“The subarachnoid space is where the cerebral spinal fluid circulates and is responsible for protecting your brain from injury. Serving as a cushion. A hemorrhage in this space can cause a coma, paralysis and even death.” — Healthline.com

My body became a clock. Time pushed forward as a force moved me to get me to where I needed to go. I felt like a Derby horse with blinders, and all I could see was the ambulance that I imagined — a life source after it was called.

Everything lined up for me almost mathematically the night of September 20, 2017. This was the night I almost died. I was on a city bike in uptown Minneapolis, on my way home, when without warning I suffered from a subarachnoid ruptured brain aneurysm, a brain hemorrhage and stroke.

I heard a whooshing sound in my ears and realized it was coming from inside my head rather than externally. The wheels of the cars around me were turning in sync with the sound in my head. I went partially deaf and then I jumped off the bike. My vision was getting shaky and blurred.

What was to follow was paralyzing pain, a bomb of a headache in my head and neck. It was so unbearable I felt myself detach from it. I was outside my body. Knowing it was not possible to endure this pain, I became helpless and had no choice but to surrender, surrender to the unknown. I gave up control.

In this moment of surrender, a sense of calm came over me. A force was holding me. Aware that the clock was ticking all the while. I guess I was waiting to be rescued. I was lucky I was in front of a coffee shop in my neighborhood. I said to a guy on a cell phone, “Call me an ambulance.” At this point I was in shock but still able to function.

I handed off the city bike to someone and a woman sat with me. I heard the sirens and knew they were for me. Still in excruciating pain, I answered the questions the paramedics asked and they got me in the vehicle. I vomited twice in the ambulance. The next thing I remember was slowly passing out. I remember the sensation of being wheeled out of the ambulance, bouncing, and the rickety noise of the stretcher as I entered the hospital.

My medical records state that I arrived unresponsive and moaning. I also learned from my medical records I had a seizure and was repeating to the medical team that I was going blind. I have no recollection of these last details. I was intubated. Two-part surgery. Coiling the ruptured aneurysm by going up into the brain through the main artery in the groin. And a ventriculostomy. Drilling and cutting open a hole in my skull. They inserted a tube or drain to take the pressure off the brain. My blood mixed with my cerebral spinal fluid hung in a bag on my hospital pole…I was attached to it.

I was in the ICU for two weeks.

My angels and the living dead sat, walked and wandered in a circular motion as they repeatedly passed by my bed with out-stretched arms, almost like they were tempting me or inviting me. They each gave me several chances to leave. I continued to watch them. I never felt that I was to join them. They were good company. This was the welcoming committee. They wanted me to know they were there.

Persistent in their motion and very ghost-like, all of them wore hospital gowns like the one I had on. Their faces were all dark and shadowed, without eyes or features. I was trying to figure out who they were. The one who was always sitting had a silhouette of a huge Bee hive hairdo like the one my grandmother wore for years. She was always in the chair next to me and outstretched her arms from time to time.

I somehow made connections as I traveled in two worlds. I knew they were the living dead and my angels. I stretched in my mind to guess who the others might be. Some were dead relatives and some were angelic. I would wake up or some nurse would wake me and my dead relatives and angels would phase out. I had a sense that they were always near, never far away.

“In that nanosecond of enlightenment I knew that the human spirit survives the death of the physical body and I understood that my wandering soul needed to get back into its earthly habitat.” — Janet Bettag

3 COMMENTS

  1. Cannot find the words to how much I can relate to parts of your story.
    I too had a subaracnoid hemorrhage. Same symptoms and experience. Was able to call myself an ambulance as I lived alone. Had the exact procedure except the blood that had escaped into my brain was to be allowed to be absorbed rather than drained by a tube.
    We are miracles to be alive!

  2. I can also relate to so much of your experience. I also had a ruptured brain aneurysm, subarachnoid hemorrhage, seizures and stroke. My event occurred on May 15, 2004 and my coil was placed on May 21 and I came home on June 3, 2004. While I can remember everything up to the day of the rupture, I have no memories of anything from the 15th to the 22nd. I’ve had to rely on what my family has told me of those missing days and it has not been a topic that my sons like to remember or discuss as it was very difficult for them. I do believe that during the worst days, my deceased family was there with me. My mother who visited me in the hospital tells me at times I was talking to my self and she says based on what I was saying she believes I was talking to her deceased mother, who raised me for the first 8 years of my life. I’ve tried and tried to remember that but have not been able to, but I’m not surprised to hear that my grandmother is who appeared to me at that time. I believe there were several family members who came to me, I’m just not able to recall. I thank you for telling your story, it’s comforting to me.

  3. Hello,
    I am so glad you reached out. I’m so glad you can relate… Its wonderful to find others who share our hellish survival story! We are miracles! Thank you again..
    Megan

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