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Sunday, November 12, 2006


On Tuesday, November 7, shortly after noon, my Mom suffered a burst brain aneurysm. The bleeding in her brain caused her to have a stroke. She temporarily lost most of her ability to speak, and began to lose use of her limbs. She was taken to the hospital, where she was shortly flown by helicoptor to a hospital in Roseville (about an hour and fifteen minutes from our home in Northern California). She has been in the Trauma Neuro Intensive Care Unit since Tuesday evening. She has undergone two surgeries - one to insert a temporary drain for the blood and fluid beneath her skull putting pressure on her brain, and another more extensive procedure to find and repair the burst vessel. She has been in a coma since Tuesday night. Today she is finally beginning to wake up, but it's a slow process.

When I heard my Dad's voice on my voicemail telling me briefly: "Mom's in the hospital, and she's going in for surgery," I could tell from his voice that it was very serious. I attempted to call him back immediately, but he wasn't picking up his cell phone. I tried calling my sister, but she wasn't home. Finally I reached my brother Jonathan, who was able to tell me the basic situation. Still unable to reach my Dad, I cried on the floor of my apartment. I was very worried, and not really knowing what was going on made it even harder. I looked up some information about brain aneurysms online, and I knew that my Mom's chances were less than 50%. Nathan, my fiance, came over quickly to be with me, which really helped. My friend Melissa came over too, and brought me a big teddy bear. They both stayed with me, praying lots and distracting me from the worry and the grim statistics, into the wee hours of the morning. I was waiting for Dad to give me permission to get on a plane and come home, as he had initially asked me to wait -- he was very shaken up, of course, and having a hard time making all the decisions he needed to make. When he called me at about 2:00 am EST, he asked me to come home. I packed my smallest suitcase and bought a one-way plane ticket online. Nathan sat with me while I slept for an hour or two, and then drove me to the airport to catch my flight to California. While I waited in the terminal, I made some phone calls to cancel the piano lessons and violin lessons I was supposed to teach in the next few days, as well as the babysitting jobs I had lined up. I spent six and a half hours on the first leg of my flight, unable to hear any new information by phone while I was in the air. After a layover in San Francisco, I arrived in Sacramento around 2:30. Melinda, a family friend, picked up Jonathan and me there and brought us to the hospital to see Mom. Dad was really glad to see us walk in. We got to see Mom right away. She's in the best hospital she could possibly be in, and her doctors and nurses are wonderful about letting us spend time with her, and answering all our questions. If we sanitize our hands and wear gloves, we can hold her hands and touch her to let her know we're with her.

Emily and her son Jonathan drove up from Southern California with my Aunt Susan, my Mom's sister. So, we're all here as a family, spending each day in the hospital lobby and taking turns seeing Mom.

Now, for the better news. Mom is doing really well, all things considered. A number of things contribute to her current condition being what it is, and we're really grateful for how God takes care of His children even when things are hard. First of all, my Dad had just returned from a business trip to Florida. We can't imagine much harder this would have been if Dad hadn't been here when this happened. As it was, Dad was able to be with Mom really soon after it happened, and sit with her in the hospital, which I'm sure provided her with a lot of comfort, as she was still conscious at that point. Secondly, Mom was already in town when the vessel burst. She was having lunch with a wonderful friend, who did all the right things. She got Mom to the car while she could still move, and drove her straight to the hospital. If Mom had been at our home with Christopher when this happened, it could have taken three to four times longer for her to get help -- we live quite a ways out of town, and Christopher doesn't drive yet. Then, while Mom was waiting for a bed to open up at one of the three hospitals that can deal with this kind of neuro trauma, the first hospital with an open bed was, we subsequently learned, the BEST place for Mom to be right now. Finally, Mom is a great candidate to make a full recovery from something like this. She is otherwise healthy and fit, very determined, and basically a tough nut to crack. We're all still in shock, because honestly, we kind of thought Mom was invincible.

Our family has been absolutely surrounded with the love and prayers of friends. It's been really amazing to see how much my Mom was loved. I always knew she was the best ever, but I didn't know that everyone else loved her, too! Our pastor and his wife have come to see us at the hospital, Lou and Melinda have been here, and Matt and Amber, along with Emma and Gregory, came up and spent a day here at the hospital with us. My Dad's general manager at his work happens to be an M.D., and he's been an invaluable resource to us for both information and encouragement. My Mom has given so much to so many in our community - particularly to the home schooling families in our county. All of these families are showing us such an outpouring of love and help. The phone calls, the offers to help, the meals... it's incredible. Most of all, we're grateful for the prayers.

Believe it or not, people have even offered us a HOUSE (and cleaned, furnished, and stocked it for us!), just about ten minutes away from the hospital. Using this house would let us be really near Mom while she needs us. The doctors are predicting a recovery that could take three to four more weeks in the hospital. Right now, we have to do a lot of waiting, which is really hard. We need to make decisions about our family, but it's hard to do that until we know more about Mom's projected recovery. Right now, it's looking like I will be staying in California indefinitely to help out with my Mom, my Dad, and my youngest brother. Mom is doing well, but recovery from this can take a long time.

That's all I can write right now, but I'll be checking in again with updates whenever I can. I'll be writing more soon. I may also start a separate blog to update her family and friends on her condition.

Prayers are appreciated, friends. Thank you.


  1. Thanks for writing this, Sarah, you did a good job of putting this summary together. I kept meaning to ask what happened at the beginning, but I never got a chance. That's really quite a blessing that she wasn't at home when it happened.

    It was great to see you all on Saturday, and my thoughts and prayers are with you all. Please let us know if there is *anything* we can to do help out.

  2. hi Sarah - we're praying down here, lots of us.


  3. Dear Sarah, I am praying for your mom and for you all during this tough time. May you be comforted by the Lord's presence even as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Please keep us updated.


  4. Anonymous9:02 PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all.