Portrait: Lisa J
I was visiting a location in March 2021 on a weekend in NY state when I stopped at my very best friend from middle schools' apartment on my way home from work to meet her first son and have dinner. After a couple of hours, I started to experience the worst headache of my life. I was getting sweaty, and my vision was blurring.
A little bit about Lisa
I had just moved back home to Connecticut in Jan 2021 to take a break from New York City after 10 years and wanted some flexibility to decide my next move! I work in the luxury fashion industry and was able to get promoted into a regional role. I was visiting a location in March 2021 on a weekend in NY state when I stopped at my very best friend from middle schools' apartment on my way home from work to meet her first son and have dinner. After a couple of hours, I started to experience the worst headache of my life.
I was getting sweaty, and my vision was blurring.
We called my parents to come pick me up but as my friend looked at me, she insisted to take me to the nearby hospital since I am not an "alarmist", as she says, and had my parents meet us there. She used to work for this hospital, so she was able to get my parents in quickly (covid restrictions) and we soon found out after a scan that I had a ruptured aneurysm. One of my longest-time best friends saved my life, I call her my guardian angel any chance I get.
An emergency procedure and hospital stay
I was transported to Yale New Haven Hospital immediately and was set up for an emergency brain procedure that night. My parents were not allowed, I went alone, and I woke up 4 days later in the ICU, after having my life saved by the Yale New Haven neurology surgeons, doctors and nurses. I stayed in ICU for 24 days and step down for 7.
What has helped me in my recovery?
When I returned home, I was lost and felt like I was outside of my body and didn't know who I was. I experienced a loss of sense of self, depression and short-term memory loss. My mom introduced me to SameYou as she had read about Emilia Clarke's story, and this website served as such a community to me. I also did EMDR therapy for post-trauma and I started running with Peloton outdoor. I had never been a runner; it was incredible for my recovery and my mental health. 2022 was my first anniversary in which I ran to fundraise for SameYou and complete my first half marathon for my first time in London: LLHM. It is an event I hope to make an annual tradition.
I still struggle with short-term memory and fatigue, but I truly feel every day I am a walking miracle and I live by an attitude of gratitude.
Two quotes that I have learned to live by following my brain injury are: "It's okay to be mad at god, he can handle it" "When you replace why is this happening to me, with what is this trying to teach me? Everything shifts" No one except those who actually goes through what I have will understand, and I found answers and comfort from SameYou and also in Brain Aneurysm Survivor groups on Facebook.
I felt very alone, misunderstood and scared until I found these communities.
Lisa is running the LLHM for the second year - you can support her by donating here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lisajohnson2022