Click For Hope

An Aneurysm Brought Me To My Knees

Aneurysm, Family, ClickforhopeJasmine Lopez3 Comments
“There came a point when I had to decide: will I let this break me or will I let this grow me? And if I'm honest, it had to break me first in order to grow me. But today? Today I survive on faith.” -Alice

 

I can do this.

I say this to myself at least five times a day. When I’m out swimming, biking, or running- training for Ironman Wisconsin, I say it about every ten minutes. 

I can do this

Let me backtrack...towards the end of 2015, while at home with my two girls, I lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. After months of tests and doctors’ visits, I was told that I had at least two different issues – possible partial seizures and an incidental finding of a right PCA brain aneurysm. What this means: about four days out of every month, I feel faint. I feel faint standing from sitting. I feel faint standing from laying. I feel faint just standing.

My doctors don’t really know what this means since every test except the MRI has come back normal. All I know is, I had an episode that left me unconscious with my then almost three year old standing over me and my six month old screaming after being dropped from my arms. This moment is seared into my brain – and it terrifies me. 

The MRI showed a small ballooning of an artery in my brain directly behind my right eye. The finding of this aneurysm brought me to my knees. For the first time in my life, I couldn't (and still can't) fix the problem. I can’t just keep my head down and power through. I can’t run through the pain. There aren’t studies to read about thirty something year old active and otherwise healthy Chinese females developing brain aneurysms either.  So, at this point, we are playing the "wait and see" game.

To help prevent the aneurysm from rupturing or leaking, I was told to avoid activities that raise my blood pressure. What does that mean? Doesn’t the simple act of living life equate to the rise and fall of pressure?

 And yet, I am training for the Ironman Wisconsin.

Yes, there are obstacles.  Swimming, biking, and running don’t come naturally to me. My body hasn't always been able to go the distance. I’m not fast. I’m not particularly strong. I have terrible knees and joints that seem to add to my pain list with each season of training. But I do all of this because I can. I do all of this because I enjoy setting goals, reaching them, and seeing my progress. 

I can do this. 

Since having kids, my inclination towards setting these physical goals has grown; I want my daughters to know they can accomplish anything they set their beautiful minds to. I want them to see the work I put in, the failed attempts, the pain, and the celebrations of getting there.

With this diagnosis, I have oscillated between hiding and fighting. There are days I am frozen with fear that I will leave my children motherless; leave my best friend and husband a widower. These are the days when I want to stay in bed, I want to stay quiet, I want to watch my girls play and memorize every detail about them. These are the days I want to close my eyes and only see and hear my three favorite people. But then I remember that this life, these loves, they are all gifts from above. And to hide is to squander all that I have been given. 

I can do this.

While I have a deep fear of my aneurysm rupturing and drowning during open water swims, I am doing it. Because my purpose on this earth is to be the best wife, best mom, and best person I can be. And to do that, I need to live. I need to set goals and work towards them. I need to fail. I need to pick myself up. And I need those finish lines. So on September 11, 2016, I will be swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles for my partner and best friend in life, my girls, and myself. Because I can do all things through Christ.  

I can do this.

How has your story shaped who you are today?: My circumstances have forced me to grow in my faith. There came a point when I had to decide: will I let this break me or will I let this grow me? And if I'm honest, it had to break me first in order to grow me. But today? Today I survive on faith.

Why were you compelled to share your story?:  I hope my story inspires my daughters. I hope one day, my story will teach them perseverance, strength, and endurance. I hope they will know I lived my life because of my deep love for our family. And along the way, I hope it touches others to do more and be more.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: We are all braver than we believe and stronger than we think. And despite our situations and circumstances, it takes grit, guts, hard work, and faith to go after our goals. So go after them.