Alana Subleski was 25 when she suffered a ruptured aneurysm while working at the gym

Brain Aneurysm - Alana Subleski suffered a ruptured aneurysm

Her parents, out of town, were told they may not make it home in time to see their daughter alive again.

It started off a normal day. Sunday. I ate breakfast, took my dog to the groomers and returned a movie I rented the night before. I’d woken up with a headache, but that wasn’t unusual. I didn’t think anything of it.

Later that day, I went to the gym — I’m a big advocate of working out. I had just gotten off the treadmill when I felt funny. It’s hard to explain. I saw a flash: pink and yellow went by me. My whole left side went numb.

Stroke Patient Jason and Dr. Alaraj
Alana Subleski 

One of the managers walked by, and I managed to say, “Help me.” He called for a nurse who was there working out. She asked me questions. I just wanted to get up and get going again, but nothing on my left side was working. Then, I passed out.

When I woke up, it was two weeks later. My parents said I was trying to get up like I could just walk out. That’s the fighter in me.

They told me that I had suffered a ruptured aneurysm. I had been life-flighted to the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System where Dr. Amin-Hanjani performed emergency brain surgery. During surgery, she found four more unruptured aneurysms that she coiled, a procedure that blocks the aneurysm from circulation and effectively destroys it.

That was a year ago. My family has been by my side every minute making sure I was going to get through this. We all have tattoos that have a symbol for brain aneurysm.

It’s going to take some time, but I’ve come a long way. When I first woke up from my coma, I didn’t remember anything. I couldn’t count to 10 or say the alphabet. My fiancé had to re-teach me colors with peanut butter M&Ms.

My hips and knees are still weak, but I’m determined to run again. Ideally, I’ll get my hand back so I can write again. I miss my job as a development coordinator for hospice, and I want to go back to it because it’s my passion in life to give to others. Also, I want to have kids one day.

Every day is not a great day. I still have bad days. But I refuse to give up. This will not define me...That's what keeps me going.

I owe my life to Dr. Amin-Hanjani. If she wasn’t on call that night, I don’t know if I’d be alive right now. Words can’t describe how thankful I am — every day is a gift.