Michele Blum is an actress who lives to be on the stage. But when multiple aneurysms left her in a coma, Michele’s future was far from certain. That’s when Dr. Reza Karimi of New Jersey Brain and Spine entered the stage and found the one path recovery.
Michele Blum | Patient Testimonial | Surviving Multiple Aneurysms
I am an actress in community theater. I’ve been acting my whole life. I have done some theater in New York.
I would describe her as one of the most vibrant, extroverted people you’ll meet. She’s animated, she’s emotional…. she’s one of those people that walk into the room and there’s this energy that comes with her
I’ve always been acting since I was a little girl, so I’ve always been a drama queen.
But in 2012, a different kind of drama brought these two together.
Michele was admitted to the emergency room after suffering a bleed in her brain, a pretty severe bleed.
And the bleeding was around the surface of the brain, underneath the brain and in the substance, the ventricles of the brain.
They took me to the ICU in Hackensack where I stayed for the next eight weeks, seven of which I was in a coma.
And ultimately what we discovered is she has four separate brain aneurysms. Any time a person suffers a ruptured brain aneurysm it’s a matter of life and death.
Doctor Karimi quickly determined there was only one way to save Michele’s life.
Once we got a full picture of what was going on with the arteries of her brain and we documented and analyzed each of her brain aneurysms, we made the decision that the only way to treat her was with surgery. And it wasn’t going to be an easy surgery. Brain aneurysm surgery is always difficult and very nuanced microsurgery. You’re dealing with the most sensitive area of the body where a millimeter in one direction or another can mean the difference between life and death or a good outcome versus a very bad outcome.
In this particular case this is the most complex type of aneurysm surgery because we had to reconstruct several of her arteries using microsurgery. And that’s while you’re dealing with a very swollen brain and bleeding from the aneurysm, and that makes it even more difficult.
Despite the complexity and the risk, the surgery was successful.
After the surgery we were happy. Technically, the surgery went off without a hitch, it was very difficult, it was six hours long – four hours of time under the microscope – we reconstructed two aneurysms and were also able to completely reconstruct her carotid artery, internally. That is a daunting task, but we were successful in doing that.
However Michele’s ordeal was far from over. The extent of the initial bleed caused her to suffer severe vasospasm — contractions of arteries in her brain that could hinder blood flow and trigger a stroke.
In order to treat her vasospasm, none of the traditional methods were working, and we had to do something called intra-cranial angioplasty. That’s a procedure where we open up the blood vessels in order to prevent a stroke. In her particular case we had to perform that six times to keep her blood vessels open and prevent her from having a stroke.
She was in a coma for a while.
Her fate was still uncertain. And although Michele was unconscious, her family was painfully aware of the peril she was in.
It was worse for them because I was in a coma. Jenny told my husband, “Mommy needs to know what happened to her while she was here.” So she started a journal.
“Four-oh-eight p.m. Hi, My most beautiful mom. Today was a really good day. After four or five days of being lethargic, you finally started to come around…”
And Jenny told me that when my husband would come home from the hospital at night, he’d get into our bed and he would cry… because he didn’t know if I was coming home or not. “I never want to leave, I miss you when I’m not here.”
There’s no doubt the support of her family helped her recovery. Michele later learned what another patient told her husband while she was still in a coma.
And he said to my husband, “your wife and your daughter have the most beautiful relationship. She comes every night and she sings to her.” My baby. And when I got out of the coma my husband told me and I told Jenny, my daughter. And she said, “Well, yeah. I wanted you to know somebody was there.” I’m very lucky.
And Michele also knows it wasn’t just her family looking out for her.
One day he walked into my room and Dr. Karimi was sitting there by my bed with his face in his hands. And my husband said to him, “Dr. Karimi, I know you care about all your patients but I feel that with Michele, it’s personal.” He said, “It is.” And that’s the way he made me feel, that I was like a part of his family.
My family knows her because I speak about her when I go home.
He cares…. And you feel that. He’s my angel. Forever I will be indebted to him.
“But the greatest was when Dr. Karimi asked you to open your eyes, and you did. And you gave him a huge smile. He told you you have a beautiful smile – which you do – and I told you I love you. And you said, mouthed,” I love you too.” That made everything right with the world.
They, um, didn’t think I was going to make it and they told my family they had to be prepared, because they didn’t think I was going to make it.
But they didn’t know Dr. Karimi
Contact New Jersey Brain and Spine
We hope Michele Blum’s story touched you as much as it did us and Dr. Karimi. If you would like to get a second opinion or need a consultation, contact us using our website form, email us at [email protected], or call at 201-342-2550.