Goodbye to Annie Annys

In the brain aneurysm community, we know her as Annie.

You don’t want to meet her. But I did — seven years ago this weekend.

My Annie was a triplet.

The first aneurysm sat in the back of my brain. Her twin sisters parked themselves above my right ear.

I knew nothing of them until Annie #1 blew up on April 20, 2012.

She exploded when I was on the road. DH and I had flown to his Nebraska hometown to move his parents into assisted living.

I knew there was a problem when, at age 55, I wet my pants in front of my mother-in-law. The ER doctor took one look at the MRI and ordered me flown to Omaha for emergency brain surgery.

Later, I read get well messages on the computer. My voice went on vacation, forced mute by an emergency tracheostomy.

I got worse before I got better. Unexpected complications set in.

Doctors put me in a percussion bed. It rotates as it thumps your backside. The neuro team induced a coma.

Later, I landed in rehab back in Houston with only three tubes remaining in my body. I relearned how to walk, talk, shower, dress, and feed myself.

Our dog, Rudi, loved rehab visits. His version of wheelchair healing delivered tears of unabashed joy.

I remember little of that cruelest month-plus.

Pictures fill the memory blanks. The photos exist for one reason. Early, I suggested to DH: “take lots of pictures. I might need them for a book or something.” 

Here we are, seven years later. The book is in the pipeline.

I share my Annie misadventure because this Easter weekend, my head buzzes with a seven-year-itch.

It’s time to close the books with this anniversary.

A ruptured brain aneurysm and a single surgery devolved into 15 hospitalizations and four brain surgeries. Amid the health crises, we buried ten family members during those years.

I call them my anni horribiles, or horrible years. Queen Elizabeth’s bad 1992 offers chocolate cake with sprinkles compared to these last seven in my tribe.

The word “seven” bristles with universal meaning.

Seven days of creation. Seven days in a week. Seven seas. Seven continents. Seven colors in a rainbow. Seven chakras. Seven Wonders of the World. Seven deadly sins.

Even my car hit a notable seven yesterday. Ah, the lucky power of timely observation!

Ancient Greeks and Romans believed seven-year cycles guide every human life. They named it the “hebdomadal system.” Mystic Rudolf Steiner modernized the concept in 1924. Some believe the human body renews all its cells every seven years (a myth, by the way).

The seven-year theme echoes across religions, economics, politics, even writing. The Roman writer, Censorinus, made a powerful, primal connection. In A.D. 238, he linked these life cycles to Nature: “seven years…a turning point and something new occurs.” This link offers hope, stability, and an ending.

Pema Chodron aces the message with words of her own: “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”

What learnings can I share from these past seven years?

  • Let your team help you survive. Return the favor often.
  • Let your life purpose rise up; it’s waiting to guide you.
  • Let your body tell you what it needs. Listen well.
  • Let your mind and soul offer thanks. Daily.
  • There are no lessons, only learnings. Use and share them. Wisely.

I’m packed and ready for the next cycle.

Bigger, braver roads beckon me forward, onward.

How about you?