Portrait: Sina-Marie

A warm hello from Germany. I'm Sina-Marie, 29 years old and a ruptured brain aneurysm survivor. Since I found out about SameYou, I've wished it would have existed back in 2015 and wanted to tell my story for anybody interested. So here it is...

Sina-Marie's story 

Back in November 2015, when I was 24 years old and seemingly healthy, I experienced a typical headache. Nothing to worry about, I thought. But it didn't stop for days and even got worse. My sister forced me to see a doctor. The doctor sent me home with some painkillers for migraines. They didn't help at all. When I woke up the next day I could barely see and trying to read or focus was painful.  

When I went to my father’s house for dinner he was like, "Damn girl, the left half of your face is hanging down—looks like a stroke". Come on, a stroke? Never! But as it all got worse, hour by hour, I headed to the local neurology hospital. (Note: please let someone drive you there or call an ambulance. I crashed into the wall of the hospital’s parking lot because of my dwindling eyesight).  

Diagnosis—and an emergency surgery 

Various tests were performed. No stroke. Maybe a protozoan parasite from my recently adopted kitten? No. An autoimmune disease? No. After three days, an MRI finally revealed a brain aneurysm so big, it was hanging on my optic nerve.  

My doctors scheduled an open brain surgery for two days later. I think I stayed in some kind of shock condition, not fully realising what was going on. The doctor told me the chances were circa 30% dead, 30% disabled, 30% surviving—but just 10% surviving without any residual damage. I had only heard of such a surgery within my circle of acquaintances once, and that case didn't end well. So, I tried to face the probability of not waking up from surgery.  

The evening before the surgery, I was sitting in bed when a sudden, unbearable pain grabbed my head. I was unable to call for the nurse or push the emergency button. Luckily, my mom was with me and ran outside, screaming for someone. As the doctor came in, took one look at me (I was saying “my neck hurts”), and knew the aneurysm had ruptured.  

We headed for an emergency surgery when my mom collapsed from panic. I woke up two days later, when they were removing the breathing ventilator. I was very aware of what had happened. They tested my reflexes and agility. Everything was fine.  

Ongoing complications 

So, lying there in the intensive care unit, knowing all went well but kind of out of my mind, I started to get really angry because of my half-shaved head and blamed every nurse. The days passed, and it turned out I had a leak in my brain. The brain fluid ran out of my nose. So, they made a lumbar access until the leak would heal by itself. They found another aneurysm, this one too small to take action and also in an inoperable place. It has to be checked and monitored once a year.  

After three weeks, my situation seemed to turn for the better day-by-day. I needed physical therapy, because I wasn't able to walk after staying in bed for so long. The doctors finally sent me home with no need to take medication. At home, I couldn't find sleep, frightened of dying any minute. Just scared of everything.  

My journey to recovery 

It took some time to realize everything went well, and I wouldn't die suddenly. My family and friends were always there for me, although I don't think they will ever understand my experience fully. Everybody was (and still is) saying how terrible and sad things were, but I only feel self-affected people really understand. Today, I'm not scared any more, hoping the other aneurysm will stay harmless small and just thinking of these days when I notice the scar that was my eyebrow once.  

Words of encouragement to others in recovery 

Take your time and don't be afraid to ask for help. But always remember: Brain injury is tough...survivors are tougher! 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story. 

Many are left with feelings of fear and uncertainty after brain injury. Your donation to SameYou will help us continue to build a community of awareness and support for brain injury survivors 

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