Recently I got the chance to meet with one of Plus One’s grant recipients, Mary. Back in 2007, Mary had just given birth to her twin daughters eight days earlier, when in a blink of an eye her life changed forever. Mary suffered from a brain aneurysm and was then rushed in to have an emergency brain surgery and fell into a coma for three months.
Of course before meeting Mary I did a little research on brain aneurysms and here is what I found. A brain aneurysm is s a weak bulging spot on the wall of a brain artery, when the aneurysm ruptures it allows blood to escape into the space around the brain. About 30,000 people in the United States suffer a brain aneurysm rupture, or there is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes. Ruptured brain aneurysms are fatal in about 40% of cases. Of those who survive, about 66% suffer some permanent neurological deficit.
Needless to say Mary’s life has changed drastically since her brain aneurysm. She had to relearn all the basic things that we take for granted like walking, talking, and breathing. Mary does one-on-one Mobility and Balance training with a physical instructor, Sue. These sessions are so Mary can work on her strength, balance, and mobility. I got to meet with Mary during one of her sessions and got to learn how Sue is such an important part in Mary’s rehabilitation.
Sue does a lot to help Mary. One thing Sue does is since Mary is no longer able to drive, Sue drives to Mary’s house once a week for their sessions. Mary gets distracted easily and Sue is always thinking of new ways to keep her attention. One way she does this is through music. Mary danced and sang to Bruce Springsteen for almost the entire session and she absolutely loved it. Another thing that Sue realized keeps Mary focused is numbers, when doing a certain exercise if Sue didn’t tell her to do a certain amount Mary would get distracted and start talking to me. But the moment Sue told Mary “Ok now do five more” Mary would instantly get motivated and would start counting in French!
My favorite part of going to Mary’s session with Sue was at the very end when Mary told me her goal to run again. Mary used to run on the UW cross country team and could run a half mile in TWO minutes. Since the brain aneurysm, Mary has had to relearn how to walk and now that she has got that down she wants to get back to doing the thing she loved, running. At the end of the session Mary ‘jogged’ across her living room and she had the largest smile on her face.
While talking with the two of them, I could see that Mary and Sue had become friends in their time together. And to end this I would like to quote Sue and Mary. Sue told me “My favorite part of working with Mary is her great sense of humor” to which Mary responded “You can’t get through life without being able to laugh” Even though Mary’s life changed so drastically and so quickly she remembers to laugh. And this reminds me that everything I do for Plus One is to help people like Mary smile again and find some hope and laughter in their lives.
If you are interested in learning more about brain aneurysms check out http://www.bafound.org/
Plus One Foundation