Pam Melampy Has Died

Former Charlottesville Clerk of Court candidate Pam Melampy died suddenly of an aneurysm on Monday. On Sunday, having a terrible headache, she got checked out at Martha Jefferson Hospital. After a CT scan and an MRI, they sent her to UVA’s neuro ICU, where she died the next day. Melampy was 50 years old. A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church on Sunday morning at 10 AM.

My family and I have spent a great deal of time in UVA’s neuro ICU in the past two weeks. My mother-in-law likewise experienced a terrible headache exactly two weeks ago, and she also went to Martha Jefferson, which also sent her to UVA, although in her case Martha Jefferson kept her in the waiting room for three hours while her brain bled out. Her body and mind shutting down, UVA diagnosed her with a cerebral hemorrhage (basically an aneurysm). They removed a big chunk of her skull to remove the clot from her brain. And then we waited. The neuro ICU waiting room is a terrible place. Nobody is there for a minor problem. Many people are facing terrible choices of what to do for loved ones. The best news anybody’s liable to get there is “she’s alive right now.” But we got lucky. She lived, she’s regaining functionality, and tomorrow she’ll be moved to HealthSouth to start what’s likely to be weeks of therapy.

There are no warnings for aneurysms, cerebral arteriovenous malformations, or cerebral hemorrhages. If anybody you know ever suddenly experiences the worst headache of his life, get him to the UVA ER immediately, no matter his objections. Tell the ER that it’s an aneurysm, and insist on a CT scan. The odds of surviving an aneurysm isn’t great, but by reacting quickly, the odds improve. Surgery can stop the bleeding, relieve the pressure, and save a life.

9 thoughts on “Pam Melampy Has Died”

  1. I am stunned at this news. When I read about Pam going to the hospital, Waldo, I immediately thought of Barbara; but Pam’s sudden passing brings home just how dangerous and precarious your mother-law’s situation was. I am sorrowful for Pam’s family, and thankful that yours is having a better resolution.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that, and sorry to hear about your MIL, Waldo. I hope the recovery goes smoothly. Thanks for the information, it’s good to know.

  3. Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.

    I did some time in the waiting room of the neuro ICU at Columbia Presbyterian in NYC a few years ago when my brother was there. He also started with the worst headache of his life.

    I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but people spent a lot of time staring at the phones on the wall of the waiting room. A phone would ring, someone would answer it, then call out the last name of the family that needed to take the call from the operating room. My brother was already out of surgery by the time I made it to NYC, but I can imagine both wanting and not wanting the phone to ring for you.

    I’m so sad for Pam’s family. My thoughts are with yours, Waldo.

  4. Immediately after, he was very emotional and they said it was partly due to medication (but probably also from processing what happened to him). He was out of the ICU after two days and I think he left the hospital with a week. His memory was affected, but it came back fairly quickly. I don’t remember what kind of therapy he had afterwards, but I believe he was back at work within a month. If there were any problems at work, where he has to recall codes and laws, I didn’t hear about them.

    It’s been a few years and I think there are still a few gaps in his memory. If you look closely at his head, you can see the scar about two inches back from his hair line, but that might be due to his very short hair cut.

  5. It sounds like he had a really great outcome, Jeannine! I appreciate that, from his perspective, maybe not so much—he had a terrible headache, and next thing he knew he was in a hospital bed being told he was lucky to be alive. But from the perspective of your family, who was surely provided with excruciating detail about the state of his brain and his surgery, this is really a best-possible scenario…once one accepts the aneurysm as a thing that has happened that cannot un-happen. That’s encouraging. :)

  6. Waldo,

    My hopes and prayers are with Barbara and with Pam’s family. Jefferson Hospital of Neuroscience, here in Philly and by some extension my former employer, is one of the leading facilities researching and treating aneurysms and cerebral hemorrhages of all types. If you have any questions about these events and their sequelae feel free to ask and I will do my best to find you an answer or resource.


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