long actually helps the brain shift out of stress into relaxation. This is gold. Who knew that breathing was so powerful. I learned that at a meditations and guided imagery class taught by a doctor.

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So I wanted to do whatever I could to heal myself. I used Western medicine and eastern medicine and I searched and I SEARCHED AND I SEARCHED and I found things that didn’t work and I found things that did work and I learned and found answers. Some of the holistic things I explored were the Sedona Method, energy work, core quantum energetics, Yuen Method Chinese Energetics, Pre-Cognitive Re-Education, Chi Nei Tsang, EFT or Emotional Freedom Tapping Technique, Circles of Life, Mind as Medicine modern medical Chi-Kung, group therapy, classes on intuition, Joseph Campbell myths, Spiritual Response Therapy, Hakomi, 5 Rhythms, (Sweat Your Prayers) The Artist Way, Accelerated Awakening, Rapid Symptom Reduction for Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Phobia’s and ADHD. There was one tool one of my doctors used that focused on eye movement, I didn’t remember what it was called but googled it and found it, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) but it helped me move past places where my brain was stuck by trauma, (such as memory of a car accident to help me process a car accident where our car slipped on black ice and rolled and a fence post came in the side window…made driving hard and the EMDR really helped) so helpful for PTSD. The side to side diagonal eye movements were suppose to help connect both hemispheres of the brain I believe. I was glad I wasn’t alone as I went through the process of looking lower right, upper left, repeat as I told my memories of the car accident, for it was helpful to realize “I didn’t die” when my therapist said that when my brain previously had gotten stuck.

I found the support of essential oils like Lavender emotionally good for relaxation: Besides I just love things that smell good. I love the little vials especially the types that smell fragrant. But really, Western Medicine is the best we have,  I pulled this life lesson out of the pit of unworthiness I felt around having the SAH and all the seeking and searching I did of trying both eastern and western medicine, nothing compares to the results one gets with western medicine. Did you get that? Nothing compares to the results you can get from Western medicine my seeking taught me. So I have a lot more respect for the importance of the scientific method after my brain aneurysm bleed out.

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In my seeking and exploration I found some things that were woo woo, like homeopathy and acupuncture and muscle testing and dowsing and astrology, and some things that were helpful, like meditation and unwinding negative belief systems and books like The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment. I was seeking and searching and didn’t have the same logic I had before the SAH and had to relearn how important the scientific method is in daily life. These aren’t flippant preferences, it is the learnings they came after the years of struggle and the pit, it is the life lesson and life wisdom that came after nearly dying. I found GROWING UP an inner child made all the difference during guided imagery, that is something you won’t find elsewhere. These are the teachings people find valuable because it saves them time and money and gives them more freedom to do what they want with whom they want. “Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain.” ~Robert Gary Lee

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Since meditation was one approach that truly helped me I spent a decade studying meditation and stress reduction techniques and taking personal growth classes and reading everything I could find online. My bookshelves have well over 500 books on them. I spent over $10,000 studying meditation and life coaching after the brain aneurysm bleed out and formed my own self help Contentment Catalyst Self Love Life Coaching business after lessons I learned from my near death experience. I was certified in Catalyst, Master RESULTS coaching, Ericksonian Hypnosis and more like Landmark Education. Any other Landmark graduates out there? All that after a degree in Psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston.

shutterstock_325330202 medium size Young girl indoors meditating in half lotus - white backgroundshutterstock_151596074 medium size Woman meditating on beach in lotus position is my go-to source for SKYPE meditation classes and spiritual awakening mp3’s well worth a moment of your time, teachings learned similar to my near death experience about unconditional love. The thing is, you can access SKYPE from anywhere your laptop or iphone works, inside or outside, so anyone in the States or Canada or Brazil can enroll. It makes a big difference if you can unconditionally love yourself in the middle of whatever you are going through, and actively do this not just mentally nod to it. The distinction of self kindness and realizing that all people are human and have imperfect lives is important otherwise we create a layer of additional suffering in our lives thinking certain things shouldn’t be happening, creating isolation and separation. So self compassion matters, and if you were already doing that you most likely wouldn’t be reading this, so coaching and the right products are helpful. Have you meditated this week? Have you taken time out just for you? Tired? Drained? Unhook from stress by enrolling in Living From The Heart ongoing classes: provides an ongoing structure to do that and because it is SKYPE you can do it from anywhere by just dialing in at the scheduled time.

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As a complication to the aneurysm bleed out I have ADHD symptoms 10 years after the bleed out and have found a baby dose of Stratteria to be effective tool for wellness so I know the value of finding the right doctor.  I love natural things and work to support my journey through wellness with various tools of the trade from my Psychology background such as Cognitive and Behavioral psychology . Literally I spent time identifying negative self talk, looking at a chart to identify the category of distorted thinking, and then writing down a more positive, realistic thought. Over and over. For the first decade post aneurysm I used natural approaches, and although I talked to my doctor about possible medication he didn’t want to prescribe anything as he said I’d be on it for the rest of my life and observed that I was motivated to change. So don’t give up, keep bringing it up as it can make things so much easier! It took me a decade to discover that. Those first two years didn’t have to be so hard, if only I had the doctor then that I now have.

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I attended Play To Win and a man who had had a stroke kept wanting to team up with me for every exercise. He couldn’t even use scissors to cut a piece of paper after his stroke but he wanted to participate and kept coming over to be around me. Was I the only one that recognized the space of unconditional love that he streamed out to everyone he talked to? Tribe, those like us, need a place to gather where we will be understood. If you’ve had an aneurysm bleed out leave a supportive comment. If you’ve had a stroke I’d love to read your comment at the end of the page, I know you have to log into wordpress, you can use just your first name if you like, as an aneurysm rupture is like a type of hemorrhagic stroke. It happened for me at a very young age, 37. Now that it has been years since my brain aneurysm bleed out people who meet me wouldn’t even know it unless I tell them although I live with it everyday.

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What will you feel on your death bed if you come up to it and haven’t give your greatest gifts to the world, if your message dies within you?

Six months after the brain aneurysm bleed out I was scheduled for an angiogram where they were going to insert a camera from the groin  into the blood vessels and thread it up to my brain to internally take pictures of my brain. Yes, I said a six month wait for the angiogram, that long of a wait is common in Canada. They nicked the inside of my neck during my angiogram. I started seeing double and the surgeon said to get me off his table. They stopped the procedure, pulled the microscopic camera out (so no pictures) making the aneurysm inoperable and the neurologist stayed with me, pricking my feet with a pin but I couldn’t feel it. I don’t know how long he worked on me, hours could have passed. They say hearing is the last sense to leave. I lost my sense of touch and all senses other than hearing. I had another near death experience, finally feeling peace and a sense of being connected and then expanding to fill my body. I read that somewhere like 200,000 people die from medical errors each year, I almost became one of those statistics. People have asked ‘did you see a white light’ with your near death experience? No, it was more like nothingness.The sense of peacefulness is probably the right brain being dominant. I’ve read that more people die from medical errors than die from car accidents, I didn’t know that. Between the brain aneurysm and the angiogram my neurologist said not to fly because the change in altitude could cause a change in cerebral fluid and they were afraid I would have a stroke. Even today the anesthesiologist doesn’t want to do spinal taps or anything like that which could affect the cerebral fluid. I’ve read that scuba diving is also out for the same reason.

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There is something, a technique people can use that will help them be more functional after having a mini stroke, it is this. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Try eating with your non dominant hand. That way both hemispheres of the brain will be come use to doing tasks and if part of the brain becomes damaged by mini stokes other parts can help take over.

shutterstock_169885871 medium size Smiling young pretty woman with healthy teeth holding a tooth brush brushing her teeth.

Tingling, numbness, cognitive issues, difficulty multi-tasking, problems with memory and math, depression and anxiousness, depression recovery and anxiety relief, racing thoughts, behavioural changes, PTSD, survivor guilt, sensory overload – many are the possible symptoms of SAH survivors and the path to recovery after an aneurysm bleed. My husband read at web MD that anxiety and paranoia are the two most common symptoms in the aftermath following a bleed out, I didn’t know that. I’ve found it best to talk to my doctor and be kind to yourself. An acquired brain injury, TBI or brain stroke is not something a lot of people are familiar with so awareness and education are important. A lot of us were sort of left to sink or swim with the cognitive aftermath, not many of us were told of the challenges that come from a SAH, hemorrhagic stroke or warned of what to expect. My neurosurgeon told me that so few survive they don’t have research to know what to expect for the healing process. I found the most healing occurred within 2 years post aneurysm rupture. My neurosurgeon was great but the first two years after my rupture were beyond challenging and there seem to be gaps in our aftercare, I never heard of a neuropsychologist and knew only of psychiatry – it is not so much a mental health issue although that is the closest to the TBI and knowing the root cause “it’s the aneurysm bleedout!” Luckily for my a psychiatrist termed it ‘complications to an aneurysm”. It was only after I moved, then got new insurance that a decade later I stumbled upon a good primary care doctor that understands a bleed out and I got supportive off label medication for the first time, boy does it make things easier!. Lucky for me I now have an amazing doctor that GETS the difficulty of a TBI. I found it helpful, whenever possible to always bring someone with me to the doctor’s appointments The aftermath of a SAH can be exhausting, I have found I need more rest and sleep than before even a decade later, I feel fatigued and have to find a new normal. People don’t see the two days I have to recuperate after one day out for the years following my bleed out. For me, it got better over time, that is the wisdom of being a decade beyond the aneurysm. I savor each moment and live each day as though it could be my last. I have found a new normal, accepted my limitations and experience contentment.. After struggling with panic attacks after the bleed it is so blessed to feel contentment mostly now!


We have to go through the process of mourning the loss of our previous selves as aneurysm survivors. At first I remembered things like how easy learning was for me before and felt frustrated by how difficult things were after the SAH. I use to ace reading but after the aneurysm rupture my brain would cramp just reading a couple of sentences, it took years before I could read comfortably again and understand what I was reading, and I practiced week after week. If you’re having trouble reading, read out loud, it helps a lot, that is a tip. (Now I love my Kindle, lucky me)  As my niece put it ‘Before and after the aneurysm you were always kind”. So the core you is the same even though many other things change.  I use to love crafts pre-aneurysm and didn’t care for them at all afterwards…they were fun before but frustrating afterwards. Before the aneurysm bleed out I used makeup, afterwards I don’t have the patience for it anymore. I haven’t been able to return to my old job as a secretary, and am grateful for the handful of people who are drawn to work with me as a Self-love Life Coach on the phone. It was freaking scary to know I could die at any moment and I transformed that into gratitude for each moment. Transformation. I found the SAH made it instantly easy to live in the present moment. I am amazed to still be here and find contentment in a simple, uncomplicated life. There is strength in that. There is nothing like having life almost get away from you to make you grateful for each and every moment, treasuring more time spent with those who matter, and nothing like a near death experience to make you realize what and who is important.

shutterstock_113799046 medium size Couple Snuggled Under Duvet Eating Breakfast

Awareness and education and inspiration are the reason I share my story online for free (or from stage as a speaker for hubby’s and my travel/hotel expenses paid) Not many people are aware of the symptoms of an aneurysm rupture, symptoms like a thunderclap headache, (a severe, “worst headache of my life” that begins suddenly thus called a thunderclap headache) vomiting and dizziness and difficulty speaking for me, so I hope telling me story helps others. People remember stories more than they remember lectures. There are two types of stroke. The most common stroke is caused by an interruption in the blood flow and is called an ischaemic stroke. 80 – 85% of all strokes are of this type. while a bleed within the brain causes a hemorrhagic stroke or is it spelled haemorrhagic stroke, this is the type I had that is when a brain aneurysm ruptures and causes subarachnoid haemorrhage or SAH. The pressure and swelling from the bleed out cause brain tissue death. On the humor side of things I now know how to spell ‘aneurysm’! Roses are red, violets are blue, aneurysms are real, don’t let one get you. Aneurysm Awareness month has legislation asking for it to be in September. We’ve adopted the burgundy ribbon and color burgundy as our brain aneurysm survivor symbol. I have one of these burgundy ribbon, burgundy strap watches that is a good conversation starter and I’ve used it to start a brain aneurysm conversation at the dentist office.

13266010_1010911562317958_7904794930616620081_nRibbon-Awareness-Watch-Ladies-brain aneurysm Burgundy-

You know how you can sometimes change words to lyrics to fit your situation and it has meaning just for you? There are beautiful lyrics to this song my husband has played since I had the brain aneurysm bleed out, by Seal, they go “Kiss from a rose from the grave, I’ve been kissed by a rose from the grave”. It inspired the theme for this website. It is our song now.

shutterstock_206086639 medium size Older male doctor examines MRI image of human head and patient in the hospitalshutterstock_4137820 medium size Attraactive young blonde female doctor with a thumbs up sign

“Enjoyed reading the story about your aneurysm.  Reminds me of how truly thankful I am that you survived.  You have a knack for writing!” 

shutterstock_129152771 medium size Cute brunette young mother hugging two little children, smiling faces, happiness and love family concept

Sis “I just wanted to let you know one thing.  When the aneurysm happened, I was trying to get out the door to go to a play group with Seth and Mark.   It was Seth and Mark together that demanded I call you.  In fact, it was Seth who initiated it, and when I first declined, saying that we would call you in a few hours, he threw himself distraught on the floor in front of the door, saying it would be too late.  I was absolutely bewildered, as Seth never threw tantrums or acted like this.  Mark immediately chimed in with his brother, agreeing that you had to be called right now!  Absolutely bewildered, I told them that I would call you and immediately, they calmed down.  When I spoke with you, first thing I did was tell you the boys wanted me to call right then, not later.  You told me, hesitantly, that your head was hurting.  I asked whether you had fallen.  You said no.  You said you had better call Darren and I encouraged it.  He called the ambulance.  Then, while he was driving to you and the ambulance was on the way, I had called you back and tried to ‘stay’ with you.  By this time, I was sitting on the floor, one child pressed in on each side, anxiously listening.  Needless to say, we never made it to the play group that morning.  What a stressful day that was!  I shall never forget it.” – Jillian

Velma with nephews Seth and Mark who saved her life.

shutterstock_305662187 medium size Doctor or family memeber giving hope to a seriously ill patient through touch

So I have a new normal.

Last week I cooked a cucumber thinking it was a zucchini. Other TBI survivors might relate! Here is a beautiful email about cooking post aneurysm:

Sent from my iPhone

From: “H

Date: May 23, 2016 at 1:52:46 PM PDT
To: D.
Subject: Re: Thank you
Reply-To: Blue Apron


Hi D,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us. I can’t even begin to describe how much your kind words mean to us here at Blue Apron. Your wife, Velma’s, story is truly inspirational and I’m so honored that we get to be a part of it!

You’ve only been cooking with us for about two months, but it’s amazing to hear of the positive impact it’s been having on Velma’s life. Blue Apron is about so much more than just delivering meals to your home; we really believe that we can change people’s lives and you and your wife are an absolutely amazing example of that!

Rest assured that your story has been shared with our entire company. You make everything we do worth while and have put a smile on my face for the entire week. Please continue to keep me updated with Velma’s journey and let me know if there’s ever anything you need!

Cheers to opening doors!

Blue Apron Customer Experience Team
On May 13, 11:18 PM, D wrote:

I wanted to pass on my thanks and that of my wife for a very special reason.

Velma, my wife, is a brain aneurism survivor. Although the injury happened many years ago she has since then struggled to always achieve her best given difficulties with memory, math and general problem solving.

For her birthday this year I decided to offer her your service as she had expressed interest earlier and we both love to cook, and more importantly, eat fine food.

We worked together on the first few deliveries but quickly found that with the clear instructions, well packaged ingredients and helpful pictures that Velma was able to easily prepare the meals mostly on her own. For her this has been like a door opening that has mostly remained shut for the past few years.

Velma now eagerly looks forward to the weekly deliveries knowing that with Blue Apron she can once more feel proud with what she can accomplish.

So we both thank you for the service. For her, an aneurism survivor, Blue Apron has been a wonderful addition to her life.




Whoo hoo! I’m just won 3rd place in a storytelling contest for my brain aneurysm bleed story! Aug 8, 2016. It’s a shorter version of what is online at Pollyanna, the judge who is an amazing story writer herself said “I was moved and excited to see you overcoming in your struggle” when she awarded me 3rd place. I wrote it up for September as brain aneurysm awareness month – so people can share it, as it is easier to remember the symptoms from a story rather than a lecture. “THIS SHORT STORY TELLS OF THE FIGHT TO GET BACK FROM AN ANEURYSM BRAIN BLEED. THERE ARE TOO MANY SIMILAR SYMPTOMS AND I HOPE THAT YOU CAN FIND ANSWERS THAT SUPPORT YOU TOWARDS A FULL RECOVERY”…Corinne

So now you know my brain aneurysm bleed out story. My life lessons and my message that can help others come from my story, have you found that true in your life too? I’ve shared life lessons that come from surviving the pit of the aneurysm bleed out and breaking through negative belief systems and people connect, are moved touched and inspired by it, and have said it helps them. I help people as a contentment catalyst live life full out with self love so they can come up to their death bed without regrets. I help people reprioritize their values so they can also come up to their death bed without regrets. You know this, have you left your email in the subscribe section in the left hand column? I’m working on putting the Top 5 Lessons Learned From My Aneurysm in a FREE pdf file for people to have it all in one place, would that be of interest to you? Then leave your email in the left column. Do that now. Did you also know that we were the the youngest sisters in the world to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa where i was born? Go to to learn more.


shutterstock_186820757 medium size Africa Wildlife map design on african landscape climbing mount kilimanjaro theme

Tags Coping with mental health issues and overcoming mental health issues.


2 thoughts on “My Riveting Brain Aneurysm Bleed-out Survivor Story SAH #neardeathexperience #inspirational #truestory”

  1. Hi Velma, I survived a ruptured aneurysm in 1982 when I was in labor with my first child. My blood pressure went up and caused the aneurysm to rupture. I was only 16 at the time. I live in Alabama in the United States and started out at a county hospital where when I came in that morning they broke my water and induced my labor. I don’t remember a lot but I had 3 gran mal seizures and they let me lay there for 9 hours before sending me to a trauma center a little bit down the street.

    First thing that they did when I got there is an emergency C-section and a brain scan. The doctor told my family I had a blood clot the size of his fist on the back of my brain and that I probably wouldn’t live. They did an artirgram and found another weak spot they took out when they did my surgery. I have 19 clips in my brain. My aneurysm was in the back right side of my brain. My rupture was 33 years ago.

    I was partially paralyzed on my left side. I had to learn to walk again and use my left arm and hand again.

    I have learned a lot from reading your story. I believe with all my heart that I am still here because of prayer and a loving and healing God.

    1. Hi there Velma, I also survived a “bleed out”, as you put it. I am guessing you did not have surgery either and that it healed by itself. I must admit you are the only other person I know of like myself that never had surgery.
      I Also suffered the thunderclap headaches, mine were reoccurring for 9 days before they realized I wasn’t suffering from migraines. I went to emergency by ambulance 2 times in an ambo and I don’t remember how many times by car, and they just kept sending me home!
      I wouldn’t wish it on anyone and my memories are all very fuzzy but 2 years later I am still here, but I do worry everyday that it may happen again.
      Thanks for your story. It is wonderful to know of another like me.

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