One Patient's Remarkable Recovery from a Ruptured Cerebral
This article originally appeared in Be Well, a health information
newsletter published for members of the Greater Marlborough community.
On the morning of January 22, 2010 the day after her 45th birthday - Tracey
Brooks collapsed and lost consciousness in her Southborough home."Five minutes
later and I would have left for the office," recalled her husband Richard. Those
five minutes and the extraordinary sequence of events that followed saved
Tracey's life. Richard called 911 and the Southborough emergency response team
arrived within minutes, quickly transporting her to Marlborough Hospital.
There, Emergency Department physician Bryan Cheshire, MD, rushed Tracey in
for a CT scan without transferring her from the ambulance gurney. The scan
revealed massive bleeding in her brain from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm (a
bulge in an artery in her head that had burst). As Richard later learned, close
to 70 percent of people who suffer this type of hemorrhage do not survive.
Dr. Cheshire intubated Tracey to help her breathe and administered several
medications to slow the bleeding. He then called to activate the UMass Memorial
Medical Center advanced care team, beginning with mobilizing the Life Flight air
ambulance to transport Tracey to Worcester. Once there, Ajay Wakhloo, MD, and
Eddie Kwan, MD, neurointerventionalists, were standing by to perform a
specialized procedure called endovascular coiling, in which soft metal coils are
inserted through a blood vessel to the site of the aneurysm where they fill the
rupture and stop the bleeding.
Tracey spent the next four weeks in the intensive care unit, fighting for her
life. When she at last came to, she began a grueling rehabilitation process to
learn how to read, write, speak, eat, dress, wash, walk and talk - and recognize
Richard - all over again.
Defying the odds, she not only survived but today is doing amazingly
well."Tracey's progress is nothing short of miraculous!" Richard said proudly,
noting that Tracey drives herself to occupational and speech therapy sessions as
well as to the gym, does grocery shopping and walks their three black labrador
retrievers."Every day is closer to normal," she said, happy to be regaining
control of her life. The Brookses are immensely grateful for the care Tracey
received at every step of her journey. "Marlborough Hospital's role in Tracey's
survival was vital, critical,fundamental," Richard said. "If anything they did
there didn't happen the way it did, she would have died. In fact, the reason so
many people die from ruptured aneurysms is because people don't do what Dr.
Cheshire did. "We have a lot to be thankful for," he added. "We've been
the best gift of all - a bright future together."