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Learning from a Spouse of a Brain Aneurysm Patient

The spouse of a ruptured brain aneurysm patient shares her experience caring for her husband for over 12 years.

By Mehmet Mercan / Edited by Derek Chen

Updated July 14, 2023

Brain Aneurysm

A brain aneurysm refers to weakness in a blood vessel of the brain that fills with blood and is capable of rupturing. The condition is most common in individuals between 30 and 60. There are two main types of brain aneurysms: ruptured and unruptured. In unruptured brain aneurysms, the blood vessel does not burst, while in ruptured aneurysms, the blood vessel does burst. There are roughly 30,000 ruptured brain aneurysm cases in the US annually, and genetics increases the likelihood of a rupture.

When a brain aneurysm ruptures, blood spills into surrounding brain tissue causing excessive pressure and making the brain swell, leading to neurotic damage. In many cases, ruptured aneurysms can lead to seizures, comas, and paralysis. Additionally, nearly 50% of all ruptured aneurysm cases directly result in death. Symptoms of a ruptured aneurysm include sudden and severe thunderclap headaches, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, blurred vision or double vision, seizures, and sensitivity to light (photophobia).

Getting the Rupture

Our anonymous interviewee, whom we will refer to as Jasmine, is the spouse of a patient that has been living with a ruptured brain aneurysm for over a decade. He was diagnosed with the disease at age 51, and one day, while at work, his brain aneurysm ruptured.

Before that day, he had frequent stomach aches, and his vision had decayed horribly. Jasmine recalls, "One day, he went to work, but he didn't come back. They told me it was a brain aneurysm, and he only had days to weeks to live. This was a complete shock for us. No one in his family had a ruptured aneurysm before."

"Our lives have changed drastically since his aneurysm rupture, so much so that I reference times in my life based on whether they were before or after his aneurysm." Jasmine started caring for her husband, who is now bedridden with paralysis. He is fed with a peg tube and cannot breathe by himself. A tracheal ventilator at home feeds him the oxygen necessary for his survival.

Initially, they would go to the hospital whenever any readings went wrong, but eventually, Jasmine decided that her husband was more comfortable at home. "Most of the time, there is not much to be done except keep him free from infections. I know he's more comfortable at home, where I can take care of him."

Life After the Rupture

Jasmine admits that she will never fully overcome this challenge in her life. Before this newfound struggle, Jasmine had been facing health problems of her own. "As time went on, I started having health problems too, such as high blood sugar and chronic migraines. I also believe that I have depression. If it's this bad for me, I can't imagine what my husband is going through."