On Wednesday February 25th I was out of town with my wife, Kelly, and experienced an overwhelming pain in my head that sent an unbearable sensation down my neck, into my jaw, and hurt my eyes. This incredibly painful feeling caused me to drop into the nearest chair that I could find. My wife, showing great concern, offered to call an ambulance or take me to the hospital. As usual, I responded by telling her to just give me some Advil and I will be fine.
After two nights of no sleep and a constant headache Kelly contacted Dr. Peter Cognetti’s, M.D. office. Fortunately, someone canceled and Dr. Cognetti saw me on Friday February 27th at 1 p.m. When meeting my doctor and explaining my symptoms, Dr. Cognetti made a “life saving” evaluation and ordered an immediate CAT scan. Shortly after the scan, Dr. Cognetti called me with the most difficult news of my life. He informed me that I had a problem with my brain and the outlook is potentially grim. He told me to contact my family and immediately go to the emergency room where two doctors would be standing by to meet me and discuss my options. My wife and I arrived at the emergency room simultaneously. The two doctors standing by explained that it was highly likely that I would die or stroke and there would be no saying how severe of a stroke it would be. The doctors also informed me that neither they nor anyone in Scranton could deal with my issue and I immediately needed to figure out where they could Life Flight me. To say the least, this news was devastating and gut wrenching. Kelly and I were floored. However, it has always been my stance to remain focused and positive to the best of my abilities.
After informing my family, we consulted and decided to go to Geisinger Hospital in Danville, Pa. Following a twenty-two minute Life Flight to Danville I arrived at the ICU with a variety of nurses, although kind and sympathetic, whom were focused on the ultimate task to stabilize me. It was during that flight and while being stabilized that all I could think about was my family. Are they going to be OK? Who would take care of them? How will they pay the bills? And the questions without answers just went on and on in my mind…
Once stable the plan was to have surgery on Saturday morning. My odds of survival were once again explained and again statistics were against me. I remained positive with my family and hoped for the best. Saturday afternoon I was made aware that the procedure was unsuccessful and I would need another surgery on Monday. I was introduced to a different surgeon, Dr. Tarun Bhalla, M.D. He had a lengthy conversation with me not only explaining the procedure but also explaining the hard facts that I ultimately had roughly a 15% survival rate. Remember this is the person I am putting ALL of my faith and trust in with the idea that I am going to be in the 15%. Towards the end of my brief meeting with Dr. Bhalla I told him I believe in him and I am ready and confident that I will get his best and give him my best.
Although I spent Sunday mentally preparing myself for the situation ahead, I could not let a “brain aneurysm” dictate to me how I would die. I needed to take control of the moment and leave on my terms. I wanted to be at peace my way. I did not want a horrific disease to strip me of my love of life and family. Therefore I spent most of Sunday planning my funeral with my family. It was the most difficult day of my life. To say “I love you” and “Goodbye” at forty-four years old is not easy. Needless to say, I wanted certain things done my way so there would be no doubt about my love for my wife, my children, my family, and my friends. I had to choose my priest, my church, and my cemetery. A “brain aneurysm” was not going to take these thoughts, hopes and dreams away from me.
After getting through this grueling Sunday, I was at peace, I was prepared, and I was focused. Or as I would tell my children, “I was in the zone.” I was going to fight this issue with everything in me to continue to live life.
Monday March 2nd came and it was my time to go into surgery. My surgeon Dr. Bhalla and the team of surgeons “saved my life.” He performed a successful coiling method of a ruptured aneurysm to stop the bleeding. I was not in the waiting room with my family but I am sure they were relieved and rejoicing. I was never one to follow medical statistics because I believe everyone is different, but, I beat the odds. I was going to have the ability to leave the hospital both neurologically and physically sound. It was a miracle and I am forever grateful to everyone who had a part in the process.
Since that surgery I went through another procedure on Wednesday March 4th and I will need to have three more procedures over the next two years. I am considered “not out of the woods yet” but I am living and thankful to be here.
The Tim Langan Brain Aneurysm Foundation was developed to give back to an area that is in desperate need of more focus. Each year, there are about 500,000 deaths worldwide caused by brain aneurysms, these families are gravely impacted with the loss of loved ones and the lack of resources available to potentially save these lives. This does not have to be the case.
My efforts are to bring more awareness to the community and to raise funds to help support the brain aneurysm health care professionals. Our task is to provide financial support in the pursuit of increasing more positive results to the patients in this critical, life threatening state.
In years to come, I want to live in a world where more lives are saved due to quality education, by advancing materials, and making more facilities available. No one should die due to a lack of resources.