A mother of three who suffered a brain haemorrhage while standing on an Enniskillen street thought she was going to die and remembers worrying about how her husband would cope alone with their girls.

Thankfully, Kerry Jennings, wife of leading rally driver Garry Jennings, survived the health scare and is back at her Kesh home with her husband and their daughters Jessica, (seven) Annie (three) and Emily (two).
It was Wednesday, November 8 and Kerry and Garry were in Enniskillen when she took a pain in her head.

“Within 30 seconds of the headache starting, I knew there was no going back from it,” Kerry told The Impartial Reporter. “I knew I was having a brain haemorrhage when it was happening because of the pain,” she said.

There were a number of police in the vicinity because of proceedings marking the 30th anniversary of the Enniskillen bomb. Kerry was taken into a nearby opticians, where staff wrapped her in a fur coat and gave her a basin because she had begun vomiting.

“I thought I was going to die there and then,” said Kerry. “I was thinking: ‘How is Garry going to manage our three wee girls on his own?’”
The policeman called her an ambulance and “within minutes,” she was in the South West Acute Hospital.

“I had lost power down one side, I had pins and needles and my mouth was funny. I couldn’t speak properly so the doctors in SWAH thought I was having a stroke,” Kerry recalled.

“They gave me morphine and I had a CT scan which showed a shadow on the back of my brain,” she outlined.
Around 3pm in the afternoon she suffered a second excruciating headache and lost power again.

Kerry later underwent a lumbar puncture, a medical procedure where a needle is inserted into the lower part of the spine to test for conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord or other parts of the nervous system. Samples of cerebrospinal fluid, which is usually a clear liquid, were taken from inside Kerry’s spine.
“The samples were all pink which meant there was blood in my spinal cord,” said Kerry. 
“They then knew it was a brain haemorrhage.”

Kerry explains that the first headache was when her blood vessels were swelling and the second was when they burst.

She was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital on the Thursday evening, where she underwent a cerebral angiography which uses a catheter, x-ray imaging guidance and an injection of dyes to examine blood vessels in the brain for abnormalities.

“A central line was inserted into my groin and they were able to go up to my brain. I was able to see my brain which was amazing,” Kerry recalled.
“They took 3D images and could see an abnormality on my brain but there was too much blood to fully identify it,” she added.
Kerry was kept in the Royal for a week to undergo another cerebral angiography.

She was treated with paracetamol and codeine drips every four hours and was observed every 30 minutes by doctors in the Royal’s Neurology Ward.
“I knew when I was going to the Royal that they would fix me and that I was going to the right place,” said Kerry. “But the entire time I was there, they were treating me as if I was going to have another bleed, so I was worried and on edge.”

During her second cerebral angiography procedure, Kerry was diagnosed with basilar fenestration, which means there is a duplication of a portion of the artery.
“The blood vessels divert in two and there’s a roundabout in the middle – that’s where the bleed happened,” Kerry explained.
Doctors reassured her that the bleed had sealed itself and that, although the area was weakened, there was only a seven per cent chance of it happening again.

“I was born with basilar fenestration and never knew. I’m glad I didn’t know because I would have worried my whole life. There were so many things I probably wouldn’t have done, like navigation. That’s how I met Garry. I have been in a few crashes in my life and they could have triggered it, but they didn’t,” said Kerry.

The 39 year old is reassured by fact there is only a seven per cent likelihood of suffering another haemorrhage because of the condition.
She was released from the Royal on Saturday and “couldn’t wait to get home to see my girls and to get some proper rest.”

She must rest a lot in order to allow her brain to recover from its ordeal.
“I am very tired. I can only watch TV or read for 30 minutes at a time because I need to rest my brain,” said Kerry.
“I get the girls up and ready for their day and then I go back to bed for a while,” she explained.
Looking ahead, Kerry is anticipating “a very special Christmas” at home. 
She concluded: “You just never know.”