black women

Actress Tamala Jones Had an Aneurysm and Her Boss Made Her Come to Work Anyway

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By Daphne R

Hollywood actress Tamala Jones suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm a little over a decade ago at the age of 23. After surviving the swollen, spouted blood vessel, she’s made it her mission to educate the community about aneurysms and maintaining your personal health.

Recently, Tamala decided to go public about overcoming the potentially life-threatening condition. She remembers the brutal pain as she shares what happened in her own words.

‘[I woke] up one morning with a massive headache; feeling like I had to use the bathroom, like I had to urinate really bad. When I got out of bed I had no balance. I was walking on my toes and I was stomping. I had no control over my body weight. I looked in the mirror and I’m telling you two seconds after I looked in that mirror I dropped and hit the floor.’

‘I kept hearing myself tell myself, “Get up, get up now. Get up, get up, get up…,” and I kind of woke up as if somebody shook me out of a sleep, and the whole right side of my body was numb. I called work and I told them, “Something’s wrong with me. I can’t come in. I have to go to the hospital.” They told me, “You need to come into work. This is the last day of shooting for this season, and we don’t have time to wait for you to go to the doctor’s office.’

‘I went to the hospital after work and the doctor thought that it was a miracle that I was even alive, walking or talking, or that I even worked an entire day before I got to him. After that, I started having seizures. I had MRIs [and] cat scans, and they found out that my aneurysm actually burst. Had it been on another side of my brain I probably would have been paralyzed forever—it was on the left side of my brain and was the size of a 50-cent piece. They said once that blood dried up I would get my feeling back.’

‘I had headaches for like three weeks. I took everything, and nothing helped—from sinus medicine to migraine medicine. I say that if you get it checked out right away when you have this headache and it’s continuously going and nothing works then you can save yourself. They can give you something to help you or they can remove it or whatever they need to do. But I felt like it was my duty as a survivor to speak about it.’

‘I mention the aneurysm to anybody that I can. Whenever I have a platform for people there that are listening. Because it’s something that happened to me and something that can happen to anybody in this world, if you are given warning then you can probably save your own life. So, I tell anybody. It doesn’t matter why I’m there speaking. I always bring up health some type of way—I segue into having a brain aneurysm at an early age. Whether it’s your heart or your head or your legs or your arms, if it’s too much pain, the doctor’s the only place to go. Not staying at home and wondering if this is ever going to go away. I just thought it was selfish of me not to even say what I survived or what I felt.’

This information is particularly important to black women because women are at a higher risk than men of forming aneurysms and African Americans are at a higher risks than other races. So, black women should pay attention to risk factors such as family history of aneurysm, smoking cigarettes or having hypertension.

Aneurysms are oftentimes asymptomatic until the blood vessel bursts or gets large enough to press on certain regions of the brain that may cause severe headaches, blurred vision, changes in speech or neck pain. Most aneurysms occur at the back of the head near the base of the brain, so neck pain may be common.

Symptoms of a ruptured brain aneurysm come on suddenly and include severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, fainting and/or seizures. Should any of these symptoms come on suddenly, get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. It could mean the difference between life and death.

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Daphne R is an experienced marketing and communications professional that provides social commentary, self-help, tips, and reports news of events that matter to African Americans.