The following article was written by local resident Terri Fitzsimmons, a survivor of the Paradise Fire (Nov 8, 2018). She is a published author and is a current member of the Writing Club In Sun City.
It appears that the flames from the Paradise Fire that took place on November 8, 2018 are still chasing me, I lost everything in that fire and tried to move on. However, just a few months later, I lost my mother, had to put my cat to sleep, and even suffered a hit and run accident – a drunken driver ran into my house and managed to flee on foot.
So, I decided to make a fresh start in California, having expectations of being healed physically and emotionally by the perpetual sunshine. Before we made the move to California from Medford Oregon, I became aware of changes in my eyesight; I began seeing double and in November of last year, while I was driving home from Grants Pass, the lanes in front of me doubled! I had to drive with one eye closed. Also I was suffering with severe headaches.
After we moved to Indio, I proceeded to procure new health insurance. After many setbacks, I was able to meet with an ophthalmologist who told me to see an optometrist to get eyeglasses with prisms. I disagreed. I knew that there was something wrong that was causing my headaches and vision problems. So, he ordered an MRI. Two weeks later I was informed that I had an aneurysm in my brain. My first thought was “I am being given a death sentence!” But, I was reassured that my condition was treatable. I was referred to a neurosurgeon who set me up with an intervention radiologist.
And so began my course of treatment. I had an MRA to see exactly where I would be treated. Then I underwent an angiogram, and two days later I had a coiling procedure. A catheter was placed in my groin and little coils were transferred to my brain. I spent the night in ICU and was sent home the next day.
I spent the next two weeks in emotional turmoil. My headaches were constant and excruciating. I was fearful that one of the coils may slip. I was afraid to bend over. I wanted to get my hair tinted so I called the surgeon who said that I was not allowed to bend backwards. I spent hours googling information on aneurysms, which only exasperated the situation. Now, I was fearful I would need another procedure, that the headaches would last for years!
Last week I had the follow up appointment with the surgeon. I had a list of questions. Will this shorten my life span? Can the coils slip? Could I get another aneurysm? Twenty minutes later, I walked out of the office, still in shock. I was fine. I was healthy. I could resume all my normal activities. The surgeon even showed me my brain filled with all the coils – I was indeed wired!!
My journey is far from over. I have been given an opportunity to help others. I am filled with gratitude for the physicians and for the latest technology. The surgeon did agree with me that because I was in tune with my body. I noticed subtle changes and warning signs, that prevented the aneurysm from bursting by seeking help.
Having an aneurysm is a silent killer but there are signs that we can be aware of; chronic headaches, neckaches, double vision and nausea. My niece has all these signs and I am urging her to get an MRI.
We are living in an age where we can prevent what used to be death sentences. It is a wonderful time to be alive!
It is believed that we undergo negative experiences in our lives for a reason. There are lessons to be learned. I have walked away knowing the importance of listening to my body and I am working toward helping others to listen to their bodies.