Story of Survival: Suburban Mother Says Seizure Saved Her Life

Doctors made a starling discovery when performing a brain scan on a suburban woman in Sept. 2018

A suburban mother of two young twins credits a seizure and her dog's actions for saving her life.

On Sept. 11, 2018, Sarah and Joe Rehak were sleeping when their dog, Bailey, woke Joe up by sticking her nose in his chest. It turned out that Sarah was having a seizure. 

“I woke up," Sarah Rehak said. "I didn’t even believe him. I thought maybe I had a bad dream.”

Sarah Rehak went to the hospital where brain scans revealed a startling discovery: an aneurysm that was 20 times the diameter of the actual blood vessel.

The seizure was the result of the aneurysm pushing against her brain. Weeks later, Sarah Rehak underwent an operation that most people who experience aneurysms don't survive to go through. 

“They [aneurysms] cause no symptoms. They’re silent killers until for some reason that day, they decide to burst," said Dr. Babak Jahromi with Northwestern Medicine. "When they burst, 1/3 of our patients don’t make it to the hospital.”

While Dr. Jahromi said high blood pressure, smoking, heavy alcohol use and family history are contributing factors to aneurysms, many people don't know they have them. 

In Sarah Rehak's case, she had tried for more than a year to get pregnant. But giving birth, Dr. Jahromi said, could have been fatal for her. 

It wasn't until after the surgery the Rehaks learned the exciting news: they were having not one, but two baby girls. 

"They're very lucky their mother had a seizure, because if she didn't, it would have been totally different," Joe Rehak said. 

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