This holiday is especially meaningful for Alison Youpa, 32, of Nazareth, because she almost wasn’t here to celebrate it with her husband and toddler.
Six months ago, Alison experienced a life-threatening brain aneurysm, or a bursting of a blood vessel in the brain. By anyone’s account, something like that should not have happened to Alison, a young, healthy, active mom.
But it did, and she credits her expert medical care team at St. Luke’s University Health Network for giving her a chance to celebrate with her husband her daughter’s second Christmas.
Alison says the day of her brain aneurysm started off so unremarkable that she really doesn’t recall what she was doing. That night, with her 16-month old daughter fast asleep and her husband hosting a card game with friends in the detached garage, Alison was chatting with a friend on the phone, when she felt a sharp, throbbing pain in her head and neck that seemed to go from zero to 60 in seconds. She abruptly hung up the phone and laid on the floor, fists clenched like claws. Somehow, she was able to dial her husband who ran in from the garage.
When the paramedics arrived, they immediately tested her blood, thinking her symptoms might easily be explained by low blood sugar, but the test was normal. It was on the ride to the hospital, that one of the paramedics started to suspect something was wrong in Alison’s brain. As soon as the doors swung open at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus’s emergency department, the perceptive paramedic told the ER staff to scan her immediately.
Alison was then transferred to the care of neurosurgeon, Evan Marlin, MD and his team of specialists at St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem. Dr. Marlin explained to Alison and her husband that a ruptured aneurysm is a very big deal, requiring life-saving surgery, but based on the angiogram taken prior to surgery, Dr. Marlin felt a craniotomy would allow him to repair the vessel and save Alison’s life.
Today, Allison is back to working part-time from home as a medical records processing assigner and taking classes to earn a second bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Looking back, Alison credits a number of people for her successful outcome - the paramedic who brought her to the ER, the caring, compassionate nurses in ICU, the physical therapists who helped her regain her stamina and balance, and of course, Dr. Marlin and his team who performed the surgery and continue to care for her.
“I had a lot of angels that day and a lot of things went my way, and for that I’ll always be grateful,” Allison says.