I Survived a Brain Aneurysm In My 30s

I Survived a Brain Aneurysm In My 30s

Ally Davis

Ally Davis is a bestselling author and entrepreneur. View profile

“An aneurysm is an enlargement of an artery caused by a weakness in the arterial wall. A brain aneurysm can leak or rupture causing bleeding into the brain and can be life-threatening (https://www.nhs.uk/).”  A brain aneurysm is also known as cerebral aneurysm.

8 months ago 

My writing was awful. It looked like a child’s scrawl. I was writing some notes out for my partner and he told me he couldn’t even read it and that he would do it himself. I remember being upset as I had always had good writing.  I couldn’t understand however hard I tried why my hand wouldn’t write neater.

We were going for lunch, my whole family including my aunt and uncle from France. It was a lovely lunch and great to catch up with everyone. After lunch, my sister rang me, she was worried about me as she thought my face had dropped on the one side. I hadn’t particularly noticed anything but thought it was maybe down to tiredness.

The following day I went to put my shoes on and fell over. I just fell like I had no control over my limbs! I am known to be a little clumsy, but I am not normally that bad. I felt a bit stupid that I just fell over like that, so I rang the doctor and quickly got seen that night. 

I had a brain aneurysm! 

After lots of scans and tests, I was diagnosed with a giant cerebral brain aneurysm and was admitted to the hospital. Nope, I couldn’t just have a normal size one, it had to be a giant one! You see, in my life so far, I never seem to do things simply! 

Apart from the weird feeling in my arm and feeling a little unbalanced, I felt totally fine, so staying at the hospital was hard. I couldn’t use my computer as wifi was awful and I was just stuck in a cubicle with a bed and no window! The first ward I was on was full of geriatric patients and I was the youngest on the ward. My family, friends and partner kept me entertained and every hour he was allowed, my partner was there by my side. 

Staying in the hospital

The first week I spent at Hereford Hospital, before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. It was only when I arrived here did I realize how serious my situation was. I was told that if the aneurysm was to rupture, I would die. Simple as that, there would be nothing they could do. 

At the time leading up to my operation, I didn’t really think about how serious my situation was. I felt pretty much fine so it was hard to wrap my head around this place I was in. From the 1st of December, the trajectory of my life and the things I had planned had all changed. 

The hardest part was seeing the pain on my family’s faces and the worry from my friends. I was the one going through it but seeing their worry was so hard. I couldn’t take that from them, apart from being as strong as I could. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I have had health problems and worried my family. I was told I had cancer at 29 (it wasn’t cancer in the end, but that is another story!)

Five hours! 

On the 11th of December (my beautiful little sister’s birthday)  I had a five-hour operation to stent and coil the aneurysm. They were able to perform the operation from going in at my groin rather than going in through my skull. I’m grateful I didn’t have to have entrance through my skull as the recovery at the groin was much quicker and I didn’t even have stitches! 

Before the operation, you have to sign a consent form.  There was a chance that I would come out of the operation with visual impairment, meaning I wouldn’t be able to drive again and that it would affect my life considerably. Also, obviously the usual risks of the operation. That upset me quite a lot because the thought of losing some of my sight was just unthinkable. My partner kept saying that you will be here, alive with sight differences and that is far better than not being here. I understood what he was saying, but at the time it upset me that I couldn’t control what would happen and I wouldn’t know how I would be until I woke up! 

Up to the moment before I went into the operating theatre, I had been so strong.  The only time I got upset was when I knew I was being admitted and couldn’t see my dog! Gosh, I missed him! But the few minutes before my operation, I was distraught! Saying goodbye to my Partner and Mum was so ridiculously hard. I didn’t think about not waking up, I knew I was going to wake up and see them again. I wasn’t scared about that but really scared about who I would be when I awoke. It is also horrible having to say goodbye to loved ones, watching them walk away while you go to the unknown. 

Just before they put me to sleep, I was trying so hard to think of wonderful things and stop crying. I didn’t want to wake up crying as I had heard that how you go to sleep under anesthetic is how you will wake up. I thought of the beach with my partner and dog and the family meal we had recently had. And I didn’t wake up crying (just cold)!

To now 

Eight months have passed and I am pleased to say I am here, doing my best to live life, cherish moments and make memories.  I, unfortunately, suffer from severe head pain most days, which they believe is another condition that unfortunately has gotten worse since my operation, but I’m trying to live with it. 

Therefore, if you are reading this, my advice would be to not ignore the symptoms. Any symptoms, even if you think you are being silly just get them checked. I am the lucky one because it got detected before it burst. Some people don’t get that opportunity. An aneurysm can have many symptoms, some similar to a stroke but if you aren’t sure about anything, get it checked. I felt fine, no headaches or blurred vision and if it wasn’t for my sister noticing my droop, I probably wouldn’t have called the doctors. 

Symptoms of a cerebral aneurysm are many, and they vary.  While this is not an extensive list, here are some symptoms you should look out for.

  • Headache
  • Changes in consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Facial pain
  • Visual symptoms
  • Imbalance
  • Focal neurologic complaints
  • Respiratory dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular instability
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)

The main point here is that if something doesn’t seem right, if something feels off, then you should urgently seek medical help.

Life is short! Yes, it is so damn short, so make the most of every single moment. Cherish the little things, laugh often, love hard and smile. And remember “when it rains you have to look for rainbows and when it’s dark look for the stars” – Oscar Wilde .


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  • I was so lucky! 
  • Brain aneurysms can affect anyone.
  • Look out for any warning signs and differences in your health.
  • Some symptoms don’t seem to be that serious.
  • Life is so short – make the most of every moment!

The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.  

The Post I Survived a Brain Aneurysm in my 30s appeared first on Womanly Inspiration.

Positive Vibes Only

Positive Vibes Only

Valerie Green

Valerie Green is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health and Wellness Coach.  View profile 

“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances over you”

Thinking positively isn’t necessarily all about walking around with a constant grin on your face, skipping through life expecting and believing that everything that happens is for the  best.  Nor is it about burying your head in the sand ignoring unpleasant situations.  Having a positive attitude is the ability to accept that there are always going to be challenges, but with the right mindset you are able to reframe any negative self-talk – the endless stream of thoughts and chatter running throughout your head. 


In this article we discover:

  • How our thoughts affect our brain health and wellbeing
  • How thinking positively creates resilience
  • How we can adopt a positive mindset


Brain Health

Positive thinking may help with traumas such as stroke, brain injury or tumours.  Negative emotions prevent your brain from seeing other options and choices available to you.  Having happy positive thoughts releases the neurotransmitter serotonin, also known as the happy chemical, inducing a sense of calm and focus, as well as decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.  Serotonin helps regulate your mood naturally.


Stress and Well-being

A positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, reducing inflammation on your body.  An optimistic person is better equipped to handle a disappointment by the ability to focus on what they are able to do in order to change the outcome.  Research suggests that positive people may lead healthier lifestyles as they wish to make better choices for their health. 


Improved Resilience

Rather than falling apart at the slightest hiccup, positive thinking can help you better face a crisis, disappointment or trauma, with strength and resolve increasing your ability to cope with problems.  Resilience is your mental ability to bounce back. 


How to Increase Positive Thinking

Smile – A study has shown that smiling reduces your heart rate and blood pressure.  Watch a funny movie.  Seek humor in everyday events. 

Reframe your situation – Accept you may not be able to control your current predicament, but you can control your response to it.  Try to find a way to put a positive spin on it.

Journal – Write a gratitude list before retiring for bed listing at least 3 things you are thankful and happy for that day.  The more positive value that you see in life, the happier you become.

Meditate – Research has revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not.  Close your eyes.  Focus on your breath and relax.  Be in the present moment.

Play – Make space in your calendar to pursue your hobbies or learn new skills that will bring you joy.

Surround yourself with positive people – Negative people  can drain your energy, possibly raising your stress levels.  Surround yourself with others who are positive and dependable.

Follow a healthy lifestyle – Fuel your body with a balance whole foods diet and take daily movement.  Be mindful of what books you read, tv and movies you watch.  It is important to feed your mind too. Eat well, move well and be well. 

Positive thinking is being realistic, having faith in your abilities and trying to make the most of a bad situation.   It’s looking for the upside and solutions.  If you want greater confidence and self-esteem, energy, focus, improved health and sleep, cultivate a positive belief system.  


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  • Having a positive attitude is the ability to accept that there are always going to be challenges
  • Positive thinking can help our brain health
  • A positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations
  • Positive thinking can help you better face a crisis, disappointment or trauma
  • You can increase your positive thinking by different methods including smiling, reframing your situation, journaling, meditation, play, following a healthy lifestyle, and surrounding yourself with positive people


    The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal, tax, investment, financial, medical or other advice.  Always seek the advice of a licensed professional regarding any questions you may have. 


    The Post Positive Vibes Only appeared first on Womanly Inspiration.  

    Probiotics Vs Prebiotics: What’s The Difference and What Do I Need To Do To Look After My Gut Health 

    Probiotics Vs Prebiotics: What’s The Difference and What Do I Need To Do To Look After My Gut Health 

    Rashmi Schramm MD

    Geraldine Sexton (BSc RD MINDI) is a Consultant Dietitian & Clinical Nutritionist who specializes in women’s health and nutrition. Her passion is to empower women to take control of their health and well-being.  View profile

    The gut microbiome is a vast ecosystem of microbes, such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and viruses. In recent years scientists have come to embrace the vital role that these microbes have in every function of the human body from fostering a robust immune system to keeping us healthy. Building and maintaining a healthy microbiome is essential to help us age well and to prevent a range of chronic diseases. 

    beautiful healthy dish


    It is all about balance, and unfortunately, the gut balance is easily disrupted, especially in modern society. Overuse of antibiotics, the environment, poor sleep quality, stress, and eating a poor-quality diet can all upset this balance, but if we start to manage these things, we can improve our gut health. Diet is one of the most powerful tools we have for optimizing our gut health. So, if you want to keep your resident microbes happy, you need to help the bacteria that live there naturally grow by feeding them prebiotics and probiotics. 





    Prebiotics are types of fiber that feed the good bacteria and encourage their growth in our gut. Many people assume that the only way we can include prebiotics in our diet is to take them in supplement form when in fact, prebiotics are in many plant-based foods such as leeks, onions, bananas, garlic, and asparagus.

    So, if you are looking to optimize your gut health, make sure to include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. A good tip is to try and have at least 30 different types of plant-based foods each week.


    Probiotics are live cultures – including bacteria and yeasts – similar to those found naturally in your gut. They support digestive health and immune function by boosting the number of good bacteria in our gut.

    There are many different probiotics strains, all with unique health benefits; for example, the strain Bifidobacterium Lactis can help treat constipation in some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There are two ways to increase these beneficial bacteria in your gut: fermented foods and supplements.


    Fermentation is an ancient method of food preservation which enhances the nutrition value, texture, and flavor of foods. Although an area that requires more research, it has been suggested that these foods are beneficial to our gut health due to probiotics within the fermented food. 

    It is important to note that not all fermented foods are probiotics. Probiotics are live microbes that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit. Not all fermented foods meet that standard.

    The microorganisms used to make fermented foods haven’t been tested in clinical trials to see if they have a health benefit or if this benefit continues beyond fermentation. If a fermented food has been tested in human studies and has shown a health benefit, then it can be classified as a probiotic.

    Many yogurts and fermented milks such as kefir are considered probiotics for that reason. Although some fermented foods may not fall under the definition of “probiotics,” many do contain live microbes; most cheeses, non-heated sauerkraut, kimchi, olives, miso, dry fermented sausage. These foods contribute to the existing microbiota and thus have the potential to affect our health.


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    There are several things that you can do to keep your gut microbiota healthy, balanced, and functioning optimally. 

    • Eat a wide range of plant-based foods. We should be aiming for about 30 different varieties each week. A healthy gut has a diverse community of microbes, each of which prefers different foods, so we must try to vary the foods that we eat from week to week. 
    • Eat more foods rich in fiber. The fiber found in some fiber rich foods (but not all) has a prebiotic effect, stimulating the growth of good bacteria. Most people don’t eat enough fiber. Fruit such as nectarines and grapefruit, vegetables such as garlic onion and leeks along with some pulses, nuts, and whole grains feed healthy bacteria, so should be included in the diet. 
    • Avoid highly processed foods as the gut microbes don’t like them. 
    • Include probiotics and fermented foods in your diet, e.g., live yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, sourdough bread as they might encourage more microbes to grow.
    • Take regular exercise. 
    • Work on limiting your stresses. 
    • Try and achieve at least 7 hours of good quality sleep each night.

    The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.  

    The Post Probiotics Vs Prebiotics: What’s The Difference and What Do I Need To Do To Look After My Gut Health appeared first on Womanly Inspiration.

    8 Strategies To Cope With And Conquer Anxiety

    8 Strategies To Cope With And Conquer Anxiety

    Kylee Nelson

    Kylee Nelson is a licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Fulfilled Motherhood Counseling. View profile

    Anxiety is that feeling you experience with a tightness in your chest, those worry thoughts spiraling through your brain and that jittery feeling going through your body. Often, it’s accompanied by a feeling that things aren’t going to work out and that something is going to be terribly wrong. Sometimes anxiety comes when there is a real threat – however, often it comes when we are experiencing immense amounts of stress and aren’t sure how to cope. Something as small as waking up late for your day or something as big as a global pandemic can trigger anxiety.


    Lucky for us – there are many small, practical lifestyle changes and in the moment strategies we can use to overcome our anxiety.


    4 Lifestyle Changes to Help with Anxiety


    1.  Eating and Drinking – We need to make sure we are properly nourishing ourselves and providing ourselves with energy so our bodies can function well. This means eating every 3-4 hours and drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you aren’t currently doing this, I would suggest you start here and see how you feel.

    2.  Sleep – When we are under stress, we require more sleep than usual. If you were previously well rested with 6-7 hours of sleep but now find yourself waking up tired and groggy, shift your schedule to allow for 8-9 hours of sleep. When we run on little sleep, our nervous systems suffer and this can cause an increase in anxiety.

    3.  Movement – Getting daily movement in our lives is so important for optimal mental health. Every time you exercise, you release endorphins which are chemicals that tell your brain you are happy. Go for a walk. Do some yoga. Play with your children in the backyard. You don’t have to have a full workout plan to get in some daily movement.

    4.  Quiet Time/Rest Time – We all require some quiet, restful times in our days and weeks to feel our best. Different people require more or less of this than others, so it’s important to find what works best for you. This could be a quiet walk alone, some time to read scripture and pray or some time for meditation. It could also be an afternoon a week where you have nothing on your schedule, and you can do whatever feels right in the moment. Just create some breathing room in your schedule for yourself.


    4 Things To Try When Anxiety Strikes


    1.  Box Breathing – Doing breathing exercises helps calm your nervous system and lower anxiety. Box breathing is a style of breathing and holding your breathe shown to help lower anxiety. You breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, breathe out for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts. Repeat 2-3 times as needed.

    2.  5,4,3,2,1 technique. This is my favorite one when you are struggling in the moment with panic or starting to feel overwhelmed. Look around and say (out loud or in your head) 5 things you see, 4 things you feel, 3 things you hear, 2 things you smell and 1 thing you taste. Don’t get overwhelmed if you can only come up with 1 smell or 2 things you hear. The goal is to engage your senses and help bring your anxiety down.

    3.  Worry Time. If you are in a particularly hard season of life or you find yourself a natural worrier, it can help to set aside specific time each day to think about these worries. The idea is that by setting aside this time, you will give your mind time to process and prevent these worries from taking over your day to day life. You set a timer for 10-20 minutes, get a journal or go for a walk and let yourself think through all the things you’re worried about. At the end of the time, close the journal or turn around and walk in a new direction and you’re done worrying for the day. If the thoughts come back remind yourself that you can think about them again tomorrow and move on to something new.

    4.  Stop and Distract. Sometimes we worry about things we have no control over or things from the past. We worry about getting sick. We worry about what someone thinks about us. We worry about that thing we said last week and how it was taken at work. In these instances, it can be helpful to stop your thoughts and distract yourself with something else. You can picture a bright red stop sign in your mind, say STOP out loud or in your head and repeat a positive mantra to yourself or think of a funny story. This can be a helpful way to shift your mind, and in turn, shift your mood.

    When figuring out ways to cope and conquer your anxiety, it’s important to remember 2 things. First, these things take time. Pick one or two strategies and try them for a week or two before you decide they don’t work for you. Second, not every strategy works for every person. If you’ve given it a try for a week or two and are finding it’s not helping, move on and try another strategy.

    If you find yourself really struggling after trying to make some positive lifestyle changes and trying out some of the coping skills above, it could be time for you to reach out to a licensed therapist in your area who can help you create a specific plan to fit your lifestyle to work through and conquer your anxiety. There is no shame in seeking help. You are not alone. Over 280 million people worldwide struggle with anxiety. There is help and you can feel better.


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    • Over 280 Million people worldwide struggle with anxiety. Only 1/3 of those people get adequate professional help
    • Lifestyle changes like changing your sleep, eating and drinking habits, getting movement and creating quiet space in your week can improve your anxiety.
    • There are quick, easy strategies such as deep breathing, worry time and others that can help you calm down when you’re feeling panicky or overwhelmed.
    • If you try these lifestyle changes and coping strategies but still find yourself struggling, there is no shame in getting help.
    • A licensed counselor in your area can help you create a plan to fit your needs and your lifestyle so you can start feeling better. Anxiety is not your fault. There is help. You can feel better.

    The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.  

    The Post 8 Strategies To Cope With And Conquer Anxiety appeared first on Womanly Inspiration.

    Here’s How Your Gut Bacteria Can Protect Your Heart

    Here’s How Your Gut Bacteria Can Protect Your Heart

    veronica rouse

    Veronica Rouse MAN, RD, CDE is The Heart Dietitian who helps individuals with healthy eating in order to prevent and manage heart disease. View profile

    Heart disease is often seen as a man’s health issue, but in fact, it’s the leading cause of death for women in North America. Heart disease is an illness that can sneak up on you.  Women often experience little to no warning signs compared to men. Inflammation can effect heart disease.  If you have heart disease in your family, are living with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or blood sugar, please be sure to start taking inflammation seriously and start managing your heart disease before it’s too late.

    When we look to the science, it is very clear that nutrition can play a role in preventing and managing heart disease.  Specifically, our goal in prevention and management of heart disease is to prevent our heart’s arteries from building up plaque and clogging, also known as atherosclerosis.

    In the past, heart healthy nutrition management involved optimizing blood vessel health to vasodilate arteries for proper blood flow by lowering cholesterol and managing blood pressure. More recently, the gut has been researched for its role in heart disease management.  Interestingly the gut has been identified not just as a vehicle for digestion and metabolism but for heart health, brain health and even mental health.

    One of the proposed mechanisms of actions is through the gut production of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), derived from a dietary nutrient, carnitine. TMAO production is said to cause a faster progression of heart disease and poor outcomes in people with heart disease because it alters cholesterol metabolism, accelerates atherosclerosis formation and activates inflammatory pathways.

    How is TMAO produced?    

    When you eat carnitine (found in meat, egg yolks and high fat dairy) it is digested by gut bacteria, which produces TMAO. The amount of TMAO produced depends on the health and type of bacteria found in your gut.

    Research has suggested that in individuals who include more plants in their diet (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts/seeds), this impacts the metabolism of carnitine in a way that does not lead to TMAO production. This is how the bacteria in your intestine plays a large role in one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. The more plant based foods you eat, the healthier your gut bacteria and less TMAO production when carnitine is eaten.

    What can we do to keep our gut bugs healthy?

    –  First we need to start by understanding where carnitine is found in our food supply. It’s located in animal products like meat, fish, poultry and milk. The redder the meat, the higher the carnitine content. So let’s start by decreasing our intake of animal products, especially red meat. Instead, try eating more protein from plants like legumes, tofu, nuts and whole grains.

    – Another way we can create a healthy gut microbiome is by eating foods that promote good bacteria growth.  Gut bugs thrive off eating fiber! Fiber is only found in plant products, so be sure to eat your recommended servings of vegetables & fruits, in addition to the plant based proteins.

    – Probiotics can also support the development of healthy gut bugs. Try adding kimchi, miso or tempeh to your eating pattern.

    – My final suggestion is to add more prebiotics to your plate, as these feed our gut bugs. Prebiotics are foods that are rich in fibers like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like quinoa and barley.


    What do all of these foods have in common?

    They are mostly plant foods! Focusing on adding more plants into your eating pattern by ensuring there is color on your plate at each meal is a great place to start.

    Healing starts from the inside. Including more plants in your eating pattern is a great first step to help heal your gut and grow a healthy microbiome. If you follow these tips you will be well on your way to manage inflammation to reduce atherosclerosis formation and stop further damage to your arteries.


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    • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in North America.
    • More recently, the gut has been researched for its role in heart disease management.
    • TMAO production can cause a faster progression of heart disease and poor outcomes in people with heart disease.
    • The healthier your gut bacteria, the less TMAO production when carnitine is eaten which will lead to better heart health.
    • There are several ways to keep your gut bacteria healthy; eat more protein from plants, eat more fiber, and add prebiotics and probiotics to your diet.

    The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.  

    The Post Here’s How Your Gut Bacteria Can Protect Your Heart appeared first on Womanly Inspiration.

    Interested In Meditation? Get Started Now

    Interested In Meditation? Get Started Now

    Rashmi Schramm MD

    Rashmi Schramm MD is an Integrative Physician who specializes in helping busy women combat the effects of daily stress. View profile

    In the last article, Is Meditation Really Worth All The Hype?I defined what meditation is and then we looked into some of the many benefits of having a meditation practice. Spoiler alert: meditation is actually worth all the hype! I’d love for you to read the article and learn about the scientifically studied health benefits you’ll gain from meditation.

    My patients and friends often tell me that meditating is really hard, or challenging. So I made this video so you could see for yourself how easy a meditation practice really is. I put this video together for Womanly Inspiration and I would love for us to meditate together. 
    Find a relatively quiet spot, sit down, relax and let’s get started.


    I hope you enjoyed meditating with me. Now that you have tried meditation, try incorporating it into your daily routine. Even just 5 minutes a day will start to show up positively in your life.   


    The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about any medical condition.  


    The Post Interested In Meditation? Get Started Now appeared first on Womanly Inspiration.