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.