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Cindy’s Story (Brain Aneurysm, Stroke)

Cindy's Story (Brain Aneurysm) In 2009 I had a ruptured brain aneurysm. My husband was out of town and I was on the phone with him. It hit suddenly. While on the phone I collapsed. My husband could hear moaning sounds but thought one of the kids was playing a trick on him. He had no reason to believe that his seemingly healthy wife would have a ruptured aneurysm. Laying on the floor I could not move or speak. My three teens were in the living room and I could not do anything to let them know I was there. I picked the phone up beside me but my husband was gone. Finally I made it up and walked into the hallway. The kids knew something was very wrong. I went in the bathroom vomiting uncontrollably. In tremendous pain I walked to the hallway and fell to my knees grabbing my head and screaming. For awhile I lay there and the kids said I did not appear to be breathing. I awoke choking on my own vomit aspirating it into my lungs. My kids called 911. My son rolled me to my side. You could hear the rattling in my chest. The ambulance arrived and I could not answer any of their questions correctly. We got to the hospital and they found I had a lot of blood in my brain causing pressure on the brain stem. They did not think I would make it through the night, but I did.

It was a miraculous healing. I spent 30 days in NICU with every complication they were most afraid of. I lived through that. The coils compacted and the aneurysm refilled. After that I was referred to one of the best surgeons in the world in the treatment of aneurysms. It was in a rare location and I needed someone who could perform the surgery successfully. I developed hydrocephalus and am shunt dependent. I am on my way to my fifth brain surgery in two years. The shunt has malfunctioned causing over drainage. Now it is hard to use my limbs, hard to speak, and hard to walk but I know that I will be healed again. I know this new shunt will reverse these stroke like symptoms. This has been a long, hard battle that I would climb again and again. It has changed me for the better no matter my struggles. It allowed me to realize my son had a deadly AVM (arterial venous malformation). It also allowed me to get my daughter help for an arachnoid cyst of the brain. All my battles are worth it because I am triumphant in the end.

We as a family are stronger than ever. There is nothing we can’t handle. I give God all the glory because for all medical purposes I should not be here and in this good of condition. I am a member of the Joe Niekro foundation. It is a foundation that promotes brain aneurysm awareness. For anyone with headaches in one spot of the head or new headaches that are out of the normal, sporadic high blood pressure, or sensitivity to sun, see your doctor and insist on a MRA. Those were my symptoms. They can vary according to where the aneurysm is located. If one ruptures the odds are not in your favor that you will come out alive with little to no deficits. 50% die within minutes of a rupture, and up to 50% of those who make it through surgery will eventually die, the remaining can have long term disability. Only a fraction make it with little to no deficits. Even though I have struggled I am among that small percentage who made it with little deficits. I want to share my story to promote brain aneurysm awareness.

Submitted 7-19-2013

The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Cheryl Hart

    Thanks for sharing your story. You are an inspiration. I also had an aneurysm that occurred during chemo for breast cancer and they discovered an AVM on TOP of the ruptured aneurysm while scanning for improvement. I believe God used my cancer to reveal what was hidden because if the AVM had ruptured, I’d be dead! It’s crazy how quickly life can shift. I will keep you in prayer and believe with you for God’s complete and miraculous healing!
    Blessings, Cheryl

    • Cindy Mayes

      Thank you, Cheryl. I do believe things happen for a reason. I hate that you had cancer but I am so glad you found the AVM. Yes, they can be deadly. I’m so thankful my son’s AVM was found and treated. You are in my prayers as well. I pray for continued healing on your life. Cheryl, I’m very sorry for all you have endured. Monday I will have another brain surgery but I wanted to get my story out so others may not have to suffer or die. This next surgery is because my shunt has over drained (malfunctioned). It is just a replacement of the shunt. Hopefully it will be the last brain surgery. Take care of yourself. Thank you for sharing your story with me. You are an inspiration to me! Praying for God’s blessings on your life.


  2. Cecelia Hill

    Oh my! I feel so fortunate sometimes. When I had my initial bleed (I found out later that’s when my aneurysm ruptured – it was over a year later when it was discovered). it was all I could do to crawl to my bedroom and sleep. I just wanted to sleep. Bright lights and the sun hurt terribly!! I must’ve slept for almost a week – I couldn’t do anything! I truly did not know that I had a ruptured aneurysm. I am lucky to be here and to have survived that ordeal.
    Pleased to meet you my fellow survivor!

    • Robin R Robinson

      Good morning. It will be 5 years on December 19 when I experienced two AVM’s. It’s still difficult to comprehend. But I am still here. I spent 21 days at UCSF and another 2 1/2 months at home before I returned to work. Besides the back of my head being cut open with a saw and not being able to rotate my head completely I am truly blessed. I know God kept me alive for a reason. There were so many things that could’ve gone wrong but they didn’t. God cradled me in His arms the way a mom cradles her newborn. I will write a book about my experience and I will continue to be so grateful for being given another chance. I am proud to say that I, too, am an aneurysm survivor. Peace and Blessings.

    • Cindy

      Cecilia and Robin, it is a pleasure hearing from each of you. Both of you have endured so much. Robin my craniectomy was a skull base surgery. They opened the whole back of my skull up. It is hard to turn my head sometimes. I too felt God’s presence. I know He had his arms around me. You are very blessed to be alive.

      Cecilia, it is amazing you lived through that ordeal. They say every second counts after a rupture. Often there is a second hemorrhage that is deadly if the first rupture has not been repaired. Many people don’t realize they had a rupture. In my case it was very obvious plus my kids were here to call 911.

      Good luck to you both. Thank you for sharing your stories. God bless you both and keep fighting!

    • Cindy

      Cecelia, I’m sorry I misspelled your name when I replied. I just had brain surgery Monday and still not thinking clearly. I am doing great though.

  3. Robert Burleson

    Hi my name is Robert, I had a brain anurizum in August of 2009 and I know the path you have taken I have taken the same path and I am glad to see you have made it this far if you are like I am it is not over but nether is the fight you have my prayers and my faith you will make it keep on truckin Robert another survivor

    • Cindy

      Robert, yours was only three months before mine. There have been many struggles but I feel very blessed to be alive. My shunt was changed Monday and all stroke like symptoms are gone. Congratulations on your survival. Yes, keep on truckin as well, Robert. I hope things keep improving for you. God bless you!

  4. Sue

    I fought like a girl! Survivor of brain anerism and loss of vision! But I made it back from Crazy Town and better than ever!

    • Cindy

      That is great, Sue. We are here for a reason. Sorry about your loss of vision. Congratulations on surviving this deadly disease. Keep fighting like a girl!

  5. Cindy Mayes

    Just wanted to update my story. My shunt was replaced and it has opened the ventricles of my brain back up. It is working properly, so the surgery was a success. I have chronic pain in my low back and hip but am having an experimental treatment to fix it. Hopefully it will get better. I am very optimistic. The surgeon I referred to in my previous story is, Dr. Daniel Barrow at Emory in Atlanta. Thank you for featuring my story.

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