The comeback 

is stronger than the setback

Life seems to be ridiculously full of many ups and downs. Testing moments to see how one handles a situation and to see how strong one is. Some, unfortunately, are challenged more than others, although those who come out of it, come out stronger than ever before. Anna-Maria is a rarity, yet truly one of the most incredible people I have met. She has certainly had her share of ups and downs as she is a survivor of not one ruptured aneurysm, but two..!

 

A few months ago while Anna-Maria went for a check-up at Burnaby general hospital her husband was passing the time going through the newspapers provided in the waiting room. He ironically came across the Coast Reporter, a local Sunshine Coast newspaper, that had recently printed an article on my AVM & Aneurysm Photography Awareness Project. He mentioned to Anna-Maria that you need to get in touch with this girl, and I could not be more thankful that she did! Up until this point I never considered or heard of anyone having two ruptures, not alone surviving both! 

 

Anna-Maria experienced her first rupture in 1985. She had been experiencing many headaches and migraines for a period of time, but unfortunately, her doctor didn't see them as a threat and decided to treat them with a cocktail of pain pills. Obviously, she didn't think anything of it either at that time. Anna-Maria carried on as usual. She came home to an empty house. Her husband was still at work, and her two sons were at school. She called her brother and sister-in-law, who lived down the road for an afternoon chat. While on the phone and sitting in the front foyer of her home, Anna-Maria all of a sudden collapsed. Her family on the other end of the phone didn't know what happened and came rushing to find her on the floor. They immediately took her to the emergency at Lions Gate Hospital when the doctors had discovered she had a ruptured aneurysm. Anna-Maria underwent open craniotomy surgery and had the aneurysm clipped. She was incredibly lucky to walk away from this experience with no side effects. 

 

Now fast-forward to 2018. Anna-Maria again started to receive numerous headaches and migraines but again the doctors treated them with pain meds. No one even considered that the headaches could have been caused by a second aneurysm.

 

One night, just as Anna-Maria was going to bed, she knew something wasn't right. 2 AM rolled around and she experienced the worse headache one could imagine. She woke her husband up and insisted they needed to go to emergency right way. With no hesitation, her husband rushed her to the hospital where Anna-Maria amazingly checked herself in and was surprisingly coherent. Although looking back, she doesn't remember much at all and her family members have had to tell her what happened as she must have blacked out. Anna-Maria was rushed to the ICU at Vancouver General Hospital where she was under critical watch 24 hours a day. Soon after they rushed her to surgery where her husband lightheartedly joked to the doctors that she already ’drew a map’ for them as she underwent a second open craniotomy surgery.

 

Anna-Maria made it to luckily day number eleven, the magic number of days a survivor of a rupture is in the hospital for. Once a survivor makes it to the eleventh day, they are released back to their families and homes with periodic check-ups afterward. Once again, Anna-Maria walked away from the second rupture with little to no side-effects.

 

As I have already mentioned, I am incredibly thankful to have met Anna-Maria, and cannot thank her husband enough for initially connecting us. She lives every day to the fullest, has an incredible unconditional bond with her family, and bounces straight back when something takes her down.

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