• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor April Messier

Hello, my name is April Messier. My life started to change on December 16 of 2011!

I never know how to start these things, so I guess I just have to start out. We were going to be going out to eat for dinner to Ma Raffa's. I just had to go use the bathroom before we left. While I was in the bathroom, I got an extremely bad headache. When I came out of the bathroom, the headache became so severe, I fell to the floor, screaming in pain. My dog Brody came running to my side, giving me kisses as if to ask, "what is wrong, how can I make my mommy better? “My mom then came over and asked me to sit on the stairs for a few minutes. I want to say it was like less than 5 minutes, and I started puking everywhere. At that point, they were like "Okay we are not sure what is going on so let's go to the E.R."

So, off I went to the E.R. it seemed like it took forever to get there and get seen, but I finally got in and everything. They told me I had a small bleed in my brain, and that they weren't equipped to handle an issue like that. They gave me two options....Boston or Providence. My parents chose Providence because it was a lot closer than Boston is. So, off I went to Providence in an ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital. Again, it seemed like it took forever to get there but I finally got there and was seen easily because it was considered an emergency. Dr. Curtis Doberstein was the doctor who oversaw making sure I was stable and everything.

I was admitted to Rhode Island Hospital, where they did all sorts of tests. What they found out was that I had what is known as an AVM, which is basically a tangled mess of blood vessels in my brain that did not do anything at all, except tend to bleed and cause problems. They informed us that there were 3 options to take care of this issue: Inject a “glue” like substance to block the vessels, radiation, or surgery. They then determined that my veins were too small for the “glue” procedure, and the radiation treatment would take probably a few years to be successful, so with the help of my parents, we decided to go for the surgery. The doctor could have done it right away, since his calendar was practically clear at that point, but I wanted to be able to enjoy the holidays with my family. So, we scheduled the surgery for January 11, 2012.

The thought of brain surgery was frightening, but we had every confidence in our neurosurgeon. They were almost finished with the surgery, when a disaster occurred: One end of the AVM was apparently buried deep inside my brain, and started to bleed as they were removing it, which in turn caused my brain to start swelling immediately. They had to put drains on both sides of my brain to remove the bloody fluids so it would not irritate it more, and needed to allow room (if needed) for more swelling, so they could not replace my bone flap at this time.

They also kept me in a drug induced coma to allow my brain and body to rest and recover. It was during this time that I saw AND spoke to God. He told me that I was not done with life yet, and ever since then I have loved him with all my heart. I think the doctors kept me sedated for at least a week, but I am not sure. I do know my parents were greatly relieved when the drains were finally able to come out, but I was still sedated. I also had to have a trach tube put in to help me with my breathing (I was on a ventilator for a while), and later a feeding tube put in because I was unable to eat.

I was at Rhode Island Hospital for almost a month (Jan 11- Feb.  before I was sent to New Bedford Rehabilitation Hospital for my long, hard recovery. There was LOTS of physical therapy (I had to learn how to walk all over again!), and had to wear a protective helmet every time I got out of my bed. Trust me, though, I did not move much at all for the first 2-3 weeks I was there.

I had many more tests done which sometimes involved a ride in an ambulance, and one more surgery to replace my bone flap at the end of May (yay, no more helmet!) I spent about 4 and a half months in the rehab hospital, but at least I made many new friends there, and it was not far from home, so my parents could come every day to push me and love me.

There is a wonderful memory I have from rehab, and that is every night my Dad would play a song by Billy Currington........”God is Great, Beer is Good, and People Are Crazy” Maybe that is why it is my all time favorite song.

Thank you for letting me join this helpful Family!

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