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Rachel Hart's Story

 

From: "Rachel Hart" rachel_hart10@yahoo.com
Sent: December 13, 2007

Rachel HartDuring the summer of 2007 I received wonderful news. I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled. We were trying to conceive, and our hopes of starting a family were finally a reality. I quickly made an appointment with my OB to confirm. Because I was having a bit of cramping, he wanted me to come in sooner than the standard eight week mark. At my first appointment he did a sonogram, and ran blood work. The sonogram showed nothing because it was too early in the pregnancy. But, the blood work confirmed my wonderful news.

Throughout the next few weeks I started to experience TERRIBLE headaches. Of course I was concerned because I was never a headache person. I called my OB, and he said not to worry. It is normal due to the change hormones. Finally, our eight week appointment came. We were excited because we were actually going to be able to see the baby. My doctor performed the sonogram and immediately found the baby. My OB did not say anything to us; he just kept moving the wand around. I could tell something was wrong. He looked at my husband and me and said, “I am sorry, but there is no heartbeat.” I was devastated. I was sure everything was going to be just fine. For the past four weeks all I wanted to do was vomit…how could things not be okay? My OB schedules a D&C for the very next day. It would not be until a few weeks later would be realized that was actually our guardian angel.

A week after my D&C my headaches returned. I called my OB and he did not feel they were related to my pregnancy and requested I call my family doctor. I made an appointment with my family doctor. He did not feel the headaches were anything to worry about. He felt I had been through something devastating, and they were probably stress related. I understood where he was coming from, but was not sure that I believed him. Something just did not feel right. I was not a headache person, and these headaches were so different from the headaches I had in the past. I tried the headache medicine he subscribed, and that did not work. Nothing worked, nothing would cure the pain. I called my family doctor back, and he decided to try me on antibiotics. He thought maybe it was my sinuses…That did not work either. There were some days my headaches were so bad I was convinced I had an aneurysm. I would just go to bed at night praying that I would have a tomorrow. Finally, I convinced myself it was just stressed and it would pass. I have always been known as a “hypochondriac” and figured stressing about the headaches was just making matters worse.

A few weeks later my husband and I went to New York on a summer vacation, and while there my headaches got worse. There was one night I was in so much pain I almost had my husband take me to the ER. I was afraid of going and what I may find out so I just took a pain pill, and went to sleep. At this point I knew it was more than stress. The very next day I phoned my doctor from New York and told him I wanted to see a Neurologist. He still believed it was stress, but for my piece of mind he decided to refer me. As soon as I got of the phone with him I called the Neurologist. They luckily had an appointment for the day after we returned.

On Wednesday, August 1st, I meet with the neurologist. After a quick review, he sided with my family doctor. He felt it was stress, but wanted to run and MRI/MRA just to be sure. His thought was maybe a blood clot traveled to my brain during the miscarriage. The following Monday I had my MRI/MRA. When we left they said the results would be in my doctor’s hands by the end of that day. My follow-up appointment with the neurologist was in three days. I was so nervous, I just could not wait. I called the neurologists office and re-scheduled my appointment for the following day. I was so nervous that night. I could not sleep. Deep down I just knew something was not right. The next morning, my husband and I went to the appointments.

I was terrified, my blood pressure skyrocketed and I was shaking. The neurologist walked in the room, looked at me and said you have an aneurysm. No hello, no how are you feeling? He just blurted out the news. After he literally picked me up off the floor, he told me he was sending me to a Neurosurgeon. My husband and I asked him several questions and he would not answer one of them. All he would say was, “I do not know.” Even though I knew something was wrong, I guess I did not believe I would actually be right. I am young and naïve. Bad things can’t happen to me.

Luckily the Neurosurgeon he sent us to fit me in that same day. My father rushed home and he and my husband took me to the surgeon. When we arrived we were faced with another shock. It was a spine and back neurosurgeon. How was he going to help me with my brain? When he walked in the room, the first thing he said to me was, “You are going to be okay. This is one of two things: an aneurysm that is thrombus or a Cavernous Angioma.” He took his time and explained the details of each possibility. He then said that this was not his specialty area so he was sending me to Dr. Duke Samson at UTSouthwestern in Dallas. He explained how fortunate I was to be living in this area. He said UTSouthwestern is in the top three Neuro Hospitals in the Country, and Dr. Samson is considered one of the top neurosurgeons in the country. Thank you! The first good piece of news I received all day.

Dr. Samson’s office contacted me the next day and scheduled an appointment for the following Tuesday. Of course I wished he could get me in sooner, but felt blessed he could get me in at all. Then came Tuesday. I was terrified, but confident because we knew we were in the best possible hands. When we arrived they immediately escorted us to a room. Shortly after, Dr. Samson came in, talked with me for a while, and then reviewed my MRI. In a matter seconds he told me I had a Cavernous Angioma, and he could tell there was a recent hemorrhage. He described to me in detail what that meant and what my options were. He strongly felt, but could not say for sure, that my recent pregnancy caused it to hemorrhage. He thought surgery was the best option. He knew I wanted to start a family and did not want my husband and me to be faced with the possibility of a future hemorrhage. This hemorrhage only caused severe headaches. If it hemorrhages again, the side effects could be more severe. My mind was made up. I wanted surgery. A craniotomy sounded terrifying, but I did not want to ever have to worry about my Cavernous Angioma again.

I wanted the surgery today! Dr. Samson felt the best option was to wait a few weeks so the blood could reabsorb. He felt that would put me at the least amount of risk. I left his office that day with a sense of calmness and sureness. Dr. Samson has amazing bedside manner and just had a way of putting me at ease. I truly felt blessed God sent Dr. Samson to me.

Two weeks later, August 28th, I was scheduled for a CAT Scan to see if the swelling of the CA had reduced. Luckily it had! Dr. Samson said it was time to schedule surgery. I wanted the first available date and time. My surgery was then set for September 12th at 12:30. The next few weeks dragged by, as sure as I was; of course I was still terrified. I was having brain surgery. I tried to keep myself as busy as possible. I am a teacher, and had six weeks of lesson plans to make perfect for my replacement. Over the next two week I contacted Dr. Samson’s nurse pretty much on a daily basis. I had question after question. She was so wonderful and patient with me.

September 11th came quicker then I thought it would. I was scheduled for my pre-op. I had blood work done and a 3T MRI. After that I met with the Neuro Anesthesiologist and Dr. Samson’s NP. They were both wonderful and explained every possible detail to me. The nurse practitioner truly put me at ease. She said there would be very little pain because there are not a lot of nerves and muscles where the incision will be. She said the most sufficient pain will be in my jaw. The incision was a C shape from the middle of my forehead to the top of my left ear. That is where the jaw muscle is located and that would be cut. She also restated what Dr. Samson had previously told me, there was a big possibility that I would have short term memory loss. My CM was located extremely close to my short term memory switch. I already had a bad memory, so how much worse could it really get?

I went home that night and slept soundly. I was at totally peace. I was 100% confident in my surgeon and knew it was now out of my hands. I woke up the next morning and was ready to go. I had to be there at 10:30, so of course the morning dragged on. As soon as I arrived at Zale Lipshy, I was quickly greeted and taken back to the pre-op area. Dr. Samson soon came to see me. His confidence and reassurance confirmed in my mind this was what needed to be done. He walked me through what he was going to do, gave me a hug and said he would see me in surgery. As soon as he left, the Neuro Anes came in. They described what they would be doing and gave me some happy juice. Soon after, I gave hugs to all of my family members and was wheeled back to surgery. I remember them putting me on the operating table, and then I was fast asleep.

The next thing I knew the Anesthesiologist woke me up. All of my tubes were out and I was on my way to ICU. From that moment on, I remember everything. Amazingly I was extremely alert. My first night in ICU dragged. The nurses were in and out and I had a CAT Scan and MRI performed.

I had the most amazing nursing staff working with me. The doctors and residents were also phenomenal. They were all constantly wondering what they could do to make me feel more comfortable. My hospital stay was very uneventful. I slept a lot and did a great deal of walking the halls. Luckily my short term memory loss was not too bad. It did set in, but only lasted a few days.

I am now three months post surgery and feeling wonderful. I have the best support system behind me. My family and friends were truly amazing. They were by my side and did what ever they could to make this trying time easier for me. I am now back to work and back to my everyday life. Sure there are times when I am still fatigued, and I still do get headaches, but I feel a great sense of relief knowing the worst is over. And if something does, God forbid happen, I have the best surgeon on my side.

My husband and I now know the baby we lost was our guardian angel. God sent it our way to tell me I had something more important to take care in my life before bringing another life into this world.

Update 12/1/2009:

I am proud to say that I gave birth to a health and happy baby boy in December of 08’.

My husband and I are thrilled to have this miracle baby boy after suffering such from such a terrible loss. Dane is the light of our lives, and he reminds us daily of just how lucky we are.

My health has been great since surgery. My headaches went away for a while after surgery, but sadly they have returned. I still suffer from daily headaches. Some days are worse than others, but we are managing. I am currently being treated by an incredible neurologist and neurosurgeon. We will try all medications til’ we can get it right. 

 I have had several MRIs since surgery and they have all come back clear! YEAH. I am truly blessed!!

Rachel Hart
Dallas, TX