Airdrie resident and neurosurgical nurse Pauline Taylor hopes the upcoming fifth annual Bowling for Brains in Calgary will raise both funds and awareness for brain aneurysms.
“There’s not a lot of awareness there for aneurysm,” she said. “There’s very few support groups in the whole of Canada – there’s actually only three. Calgary is the only [city] in Alberta that has a support group.”
Taylor’s passion for the cause of brain aneurysm awareness goes beyond her work in the medical profession. After suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm in May 2015, Taylor, herself, became a patient on the unit where she works.
As an aneurysm survivor, Taylor said she believes information about aneurysms is not publicized enough. According to Taylor, one in 50 people are unaware they may be walking around with an aneurysm.
“Fifty per cent of people who rupture an aneurysm don’t even make it to a hospital,” she said.
Additionally, of those who do survive an aneurysm, 30 per cent are left with long-term deficits.
“Personally, it took me 16 months to get back to work,” Taylor said. “I did go back to work on my unit, so I do talk to a lot of aneurysm patients.”
The main symptom of a brain aneurysm is a thunderclap headache, according to Taylor – a sudden headache that is unbearably painful, often described as the worst headache a person has ever experienced. If someone experiences that symptom, Taylor said, it’s vital they get to an emergency department as soon as possible.
Individuals with a family history of aneurysms or high blood pressure are more prone to aneurysms, Taylor said. Screening is available for those individuals.
Bowling for Brains – which will take place at National on 10th Avenue in Calgary, Nov. 10 from 3 to 8 p.m. – is a great way for people to learn more about aneurysms while also having fun, according to Taylor. The event is organized by a group of aneurysm survivors, who will be available to chat about their experiences.
“The survivors will be wearing special T-shirts,” Taylor said. “That way, if people want to know more about survivors or about aneurysms, they can approach anybody.”
The event – which, along with bowling, will feature food and both live and silent auctions – raises funds for Dr. Alim Mitha’s aneurysm research at the University of Calgary. Last year’s event generated $32,000, and the fundraiser has raised $92,000 since its inception. Taylor said the event has also grown steadily in size, year by year.
“Initially, it was a small event,” she said. “Gradually, over the course of the last four years…we’ve had to move it to a bigger venue.”
Tickets for Bowling for Brains cost $25, and are available at bowlingforbrainsyyc.ca