On Saturday, June 24, 2017, Jennifer suffered a ruptured aneurysm of the left internal carotid artery. The aneurysm was massive and deep inside the brain, almost exactly in the center. She was rushed to the hospital with her family by her side and was placed in the Intensive Care Unit where she remains to date. A drain tube was immediately inserted to begin removing the fluid from around Jennifer’s brain and within 24 hours she underwent an endovascular coiling procedure to prevent rebleed of the aneurysm. Thanks to the Lord and Jenn’s incredible team of neurosurgeons, the procedure was a success! This would be the first of many hurdles to overcome, but a definite victory for Jennifer.
The following day, she underwent an angiogram and MRI of the brain to further assess her condition and was found to have had several strokes on the left side. As a result of the strokes, she had no movement on the right side of her body and likely suffered blindness in the right eye. She also suffered severe damage to her other systems, including her heart, kidneys, and lungs. The ICU team continued to monitor her neurological function every hour.
By Tuesday, Jenn’s brain continued to swell as a result of the trauma of the ruptured aneurysm, causing her intracranial pressure (ICP), the pressure inside the skull and brain tissue, to spike. Her ICP continued to remain high throughout the night. On Wednesday morning, Jenn underwent an emergent decompressive craniectomy, where doctors temporarily removed a portion of her skull to accomplish the goal of reducing the intracranial pressure and preventing further damage to her brain and other organs. Thankfully, her postop CT confirmed success of the procedure and her ICP remained well within the normal range throughout the following day and night! We thanked God for a restful, uneventful night for Jennifer and a much-needed reprieve after the traumatic events of the previous day.
Over the next several days, Jenn’s heart, lungs, and kidneys continued to show signs of improvement. Her ICP remained stable, which allowed her body much-needed rest and the brain to begin the healing process. Her neurological evaluations remained consistent. However, her team of doctors warned that the next greatest battle would be vasospasms of the blood vessels around the brain, which typically begin to occur seven days after the aneurysm rupture. Vasospasms are the result of the presence of blood of the ruptured aneurysm that fills the crevices of the brain.
As predicted, the vasospasms began over the weekend and on Monday, July 3rd, doctors performed an angiogram to confirm severe vasospasms in multiple areas of the brain. They immediately performed an angioplasty procedure to open the constricted vessels. Thankfully, the procedure succeeded in opening the blood flow to the main vessels. It has been wait and see since that time to know if any additional brain and systems damage occurred.
Jennifer will remain in this critical state and at incredibly high risk for vasospasm and stroke until day 21 following the initial aneurysm rupture.
Over the course of the first week, Jennifer developed several infections, which are presently being treated with strong antibiotics. She also struggles with continued elevated fevers that occur when the body reacts to the trauma of a brain injury as well as the infections.
Jennifer has been on a ventilator since her first day in the hospital and while her doctors were hoping she would be able to be weaned from the ventilator by now, that has not been possible to date. As a result, she underwent a tracheostomy and bronchoscopy on Friday, July 7th, which she tolerated well. Doctors will also insert a feeding tube into the stomach within the next few days, which will enable them to remove her NG tube and continue nutrition. The tracheostomy and feeding tube are reversible and we hope needed for only a short time as she continues to recover.
Jennifer has overcome many obstacles during the first two weeks of her traumatic injury. She has had some great improvements and has also seen several setbacks. She has a very long road to recovery ahead as well. But, Jennifer is an incredible individual, she is strong, and she continues to fight hard! We know that she can and will overcome this situation.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to Jennifer’s loving family and friends for your prayers, love, and support during this extremely difficult time. We are overwhelmed and our hearts deeply touched by the outpouring of love from so many! Prayer is the single most important gift you can give to Jennifer at this time and we humbly ask for your continued prayers. She desperately needs every single one! Due to her extreme critical condition, infections, and heightened risk for other severe complications, we ask that you continue to honor the doctors’ requests for no visitors until her condition stabilizes.
A member of Jennifer’s family has been present with her every moment since her situation began and we will be right by her side throughout her recovery. The past several days of watching someone we love so very much suffer through this trauma has been deeply emotional and painful to say the least. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we have worked through many uncertain and frightening days. We will do our best to add updates on Jennifer’s progress often.
Jennifer is her children’s rock and strength, her Daddy’s baby girl, and her Momma’s heartbeat. She is loving, dependable, and loyal to every member of her family. She is a faithful friend.
We continue to trust the Lord to be with Jennifer throughout her illness and recovery and we find strength in His Word:
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10