Lee Broadway had never been a stranger to mind-numbing migraines, but even she knew there was something wrong when she suddenly started experiencing the worst headache of her life.
Though she had suffered migraines since she was just 8 years old, Lee’s husband immediately rushed her to the hospital once she told him she couldn’t take the pain any longer.
“I raced home and took her to the ER,” Eric Broadway later explained to PEOPLE. “I knew this couldn’t be good because I’ve seen her deal with pain before.”
When they arrived at the hospital, the Broadways quickly learned that Lee’s terrible migraine had actually been a life-threatening brain aneurysm.
Although the two conditions are not related, doctors say migraines and brain aneurysms do share some of the same symptoms, such as pain, light sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, and blurred vision.
As the Mayo Clinic describes online, one of the telltale signs of an aneurysm is that it truly feels like the worst headache of your entire life.
On April 2, shortly after discovering that Lee, 41, had an aneurysm, doctors performed a surgery to fix the problem.
“The doctor came out and said everything looked good. We got the thumbs up and took a deep breath,” Eric recalled, believing his wife had been saved just in time. “We knew she was going to be in some pain but that she’d be with us.”
Sadly, just two hours later, the doctor came rushing out like her “hair was on fire” and explained that there had been a complication with the procedure.
10 hours later, Eric was taken into a conference room and told that Lee would not make it; she was brain dead.
“She took us all in and all I heard was, ‘There is nothing we can for her,’ ” Eric said, explaining that Lee had bled out. “I ran out and lost it.”
“We’re still in shock,” he added. “Especially for the kids. They’re all grieving in their own ways.”
Eric, who had been with Lee since they were teenagers, had no idea how to tell the couple’s four children that their mother was gone.
“I’ve tried to explain, but it’s hard,” he said. “It’s difficult to say she’s no longer with us.”
While Lee’s case is uncommon, it’s not completely unheard of, as brain aneurysms can often be swift and deadly.
At first, brain aneurysms can feel like a painful headache, but as time goes on they get progressively worse.
These are just a few of the warning signs to look out for:
- The worst headache of your life
- Sensitivity to light
- Nausea and the urge to vomit
- Blurred or double vision
- A stiff neck
- Droopy eyelids that seem to appear out of nowhere
- A sharp pain directly behind or above one eye
- Facial numbness
- Hearing sudden loud noises, like a gunshot