My Story

Without any premonition or warning signs, June 19, 2009 was nearly the last day of my life. It was a happy, sunny morning in our former home in upstate New York with my husband, Richard, our daughter, Kate, our son-in law, Mike and our 5 month old grandson, Thomas, who were visiting us for Father’s Day weekend. After family breakfast, Richard, Mike, and I headed off for an early round of golf, before picking up our son, Tim, at the train station.

I took a few practice swings and suddenly my head started to spin. I curled up on a nearby bench, holding my head, waiting for the stabbing pain and dizziness to subside. It didn’t. Richard immediately sensed something was seriously wrong and rushed me to the nearest hospital where the doctors administered an emergency CAT scan. It was apparent that I had suffered a ruptured subarachnoid aneurysm. The attending physician advised Richard that I would need to be transported to a Level One Trauma Center immediately were I to have any chance of survival.

Throughout these terrifying hours, I was only partially aware of my condition. My inner voice told me that trusting my family to make the right decisions for me would see me through. After being medevaced to Albany Medical Center, my next conscious memory was hearing the voice of Dr. Alan Boulos, Chief of Neurosurgery. Dr. Boulos stood by my bedside, speaking in a calm, informative voice. He explained to my family the full extent of my condition, as I held his hand tightly. After 8 1/2 hours of surgery and a successful outcome, I was returned to the ICU, fully lucid and with the ability to speak. The healing process began.

The brain heals on its own schedule and the process went slowly. I remained in the ICU for 23 days. Watched over by a life force greater than my own, I learned, emphatically, that I could not speed up the recovery or dictate my own terms. Overcoming one hurdle at a time offered the opportunity to make it to the next challenge, of which there were many. My body functions, my spirit and my identity felt like a disconnected machine, in which each component would come back “on line” in sequential order.

One day I was a healthy, 57 year old woman. The next day, I was fighting for my life with all my hopes and dreams temporarily lost. For almost 2 years, my entire universe was centered upon regaining the person that I once was. Was this event a random act, bad luck, pre-destined? No one has a definitive answer but either way, I was truly blessed.

With the help of those whom I love and those whom I have come to love, today I have a fully restored life.

— Martha

Dr. Boulos’s Research

(supported by the MHB Research Fund)

Our center continues to be on the leading edge of treatment options for ruptured cerebral aneurysms and ischemic strokes in the country. We have used innovative surgical and endovascular tools to improve outcomes for our patients.

The proposed research will allow us to evaluate and share clinical experiences in a database for the purpose of outcomes analysis. This would become a national resource impacting patients far beyond Albany Medical Center.  The complicated variables our patient cases present us represent an invaluable body of knowledge if these variables are captured both quantitatively and qualitatively and we monitor the patients over time. This ever-growing body of data will significantly advance the quality of evidence and assist neurosurgeons when evaluating treatment options. 

The first step in this project is to create the database and purchase the software. This could cost upward of $100,000. I do however have the opportunity to hire a medical student skilled in computer software development at a highly reduced labor cost. I am hoping to have the initial program developed and completed with the support of The MHB Neurovascular Research Program. 

A second phase will involve a ten year retrospective analysis of our patients’ experiences, while maintaining the database and recording new patients on an ongoing basis.

About Dr. Boulos


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