- Associated Press - Saturday, October 1, 2016

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (AP) - September was Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, and Woodstock resident Alana Sattler said she wants more people to be aware of the life-threatening condition.

It’s been more than two years since Sattler, 27, had a brain aneurysm rupture that almost took her life. She’s still on a long road to recovery and wants to help spread awareness of the condition, which is a weakness in a blood vessel that can fill the brain with blood.

When Sattler was just 6 weeks old, doctors told her parents their baby had a brain aneurysm, but it did not end up rupturing. However, Sattler wasn’t as lucky in May 2014.

Sattler had her brain aneurysm rupture when she was 25. She said it was a regular Sunday morning and nothing seemed out of the ordinary earlier in the day. But when she was at the gym, her life changed in a matter of seconds.

“I had just gotten off the treadmill and went onto the machines,” Sattler said. “Then something came over me and all of a sudden I couldn’t lift my left hand or my leg anymore. I eventually collapsed onto the floor.”

Sattler said she was determined to get up, but people at the gym told her not to.

“I stayed down, passed out and didn’t wake up until after the surgery at UI Health in Chicago,” Sattler said.

In June 2015, she had her second angiogram to check on the status of her brain. Receiving good news, doctors said everything looked good, and she likely won’t have to go back for another angiogram in a few years.

Sattler has been going to rehab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for physical and occupational therapy since the rupture. There have been a lot of steps to her recovery process in an attempt to ensure she won’t have another anytime soon.

“I give it my all when I go there,” Sattler said. “It’s tiring, but if I get something out of it at the end of the day it’s worth it. I can’t just sit and watch television all day. It’s just not in me to do that.”

Sattler said she tries to go on a treadmill for a half-hour almost every day and is determined to run again.

“When it ruptured, I was working out at the time and fit. It didn’t match the category of people who typically have brain aneurysms,” Sattler said. “So it’s scary because there are not a lot of signs, and it can happen to anybody, whether you seem healthy or not.”

While warning signs can be rare, they can include double vision, a constant headache and numbness on one side of the body or face. One side effect Sattler has experienced since her brain surgery is she now has a form of epilepsy. However, Sattler said medicine has helped.

“It may be hard to think of every word that I’m thinking in my head,” Sattler said. “(There’s) fogginess and short-term memory (loss). This gets worse throughout the day as I become more tired. I had to relearn the alphabet and my colors. My husband Jeremy and I played a game where every time I got a color right, I got to eat a peanut butter M&M.;”

Sattler said she hopes more people become aware of the condition and how it can drastically change someone’s life. For last year’s Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month, Sattler was part of a series of videos from UI Health that feature brain aneurysm survivors. In her featured YouTube video, Sattler tells others with brain aneurysms to not give up and that things will get better.

Sattler said through this tough time her family has been extremely supportive, and they all have tattoos symbolizing what she has been through. Sattler currently works full time at Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake, her first job since the rupture. She also recently got married to her husband, Jeremy, in May.

“I’m still the same person, but because of this, it has altered my mind, and I think differently now,” Sattler said. “My life has been affected drastically, but I feel like I’m getting back to normal again because of my support system.”

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Source: The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald, http://bit.ly/2ddra25

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Information from: The Northwest Herald, http://www.nwherald.com

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