Caregiver Around the Globe, Greg Payan

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Italy2015_1230My wife, Holly, woke up on April 21, 2014 incapacitated by a terrible headache. She was an otherwise healthy 39-year old college professor who exercised regularly and taught yoga. She began to have a seizure and her eyes rolled back into her head. After calling 911, she stabilized, so when the EMTs arrived they thought she was having a migraine. We arrived at the hospital and I begged the attending to get her a brain scan as I thought something was terribly wrong. They confirmed such a few minutes later when they said she was having a brain hemorrhage as the result of a brain bleed.


She was rushed by ambulance to another hospital and I followed in a cab. Upon arriving at the next hospital I was informed she stopped breathing en route, and I was asked if I wanted to speak to a priest. She was eventually stabilized and 15 hours later I was able to see her. She could not undergo surgery for 3 days because she had heart and lung failure and was not deemed strong enough for surgery. Finally, they were able to attempt a coil procedure, only to have her artery tear during the procedure. She was scheduled for a craniotomy the following day to clip her aneurysm. The craniotomy was a 6 1/2 hour surgery that involved a re-rupture of her aneurysm, but she made it through. She spent 24 days in the ICU before being released to rehab after enduring a grade IV bleed.

In the ensuing months, she needed to get a shunt, which wound up being four shunts due to infections and other complications, but she has recovered fully and somehow has returned to work. She lives life as if she did not have the aneurysm at all despite spending 72 nights in hospitals and rehab centers as a result of what she endured.

After seeing so many other survivors experience challenges after living through such a traumatic experience, we know we are blessed that she has no deficits and we are so grateful for that. I celebrate her life each day, but I do live in constant fear. It’s hard to find peace after an experience like this.

We got married 5 months after her bleed and are looking forward to celebrating our fourth anniversary later this year.

The Joe Niekro Foundation would like to thank Greg Payan for sharing his wife’s incredible and courageous journey with us.

If interested in reading more about Greg and Holly’s story, you can purchase their book, “Please Stay: A Brain Bleed, A Life In the Balance, A Love Story” on Amazon here!

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