A 23-year-old mother was unable to make any sound for two years after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage at work.
Megan Guerra, now 28 and from Austin, Texas, was healthy and fit working as a skin care specialist at a clinic in the city.
But when she lay down to try a facial in 2017, she suddenly felt intense pain in her head before her vision went black.
Ms. Guerra was rushed to the hospital where doctors diagnosed her with a rupture of an abnormal mass of blood vessels in the brain, called an arteriovenous malformation, and the mass has likely been there since birth.
The rupture had caused a massive brain hemorrhage, they said, triggering a stroke in the part of the brain responsible for controlling breathing, heart rate, swallowing, blood pressure and consciousness.
Megan Guerra, now 28 and from Austin, Texas, was left in a coma for three months after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage.
The mother-of-one is shown above in the hospital and during her recovery, where she gradually learned to reuse her limbs.
Ms Guerra said her biggest motivation was her now 10-year-old daughter Taylor (shown right on her birthday), saying she “needs me to be her mom again.”
Ms. Guerra spent three months in a coma in the hospital, during which time her fiancée and her family were repeatedly warned that she may not survive.
But after receiving drugs to stimulate her central nervous system, the mother woke up again.
She was totally paralyzed and had to spend 14 months in a clinic to regain the ability to move and speak.
Relatives said he first regained strength in his fingers and toes, then in his hands and feet, then in his extremities, and finally in the central area of his body.
Doctors also diagnosed her with vocal cord paralysis and warned her that she would never be able to speak or eat normally again.
But two years after the brain hemorrhage and with repeated classes, he has also recovered this ability.
Today, Ms. Guerra says she can move her left side better than her right and get back on her feet. She can also speak again, although she still has trouble with some sounds.
Her daughter Taylor, now 10, was the main motivation for her recovery, with the mother saying Taylor “needs me to be her mother again.”
An arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is a rare condition, with fewer than one in 100,000 people in the United States thought to have it.
It is when a group of blood vessels forms incorrectly in the womb or soon after birth, leading to a tangle that bypasses normal tissue that is prone to tearing.
Patients can live for decades without being diagnosed with the condition until they are faced with a sudden and unexpected brain hemorrhage.
Doctors can treat the condition through surgery or embolization when a substance is injected into the tangled arteries and veins to block them.
Ms. Guerra’s case had not been previously detected and the doctors said that, even if it had been, she was in the wrong place to be operated on.
Revealing the day the brain hemorrhage occurred, she said: “I had just removed my makeup and the skin esthetician was going to try on our new oxygen facial machine.”
‘[But] As I was laying down, I got a severe headache.
‘My coworkers immediately sensed my urgency. At one point, I remember thinking, “This is it. I’m going to die.”
Ms. Guerra is shown above celebrating her birthday in Austin, Texas
She was released from rehab after 14 months when she said it was time to go home.
There was no replay of memories like in the movies. I didn’t think about what I could have done better. I was just in blinding pain.
Ms. Guerra said her vision went black and she urged her coworker to quickly call an ambulance.
“This is where my memory starts to fail me,” he said.
He started by learning how to move his fingers and toes again before moving on to the limbs. She is shown above learning to use the piano.
‘I knew I couldn’t see and I was terrified and crying. I heard a man say something reassuring.
“I can only assume it was something like, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got you,’ or, ‘You’re going to be fine.'”
“I remember thinking, ‘That’s sweet…he thinks he can help me. Little does he know I’m about to die.'”
While he was in a coma, doctors gave him modafinil, brand name Provigil, every six to eight hours to help stimulate his central nervous system and promote wakefulness.
At that time, a rash appeared on her face, which was later found to be because she was allergic to the medication.
But it worked, and the patient woke up from a coma three months later.
She was then released to a long-term acute care and acute rehabilitation facility in Dallas, where she spent four months working to regain her strength.
He would undergo 40 hours of therapy each week, before declaring it was time for him to come home.
In 2020, his family said in a GoFundMe that she had been working on learning how to put her contact lenses back in, get in and out of bed safely, and stand up on her own without assistance.
Ms Guerra pictured during her recovery from massive brain hemorrhage
Currently, he says his left side is not as stiff as his right as he continues to heal. He can talk again too, but still needs help with some sounds.
Her recovery continued at home, with Ms. Guerra working to regain her ability to speak and swallow.
Speaking of his motivation, he said, “Currently my left side still moves a lot easier than my right, but I don’t think it will be like that for long.”
‘I can talk quite a bit, I have speech therapy to help with certain sounds to make it more intelligible.
‘I will be 100 per cent. I said this since I could barely move.
‘My daughter needs me to be her mom again.
‘I have never believed anything so strongly.
‘I’m still the same person and I still have my memories (my brain injury did NOT affect my personality).
“I will continue my journey 100 percent, surrounded by people who love and support me.”
Megan also offered a message for others experiencing similar difficulties. “You can do anything and create the life you want,” she said.