Dedre’s Most Treasured Birthday Present: More Time with Her Family
Last year, Dedre Robinson lost 30 pounds, worked out 5 days a week and was in great shape. She was a healthy and active 48-year-old who had a routine physical just two months before her family's worst nightmare. A wife and mother from Cerritos, she and her husband had left their three kids with a nephew for the night to attend the wedding of her husband’s fraternity brother. During the dinner reception, the bride and groom surprised their friends and family by serenading one another on the dance floor. Documenting the moment, Dedre began moving to the other side of the dance floor to get a better view for her camera. "The last thing I remember thinking was 'Oh, I want another angle!'" she says.
Dedre suddenly collapsed in the middle of the dance floor. Her breathing quickened, and then slowed to a frightening rate before losing consciousness. Dedre was soon taken to Long Beach Memorial, where she was diagnosed with a ruptured brain aneurysm just one day after her birthday.
Although she didn't experience any of the common precursors on the day she suffered her aneurysm, Dedre woke up in the middle of the night one week before the incident screaming from extreme pain in her head, face and neck. Though her husband wanted to call 911, Dedre didn’t want to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night. She chose to wait until the following morning to visit a local Emergency Room. After a CT scan, nothing out of the ordinary was found and Dedre was released, assuming she was fine.
By the time she reached Long Beach Memorial on the night of May 25, 2012, she was comatose and unresponsive. Waking up in a hospital bed following major surgery, Dedre felt confused and couldn’t remember what had brought her there. She wrote the word "Bike?" on a piece of paper to ask her sister, thinking that she may have been injured riding a bike through her neighborhood. Forgetting events surrounding a hemorrhaging brain aneurysm is one of the many side effects of the short-term memory loss commonly experienced by the few patients who survive this head trauma.
The Division of Interventional Neuroradiology (DINR) program of the MemorialCare Neuroscience Institute at Long Beach Memorial treated Dedre’s ruptured aneurysm with an endovascular technique called coil embolization, a treatment pioneered by the DINR team. This minimally invasive procedure—to prevent blood flow in Dedre’s aneurysm—required a tiny puncture in an artery of the leg. Through this, a small microcatheter is placed into the brain aneurysm with X-ray guidance. Once in place, soft platinum coils released into position within the aneurysm. Eventually, a blood clot will form on the coils, blocking the abnormal blood flow surrounding each coil and forming a permanent seal.
Endovascular operations, such as coil embolization, allow the specialized physicians to treat aneurysms with a minimally invasive approach, resulting in shorter hospital stays, reduced recovery times and decreased procedural risks for patients.
The DINR program offers hope for patients like Dedre through the use of a multi-disciplinary team—including stroke neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional neuroradiologists and neuroradiologists. She couldn't agree more, saying "Partnerships like DINR line up to save someone like me." After 19 days in the hospital, Dedre returned home with functioning eye sight, speech and motor skills, something not many brain aneurysm survivors can say. A privilege she attributes to being in the "right place, with the right doctors" Dedre says.
With an impressive community of loved ones around her, Dedre's friends and neighbors fed her family the entire time she was in the hospital. Various family members took shifts, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to be by her side throughout her surgeries and therapy before she was released. Dedre also found a network of care following her surgery and stay at Long Beach Memorial, remembering that "people who weren't even overseeing my care would come to check on me" she says.
During her first few days home, Dedre slept for 12 hours a day while her brain recuperated. Around the third week of her release, she was able to walk around outside without the assistance of a walker. Dedre’s friends and family aided her progress by taking time to walk with her a little each day around their neighborhood. Not soon after, she drove around the block for the first time without any dizziness. With the help of physical therapy, a slow and healthy recovery pace and an unparalleled determination, Dedre's most recent accomplishment is the completion of a BeachBody core workout DVD. Of her progress and support systems, both inside and out of Long Beach Memorial, Dedre feels, "Recovery was amazing."
For sufferers of brain aneurysms, when survival is not guaranteed, time is of the essence. After experiencing "a condition in which half the patients die," Sachin Rastogi, MD, Division of Interventional Neuroradiology, Long Beach Memorial, says "Dedre showed tremendous determination and motivation to recover from this devastating injury. She has made a very good and speedy recovery."
Dedre still makes time for daily exercise as a way to continue regaining her life and health in honor of the program and surgeons who saved her.