On Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 13, just before 5 pm, my cousin Martha suddenly felt a splitting headache. She knew the pain was completely different from anything she'd ever felt before.
"Worse than childbirth?" I asked her today.
"Oh, yes," she said.
"I didn't know it was possible to go past that kind of pain," I said, unable to imagine it.
Soon she was in an ambulance, in the hospital, in a helicopter to Denver, and the next day in surgery for a small aneurysm in her anterior communicating artery. A team of seven opened her skull and put a clamp on the "berry" type of bulge in a Y-shaped place where the artery branches into two.
"There are two types of aneurysm," her daughter Sarah explained to me today. "She had a 'slow bleed'--not a burst artery. But during surgery the berry did break and bleed. The doctors cleaned up the blood after clamping it."
Martha explained that aneurysms are a type of stroke--a bleeding stroke. I knew only about clotting strokes. Both types can deprive part of the brain of oxygen.
A month later, Martha is home, walking and talking--a glowing, healthy miracle. We went out to lunch at Shuga, the cafe where her son is the chef.
She has headaches some days--like today--and she's taking medicine to reduce the blood clot in her lower right leg. She tires easily--not yet ready to return to work.
But she's very thankful as Turkey Day approaches.
From her smile and from talking about all this with her daughters, I learned so much about thanksgiving.