Westmed Medical Group honored a fellow colleague on National Brain Injury Awareness Day, March 13, 2019.
On August 25, 2017, Laura Naranjo, a Patient Experience Associate at Westmed, had a sudden onset of what she says was “the worst headache of her life”. Having suffered from migraines in the past, she phoned her Westmed neurologist, Dr. Billy Yung, who told her that this was not a normal symptom and she should go to the hospital right away. Once she arrived, the team determined she would need surgery for two brain aneurysms, one of which was a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
After Laura’s first hospitalization, she underwent a second operation in September of 2017, to fix the second aneurysm. Laura remained in the hospital for about 3 weeks, and worked on her recovery for four months before she was able to return to work part-time.
Two years after her surgeries, Laura’s recovery has come a long way. While she still struggles with some cognitive issues, experiences short-term memory loss and expressive aphasia, which affects her speech, Laura is able to work again as part of our front desk team full-time. She credits her recovery to the huge support group she has around her. From her family and friends to her colleagues and providers at Westmed, Laura is so grateful to everyone for their help and kindness.
Laura has turned a difficult period in her life in to a passion for advocacy and awareness building. She is an active member of The Brain Aneurysm Foundation of America and The Brain Injury Association of New York. On March 26th, she is heading to Washington with The Brain Aneurysm Foundation of America to advocate for better funding for brain aneurysm detection. In fact, she says that brain aneurysms are commonly misdiagnosed. The most important treatment for an aneurysm is early intervention; it can literally save a life.
A key message from Laura’s experience over the past few years is: “Don’t ignore your symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms that are out of the ordinary and you feel like something is wrong, you should definitely call your doctor.”
Laura is a Westmed hero and we thank her for sharing her story. She is playing a key role in spreading awareness about brain injuries at Westmed and we applaud her!
On March 13, 2019 – Westmed employees wore royal blue in support of Laura and others who have dealt with a brain injury.
A special note from Laura:
Without the unconditional love and support from my daughter Olivia, who is my caregiver and my 85 year old mother, I couldn’t have made such a remarkable recovery.
Along with my whole Westmed family, I would like to personally thank:
Dr. Billy Yung
…and all the doctors and staff on the third floor of 210 Westchester Avenue
Statistics and Facts about Brain Aneurysms:
- An estimated six million people in the United States have an un-ruptured brain aneurysm, or 1 in 50 people.
- Approximately 15% of people with a ruptured aneurysm die before reaching the hospital.
- Despite the widespread availability of brain imaging that can detect a ruptured brain aneurysm, misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis occur in up to one quarter of patients when initially seeking medical attention. In three out of four cases, misdiagnosis results from a failure to do a scan.
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