Marla Blankenship--Cerebral Aneurysm

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Marla Blankenship had migraines before. But she had never had anything like this -- a sudden, massive head pain that felt about 100 times worse than a migraine.
She was tending her herd of animals in Easton, New Hampshire late one October afternoon when it happened. Marla and her husband Tom run Wonder Fall Farm and raise fainting goats -- a historic, unique breed of goat known for "fainting," or falling down, when they get scared or excited.

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That afternoon, she had just finished feeding the female goats and was heading over to feed the males when the pain started. She asked Tom to finish up for her and went to lie down.

When the pain didn’t go away, Tom took her to the local hospital, where doctors discovered that an aneurysm in her brain had burst. From there, she went by ambulance to Fletcher Allen.

Michael Horgan, M.D., Fletcher Allen neurosurgeon and associate professor of neurosurgery at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, performed emergency surgery and repaired her cerebral aneurysm -- clipping the blood vessel to stop the flow of blood. After the surgery, Marla remained under close watch in the intensive care unit for two weeks before she was able to go home.

A few months later, she came back for an elective surgery to repair a second aneurysm on the opposite side of her brain. This aneurysm had not burst and didn’t require emergency treatment. Dr. Horgan repaired the second aneurysm in March 2010.

Both surgeries were successful.  "Her care was fantastic," said her husband, Tom Blankenship. "We’ve had other medical emergencies but we’ve never been through that. It was eye-opening and very scary."
Both Marla and Tom were impressed with Fletcher Allen -- from the surgeons to the nurses to the staff in the intensive care unit. 

"It’s one of the nicest hospitals I’ve ever been in in my life," Marla said.

Today, Marla, 51, is recovering well and back to doing all her usual activities -- taking care of the goats, selling goat’s milk lotions and soaps and preparing for another breeding season.
"It’s all great," Marla said, looking back at her experience and the care she received. "I could have been among the percentages of people who don’t survive  . . .  I’m doing pretty good."