A Plano mother with an aneurysm says early diagnoses, a tip from a friend on Facebook and an out-of-the-box procedure saved her life.
Doctors say aneurysms are more rare in women than in men. One in 15 people have them, and 50 percent of people don't make it to the hospital alive.
Stacie Markley, 35, said it started with a sharp headache while she was in the car with her family on Christmas Day. She also noticed her right pupil was dilated, but she ignored it.
"The next Wednesday, I had friends over and I had the exact same headache, and I looked in the mirror and my pupil was large again," she said.
Markley went to the emergency room.
"They did a CAT scan first, and they said they saw something on the right side of my brain, which scared me," she said.
An MRI revealed that it was an aneurysm. Markley said the doctor told her they would make an incision from her forehead down and around her ear, pull her brain up and clip the aneurysm.
But there were serious risks to the surgery. Markley started writing a goodbye note to her husband.
"It's been so hard to stay strong through this, but the monitors don't lie," the note read. "You always know how to settle me down when I'm upset and putting up with me sleeping on your chest even when you're hot. Thanks for loving me so much. I love you."
Markley also started posting about her condition on Facebook.
A friend's post urging her to get a second opinion stood out. The friend told her that her mother had survived an aneurysm with help of a coiling method at UT Southwestern.
Dr. Babu Welch, a neurosurgeon at UT Southwestern, gave Markley two options.
"I can walk in and say, 'I'm going to make a big incision, open your scalp, take the bone out. I'm going to go under your brain with some little tools and put a clip on the aneurysm, and then you're going to go home.' Or I can take a little tube and an incision about this big and run it up through your body and block the aneurysm off, and you can go home the next day," he said.
Markley chose the latter, the coiling method.
Welch made a small incision in her groin. Using a catheter and platinum-like alloys, he filled the aneurysm in her brain, causing it to clot and then scar.
“I was out probably at 10:30 the next morning," Markley said. "The therapist came in, I walked around, and they checked me out. Everything was fine, and they let me go home."
Markley, who spends her days chasing after her 2- and 5-year-old daughters, said she and her daughters haven't missed a beat.
"They just knew I was sick; they were fine," she said. "They were taken care of."
"I am so happy to be here," she said. "I am so lucky to have my girls and my family. I don't know. I am still in shock, I think."