Brenda Smith | CaringBridge

Brenda Smith

First post: 12/13/2016 Latest post: 12/17/2016
On Thursday December 8th, after taking Morgan to her driver's test and preparing to take her out to her birthday dinner, Brenda was quickly overcome by a terrible headache and dizziness. She started to stumble and ended up on the couch but was unable to stand or pull her body upright. After a few minutes, she became very disoriented and slurring "my head hurts right here" numerous times. Morgan quickly realized the gravity of the situation and called 911 and the ambulance arrived within minutes. They immediately identified it as a potential stroke and she was rushed to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA. Luckily, this hospital is one of the premier stroke centers with an amazing neurological program and she was instantly receiving the best care possible. A CT Scan showed a significant bleed towards the back center part of her brain and she was taken back to have a procedure that would relieve some of the intracranial pressure (ICP). They drilled two holes into the right side of her brain and inserted two catheters to drain the excess fluid and monitor her brain pressure (which was extremely high when she was admitted). The procedure and subsequent scans revealed a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is a rare and complicated brain aneurysm. The aneurysm was surrounded by a hematoma, which was her body's attempt to contain the bleeding. On Friday, the neurosurgeon, Dr. Chiedozie Nwagwu, decided that the best course of action was to perform an angiogram and coil the aneurysm, an operation in which they navigate from her femoral artery into her brain by way of blood vessels and clot the bleed in the aneurysm with a microscopic platinum coil. The hope was that this would stop the bleeding and the hematoma surrounding it would eventually be taken care of organically by her body. It was a complicated procedure that lasted around 4 hours but they were able to successfully stop the bleed. As of Saturday, the pressure in her brain was rising steadily and they were unable to control it with the medication they were giving. They continued to monitor and make every non-surgical attempt to keep her ICP lowered. On Sunday, they doctors advised us that her numbers had reached critical levels and that they were going to begin a hypothermic treatment in which they lowered her core body temperature to 35 Celsius in an attempt to slow her metabolism and give her brain a chance to slow the swelling itself. On Monday morning, the doctors performed another CT Scan and discovered that Mom had an additional stroke in the lower left portion of her brain, the area that affects speech and language. This secondary stroke and the bleeding that followed seriously derailed efforts to contain the swelling and it was decided that she would immediately have a craniectomy, in which a portion of her skull about the size of a playing card would be removed to give her brain additional room to swell without pushing against the walls and further damaging the brain tissue. She made it out of that surgery successfully but unfortunately it had little effect on the ICP and level of swelling in her brain. She has been induced in a coma since we first arrived at the hospital and they have kept her sedated this entire time. They remain highly concerned about the level of swelling and have run out of medical and surgical interventions to control it. Unfortunately, our only option at this point is to wait and pray for a miracle to bring down the pressure.


Shaun, Alissa, Lauren, Ryan, Shannon, Morgan and Maddie, Cammie & Robyn have been by her side since the very beginning. She is surrounded with love and we're trying to stay positive and help her fight this fight. She is a strong woman and we're all praying for a miracle recovery. 

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