Survivor Around the Globe, Deedra Atkinson

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Deedra AtkinsonI remember August 17, 2016 like it was yesterday. It was on a Wednesday, a day where it was my normal routine to workout around 8:30pm at my apartment gym. On that particular night, I decided to call my fiancé to ask if I could come to his gym to work out with him – thank God I did! He lived on the other side of Charlotte, NC which is a 20-minute drive from me. I was hesitant because I had to work early the next morning, but he finally gave in. I headed off to his gym and we started working out about 9:00pm and we had a pretty good work out together.

As we were finishing up, I suddenly felt lightheaded but figured it was because of the exercise. As I proceeded to lean on the wall I collapsed to the ground and had a seizure. I woke up after about 8 minutes later and was very confused and head hurting so bad I almost vomited.

My fiancé called 911 and the ambulance took me to the nearest hospital, Carolinas Medical Center University. After a few tests and CT scans, I was given the unfortunate news that I had a ruptured brain aneurysm and needed emergency surgery to repair the rupture and stop the bleeding.

I was rushed to CMC Main where the wonderful Dr. Joe Bernard performed embolization coiling surgery. I spent 19 days in ICU, 6 days in the regular room and was out of work for 4 months. I developed anxiety and depression after the traumatic experience I went though and ended up seeking therapy. Slight limitations now, but eventually it will get better.

I now have a better outlook on life, I don’t take things for granted and I have a stronger faith and relationship with God. I also met wonderful people in my support group.

I am lucky to be alive and although it took me awhile to get over the fear of going back to the gym, I am proud to say I am finally back in the gym working out! I am so grateful for Dr. Bernard and his staff for saving my life. I know God is still performing miracles, because I am one.

The Joe Niekro Foundation would like to thank Deedra for sharing her courageous story and inspiring others to not be scared to continue to do what they love!

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