Jennifer Bliss Jennifer Bliss

First post: Dec 26, 2019 Latest post: Oct 13, 2020
Jennifer had a really bad headache, started vomiting, and couldn’t move her neck on Christmas Eve night. She was admitted to ER in Park Rapids, who  found the subarachnoid hemorrhage through a CT scan and sent her to Sanford in Fargo. A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when you have an aneurism (outpocket sac of the blood vessel) that ruptures and causes blood to flow into the brain and mix with the cerebral spinal fluid. Shortly after arriving, the same aneurism ruptured again, but larger and more serious because she fell unconscious (5% chance to live). Fortunately, the neurosurgeon was on his way and performed emergency endovascular embolization (Surgery where they use a catheter to go up a vessel in her groin to coil off the aneurism using platinum and gel) on her.  The surgery went well except for a blood clot that was left (removing it was higher risk than it was to leave it). The blood clot led to a stroke on the right side of her brain, which indicated there may be weakness in her left hand.  Over time, her brain kept swelling and the doctors continued giving her more and more medicine until they decided it was best to do a unilateral decompression craniectomy where they remove part of her skull in order for her brain to have room to swell up.  This surgery went well also. After the surgery her brain swelling used that extra space but eventually went down in a couple days. Just as the medical team were getting her swelling under control she started to have severe vasospasms in all three of her major blood vessels in her brain, which means they were very narrow and blood was flowing through them very rapidly. If these get bad enough they can cause a stroke. So they did a cerebral angiogram (basically a procedure where they see what her brain is like from the inside). During this they put medicine in her brain to relax the vessels and allow them to widen, and they were bad enough vasospasms that they used a balloon to inflate inside the blood vessels to get them back to a normal size and control the spasming. They had to do this again and the second time it was so bad that they did the major vessels and multiple smaller vessels as well. They did an MRI and said there were strokes that affected 60-70% of her right side and 10% of her left, which is the areas that supply blood to both legs and left arm. She formed a blood clot despite being on maximum blood thinners in her arm so they had the vascular surgeon do a surgery to save her arm.  About 24 hours later they did another angioplasty to fix the vasospasms, which was fortunately the last time they had to do this. After a few days of being off the coma medication her heart rate, respiration rate, and temperature went up so they had to put her back on sedation and pain medications to calm her down. Over time she was able to recover and they slowly took her off medications and began doing breathing trials.  She started opening her eyes, moving face, and wiggling toes. On the 16th of January, she was moved from the ICU to Intermediate care. On January 20th, she was transferred to long term acute care in the cities to recover. Here she had been opening her eyes more and slowly increasing the duration of her breathing trials every day. She battled pneumonia, so they had her on antibiotics and they were effective. She began to track with her eyes and  act like she was trying to talk. They moved her to a chair for two-hour durations. She developed a uterine tract infection followed by a resistant infection called VRE and was transferred to North Memorial emergency room to determine if she would need surgery. She had a few procedures to remove the infection that came from the feeding tube.  She stayed in North Memorial for some time and then was transferred back to Regency in order to receive treatment for the VRE infection.  At this point in time, she was able to talk and communicate with us when both parties show a little patience. She stands with assistance for five minutes at a time.  She stayed in Regency on the aggressive antibiotic until April 13th. COVID19 made us unable to visit her during these last few weeks at Regency, so we had many phone calls with her.  On April 21st, she was able to have the bone flap put back in at Sanford in Fargo. On September 3rd, she finally had the feeding tube removed.  She currently resides in Benedictine Care Community in Ada, as she is unable to move her left arm or leg. We hope to find a way to have her come home soon. During her stay in the hospital, she lost 100 pounds and has put some back on as she gains her muscles back. She continues to be more and more herself each day. We can’t say thank you enough to everyone for the continued well wishes, prayers, thoughts, love, and support through this difficult time. Jen still has a long road ahead of her and we will be with her every step of the way.