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Walking Down the Aisle to Recovery

Walking Down the Aisle to Recovery

“I’m fine.”

“I’m too young for this.”

“Everyone is overreacting.”

“I just need to change up my lifestyle.”

These are the phrases that 33-year-old Kristin Clemons continued to play in her mind as her medical condition worsened by the day.

Clemons started having what she thought were seizures. Her symptoms consisted of body tremors and the loss of motor functions and speech.

With her fairytale wedding less than a month away and five children to consider, Clemons convinced herself that her symptoms came from a lack of nutrition in her diet.

On February 22, 2021, Clemons had three seizure-like episodes that left her family in shock so they rushed her to the emergency room. As a former case management employee, Clemons was no stranger to North Oaks Health System, so she prepared her fiancé for the multiple tests she would possibly be subjected to in the emergency room.

“I mentally prepared myself for something to be wrong, but never in a million years did I expect it to be something like this,” Clemons stated.

“When the emergency room physician told me it was a mass, I had my moment of screaming and crying. But the first thing that came to my mind was my kids; I knew they wouldn’t be ready for this kind of news.”

"Her MRI scan showed a bleeding area deep within her brain, a vascular malformation that would require surgery. There was just one problem: she was getting married in four weeks. I attempted to convince her to delay the wedding, but the young bride-to-be would not hear of it," her neurosurgeon, Dr. Alexander, shared.

A CAT scan confirmed a cavernoma (a cluster of abnormal blood vessels) on Clemons’s brain and the blood vessels surrounding it ruptured, causing her seizure-like activity. With thoughts of her family, upcoming wedding and future, the mention of undergoing brain surgery was terrifying.

"With all of my options laid out for me by Dr. Alexander, I felt the decision was easy. I know that might sound crazy because choosing brain surgery cannot be an easy decision to make, but he made me feel comfortable that I was making the best decision for myself and my family. He had confidence I would be able to walk down the aisle to my husband in time for our wedding," expressed Clemons.

Clemons underwent a craniotomy on March 11, 2021, where the goal was to remove the cavernoma and stop the bleeding.

“Of course, I was worried, but I was not worried for myself. I was worried for my family. I went into this surgery knowing there was a possibility that I could never wake up, but I had faith. I had faith in God, and I had faith in my surgeon,” exclaimed Clemons.

After a successful procedure, Clemons took the time to heal and do physical therapy. Her motivation was to walk down the aisle on March 28 without any medical assistance…and she did just that.

“I married that day and walked down the aisle with my daddy holding me tight. It was a struggle, but the strength and bond of my family got me through this entire experience,” noted Clemons.

"My whole life, I have used North Oaks," shared Clemons. "I was born here, and so were my kids. I knew I could trust North Oaks with my life! Thank God I did because I do not think I would have received the same care anywhere else."