Survivor Around the Globe, Tara Thornton
In Oct of 2006 I started having memory and balance issues. At that time I was a cocktail waitress in a casino in Las Vegas. An EMT at work suggested I get checked out by my doctor. I made an appointment for the next day. My doctor thought I had a herniated disc and sent me for a cat scan. I got a call within hours of having the scan done and my doctor let me know something showed up in my head and need to have an MRI to find out what exactly it was. They originally thought it was a tumor. He called me the day after the MRI and let me know it wasn’t a tumor, it was an aneurysm. A 9x9x9 aneurysm in the middle of the Circle of Willis.
He sent me to a neurosurgeon at Western Regional Brain and Spine. They did MRI’s, MRA’s and angiograms. My surgeon discussed with me the options they had at that time. Clipping or coiling. Together we felt the clipping would be best. On December 13th I went in for the clipping. It unfortunately wasn’t successful – the neck of the aneurysm was too big. They put my skull back together and sent me to intensive care. I was there 3 days. I was then informed I needed to come back for the coiling.
On December 26th, I had the coiling done. Everything changed for me after that. They sent me home that day. I woke up the next day not knowing how to work my phone or tv remote. I cried and went back to sleep. When I woke up later, my hand and arm were tingling. I spoke very slow. It didn’t last long. I found out later I was having TIA’s (ministrokes). This went on for four days. On New Year’s Eve, I couldn’t move my right side. My oldest daughter was with me and she called 911. The paramedics had my girls take me to the hospital. I was taken back for an MRI and admitted. I felt so bad I didn’t think I was going to make it – the worst part was I didn’t care.
I was there for four more days and a lot of tests. The angiograms are the ones that always stands out. When I was released, I couldn’t sit or stand without getting extremely dizzy and nauseous. I couldn’t handle any light and I was on all kinds of medication.
About two months later I tried to go back to work. I was taken out by ambulance three times with petite mall seizures. I couldn’t be around the flashing lights or smoke. I transferred into an office, but going back to work was tough. I was going for MRA’s at 3, 6 and 12 months. The coiling was working.
Then, when I went I went in for my checkup in 2010, my wonderful Interventional Radiologist from RedRock Radiology let me know the aneurysm was growing. He recommended using glue, Black Onyx, to try and close it up. The recovery from this was also hard. That held until 2014. When I went for my checkup, he informed me it was growing again and there was another one on the other side of same vessel.
A week later they put in a pipeline stent. I was tired and weak after procedure. Approximately a week later I started having petite mall seizures again. It was a hard time recovering. I took a couple weeks off work then went back. At this time, I had moved to Texas and was working for a property management company. I have a great neurologist in Texas.
Although it has been a struggle, I feel so blessed! I’m not going to lie, the past 11 years have been quite a struggle. I lost everything financially, but I have my life. Going through what I did changed my way of thinking and what is important. I do not take life for granted anymore. I appreciate all the help my family and friends gave me. I couldn’t have done it without them. My daughters (I have four) stepped up to the plate and took care of me. It brought us closer. I live my life to the fullest and go for my dreams. I now have my dream job as a flight attendant.
The Joe Niekro Foundation would like to thank Tara for sharing her journey with us. We are continuously amazed by the strength of our community. We wish Tara and her family continued health!
Have a story to share? Submit your story here.Posted on Tuesday, September 5, 2017