Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Brain Aneurysm 101

Ok... so up there in my header it mentions "the brain stuff." If you wondered what that meant, I'm here to explain. And please bear with me, because this WILL tie in to books eventually. After all, books are my life. In honor of September (National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month... if Congress ever gets around to declaring it. House Resolution 263 still needs more co-sponsors before they can pass the legislation), I present to you the basics of brain aneurysm awareness:

1) A brain aneurysm is NOT a brain tumor. They are two completely different illnesses.

2) A brain aneurysm is a bubble or bulge in a weakened wall of an artery in the brain. In my case it developed on the tip of the basilar artery.

3) According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 1 in 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm.

4) Approximately 25,000 people per year will suffer a cerebral aneurysmal rupture.

5) According to Dr. Kwan, the neuroradiologist who coiled my aneurysm, one third of rupture patients die within 15 minutes. Of those who survive the initial bleed, one third will die of complications, one third will survive with some deficit and one third will survive and return to the baseline state.

So the odds of me fully recovering worked out to something like 1 in 9. I'm one of the lucky ones. I was able to go back to work (on a limited basis) three months after my rupture. But it took me a full year and a half to feel like myself again.

Yes, I am a brain aneurysm survivor. And, yes, I work in a bookstore. Would you believe in seven years of working in the Children's Department, the only book I've come across that treats brain aneurysms with respect is Tangerine by Edward Bloor? (Thank you, Mr. Bloor.)

Then there are books that turn aneurysms into a joke. On page 357 of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Bella says: "It appeared that Charlie was having an aneurysm." She does something similar in New Moon, when Bella tells Jacob, "Don't have a brain hemorrhage, Jacob." As someone who actually had a brain hemorrhage, I can tell you there is nothing funny about it.

Now if someone would just write a book in which the brain aneurysm sufferer actually lives...


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