Survivor Around the Globe, Marissa Ree

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Marissa ReeMy ‘Big Bang’ happened on the evening of September 28th, 2016. I was in my spinning bike looked at the time and thought “Five more minutes and I’ll get off.” Bam! It hit me, in the top if my head, like no other pain I’ve ever felt. I shook my head thinking “God, what is this?” As I turn around I felt so drunk, something didn’t feel right. I live in a flat so everything is on same level. I headed to the bathroom where my daughter was (she was only 12) and as she opened the door I grabbed it and said “Help! Lexi you need to go get help, mam’s not well!”.

At this point, I slid down and collapsed backwards to the floor. As I was lying there I was thinking “Why am I on the floor?”. I tried to get up and I just couldn’t get to my feet, then I remembered why. My inner voice was screaming “Marissa you need to get help now, your girls still need you”. I don’t know where I got the strength from, but I crawled on my hands and knees to the front door, opened it and then tapped on my neighbors door. By this time my oldest daughter was by my side. My neighbor opened the door, looked at me and laughed saying “What are you doing down there?” I remember holding my hands to him and saying please help me, there is something wrong with my head. He and my daughter tried to stand me and I collapsed again, he picked me up and took me into his flat.

By this time thing for me were worsening, I because confused, started to vomit, and my speech began to slur, in my head I thought I’m having a stroke. I thought I was going to die, I really thought it was my time. I panicked thinking my girls are going to see me die. Then, my close friend appeared and I felt a sense of relief thinking she wouldn’t let them see if they needed to work on me.

The paramedics arrived, did my observations (which I can’t remember) and they diagnosed me with sickness and diarrhea with a migraine. They advised they would not take me to hospital. But they made me sign the form to say I understood, however I had no mental capacity to make that decision for myself. I was taken back to my own flat, my sister and father turned up. My sister held me and stroked my head, I told her I just wanted to bang my head off the wall with the pain. My father gave me codeine which made me settle and fall asleep.

The next four days is blurred as I slept most of the time. Two days later my father called for a doctors home visit, but the doctor tried to get him to take me to the surgery in a taxi. My father told her no because I was walking very poorly (It was a struggle for my father and my younger daughter to even help me to the toilet). The doctor then agreed to come out. When she arrived, she checked me over and diagnosed me with neck strain and prescribed ibuprofen.

Two days after my sister came over. She phoned my father before coming and said if I was still the same that she would take me to A&E (Accidental & Emergency Department in the UK). But when my sister saw me, she knew I had gotten worse. My sister rang 111 (Non-emergency medical number) and explained what had happened over the four days. Five hours later an ambulance crew arrived. The first thing said was “Why is she not in hospital?”. They examined me and said that they were taking me to hospital. I was given gas and air to be moved and cried with every movement.

Once taken to hospital and clerked in, I was seen by a doctor. He asked why the lights were off in the examination room, I replied, “It’s really hurting my eyes and my head is sore.” At that point, it went from relaxed to very serious. The doctor took my blood work and explained that I could have 1 of 2 things – a bleed in the brain or meningitis.

He sent me for a cat scan which confirmed the bleed in the brain. I was transferred in the early hours of the morning to the RVI hospital, Ward 16 (adult neurosurgery). Once settled in they gave me morphine, from there I fell asleep. The following morning I was taken in for angiogram, which confirmed I had aneurysm behind my left eye,

They were confident they could coil it. I gave consent, and later woke up in recovery. I was in recovery for nearly six hours. I was taken to the high dependency ward for a couple of days and was taken back to the ward where I spent a further 2 1/2 weeks.

I have no deficits, however I do suffer fatigue, headaches and short term memory loss, but I’m grateful that I’m still here with my girls! There was a family history of ruptured aneurysm which caused subarachnoid haemorrhage. My great grandfather died, my grandfather died and my cousin Colleen died. There have been three survivals and also two diagnoses. I have been very lucky.

The Joe Niekro Foundation would like to thank Marissa for sharing her incredible story, we are so happy to hear that you received the treatment you needed and are here to tell your journey.

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