When applying for a new job or a position of promotion, the job often requires that you complete an application, submit a resume, and complete a series of exams. However, there are rare opportunities in life where a position becomes available where you are Chosen for an assignment that you may not immediately recall applying for. The Lord was in need of someone to use to demonstrate His power to work miracles, and I was Chosen. I do not remember submitting my application, resume, or completing a series of tests, but the Lord reminded me of the day that I prayed a simple prayer: “Lord use me. For your Glory, Lord, use me. Amen.” I was Chosen for this assignment, and I thank God that he found me worthy of the position. Please allow me to share my story………
It’s every woman’s dream to have a man take her out on a date transported by a private jet. Little did I know the Lord would fulfill my dream as a means of life flight transportation after suffering a near-death brain aneurysm on my mother’s 72nd birthday, August 15, 2011. Unfortunately, I have suffered short-term memory loss due to my aneurysm and have little to no memory of the events that took place on that day. I do recall preparing myself for work and having what I thought was the worst headache ever. Hours later, my youngest daughter, Wendy, then 14, found me unresponsive in my bedroom, in a puddle of vomit. Wendy ran to get help from her sister, my oldest daughter, Lyndsey, then 20, and my daughters made every attempt to revive me. Thank God my children were home, but unfortunately, I did not respond to their efforts to mobilize their mother. Their immediate response led them to do what most children do, call their grandmother for help. It was probably one of the worst telephone calls that my mother has ever received.
My mother became their personal 911 operator and instructed the girls to dial 911 immediately and call their Uncle Brother (my brother and his family live right around the corner from my family) with great hopes he would see exactly what was going on. I was transported by ambulance to St. Elizabeth hospital, where for hours, no one could determine what was wrong with me. The paramedics were sure I had overdosed on drugs. After several extensive tests, a small bleed was located in my brain on the right side. The medical staff then informed my family that I had about 3 hours to live. The closest doctors trained to handle my medical condition’s severity were available at Memorial Hermann Hospital – Houston, TX. Within minutes, those three hours became two hours, requiring transport by the life flight ambulatory team.
Upon my arrival at Memorial Hermann, a team of doctors led by neurosurgeons Dr. Peng Roc Chen and Dr. Arthur L. Day performed a seven-hour surgery making every effort to get to the bleed in my brain. Discovering the aneurysm was complicated due to its small size and its location. Three days after arriving at the hospital, my doctors performed a stent-assisted coil embolization to stop the bleed in my brain and secure my aneurysm. An abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid known to many as “water on the brain” required placement of a cerebral shunt to be inserted into my brain as well. I was then placed in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit for the next 19 days. This was a challenging time for my family. Visitation was restricted, and those allowed visitations had to sign in and wear a gown and gloves. I spent most of my days in the hospital highly sedated and attached to many devices, monitoring my brain’s pressure, checking for any new bleeding, and determining how my body functioned after having brain surgery. It was harrowing for my family to see me in this condition, witness me having seizures, and see my head all bandaged, not knowing if the surgical procedures had secured the ruptured vessels. The doctors initially informed my family that I would more than likely require at least two years of rehab, but the Lord blessed me that I never set foot in a rehab center. After being discharged, I returned to my home to begin my rehabilitation with home health care, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and my mother moved in to oversee my family caring for me.
After returning home, my family had to bring me back to Memorial Hermann Houston each week for routine cerebral angiograms to check the treated aneurysm. Two weeks after returning home, a routine cerebral angiogram showed that I had a recurrent aneurysm, and again, I was bleeding on the brain. At this time, a decision to either have my aneurysm clipped or try coiling it again was necessary. Clipped or coiled, the risk included potential bleeding on the brain, temporary or permanent neurologic problems, seizures, or death. I was readmitted to the hospital again. My doctors attempted to perform another stent-assisted coil embolization, and again, they were unsuccessful. At that time, my family was asked to allow me to participate in a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD) project called “Cordis Enterprise Vascular Reconstruction Device and Delivery System – Humanitarian Use Device” being conducted by Dr. Peng Roc Chen and his research staff of the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston. A Humanitarian Use Device is a device that is “intended to benefit patients in the treatment and diagnosis of diseases or conditions that affect fewer than 4000 individuals in the United States. This HUD was FDA approved but experimental because there were too few patients with this type of aneurysm to allow for traditional clinical trial testing to be performed in a timely manner. I have become a case study for the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, TX. After three brain surgeries and ten cerebral angiograms, the stent is holding, and my aneurysm has been successfully repaired. Life for me after my aneurysm has been difficult, but God has been good to me.
In most cases, brain aneurysms are not hereditary, and there is generally only a single case in a family. Occasionally, however, an individual with a brain aneurysm will have other family members who are affected. When two or more first-degree relatives (parent, child, or sibling) have proven aneurysms, these are called “familial aneurysms.”
Individuals in these families may be at higher risk of developing aneurysms than the general population. Therefore aneurysm screening with an imaging study of the brain arteries is usually recommended, particularly for first-degree relatives.
For years I suffered from migraine headaches to the point where I popped migraine pills like they were Skittles candy. I had become so accustomed to having migraines that I taught myself to push past the pain and keep life moving forward. It wasn’t until after my rupture that my family history questions were raised, and the medical team began a thorough analysis that later confirmed evidence of a hereditary trait existed within our family.
At the tender age of 41, my grandfather, Mr. Lucius Goudeau, Sr. suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and left this earth on May 1, 1959. Surgeries were performed to save his life, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful. He lived only one week after suffering his rupture. Years later, my great-uncle, his oldest brother, Mr. Ednes Goudeau, who we affectionately referred to as “Uncle Brother,” also suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. By the grace of God, he lived and later died of another illness. For a third time, this silent killer reoccurred in the Goudeau family and attacked the life of one of my grandfather’s six children, my aunt Mrs. Mae Ceola Goudeau-Williams. “Nanny Boo,” as we affectionately called her, suffered her ruptured brain aneurysm one Friday evening, and she lived only three days after her rupture. Nanny Boo departed this life in May 2004 at the tender age of 62.
Without any signs or warnings, this horrible disease attacked my family yet again. August 15, 2011, this time, it was my brain that exploded. Studies have proven that people who have a family history of brain aneurysms are twice as likely to have an aneurysm as those who don’t. We understood the statistics, but honestly, we gave no thought to it ever striking our family again. It wasn’t until the medical team began probing for answers that anyone in my family even mentioned a brain aneurysm at all. After being the fourth member of our family to be affected by this horrible disease, I received an invitation to participate in a genetic study. The genetic research would help to identify any other family members that may also be carrying the trait. When asked, my family agreed to participate in the research testing to assist the research team in confirming or ruling out a suspected genetic condition. The experiment would also help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. This very study ended up saving the life of my youngest daughter, Wendy, by discovering that she also has a brain aneurysm. We always knew it was possible, but we never believed that it would happen again.
Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change our DNA, but we will exercise our faith and fight to change the way the world sees brain aneurysms.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord’s hand is upon my life. People see me and are amazed that I possess no physical evidence of suffering such a loss. My speech is not slurred. I walk without the aid of a walker or a cane. After my hair grew back, my skull’s deformities are no longer seen by the physical eye. Initially, I suffered the inability to use my right leg, but I am making strides in high heels after Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change our DNA, but we will exercise our faith and fight to change the way the world sees brain aneurysms. extensive physical therapy. I lost central vision in my right eye due to a Valsalva hemorrhage, but today my vision has been restored, and with the help of contact lenses, I now see 20/20. I have suffered short-term memory loss, and I’ve been informed that I may never regain it. Yet, with the help of repetition, sound alarms in my cellular phone, color-coded to-do list, and a host of sticky notes everywhere, I have learned to recall day-to-day events. It has been reported that I am a prime candidate for Alzheimer’s disease, but I am fighting to WIN this race! For a while, I could do very little for myself, BUT today, I am thankful for the Grace of God!
For a while, I could do very little for myself, BUT today God has graced me with a complete 360! Surviving my ruptured brain aneurysm has given me a new lease on life. As a survivor, I must share my journey as a reach back to help someone else. I Lobby on Capitol Hill and serve on the Governmental Affairs Committee for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. The Brain Aneurysm Support Group of Memorial Hermann Hospital was started in honor of my survival. In great efforts to help others like me, I started a non-profit foundation, MY Ephesians 3:20 – “MYE320,”; that offers scholarships to students of brain aneurysm survivors, students who have lost parents to brain aneurysms, and students who have suffered brain aneurysms themselves. I am an active military wife who volunteers my gifts and talents as a Command Volunteer Advisor to help military families worldwide. My husband, Lieutenant Colonel Albert, and I have proudly served our country for over 36 years. I am a skilled and gifted writer with a repertoire that includes publishings as an author, ghostwriter, and contributing author in numerous magazines, newspapers, and books throughout four continents: North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. After my aneurysm, I was one of fifty people across the world invited to participate in the Oxford Round Table. Today I continue to travel across the globe preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, delivering hope and healing messages, and sharing my testimony to remind the world that God still performs miracles.
Some days are better than others, and there are still some hurdles in life that I have not yet climbed, but God has been good. In a moment of frustration, I asked my doctor when will I do this and when will I do that, and can I do this and can I do that, and my frustration turned into immediate thanksgiving to hear my doctor say, “Arlicia, I honestly don’t know. I have only had five patients with similar aneurysms to participate in the HUD program, and of the five patients, two of them have died, and two are in a vegetation state of living – YOU are the ONLY ONE that I have that is walking and talking!” He said, “When you ask me those questions, I honestly don’t know. I do not have a patient that I can refer to; you are the one, so we will have to learn together“ I left the doctor’s office in tears and rejoicing because, without a doubt, my life proves that GOD still works miracles!
Arlicia R. Albert Ruptured Brain Aneurysm Survivor
Married to Lt. Col. Wendell M. Albert – U. S. Army Executive Officer stationed at the Pentagon
Mother of 2 beautiful daughters Lyndsey – 29 and Wendy 23
Web Address: www.ArliciaAlbert.com