A Christmas Gift- Aneurysm Plus 15: December 25, 2013

Fifteen years is almost a lifetime ago. Amy Ofenbeck was only 26 when she suffered a devastating aneurysm burst. In the years since she’s undergone eight brain surgeries. Now 43, Ofenbeck is proof that a survivor never quits.

“Absolutely, you just always have to look forward, that’s what I found out. That’s what I try and do. I can’t look back and think what could have been or what would have been,” says Ofenbeck.

Ofenbeck was a successful TV news anchor, which is why she seemed familiar to many in Southwest Florida. When she shared her recovery with us last spring, people listened.

“A lot of people said ‘boy I didn't know you’d been through all of that’ which kind of surprised me,” says Ofenbeck.

Life looks differently now, and so does Ofenbeck. She’s worked hard to get her life and health in shape.

“I’ve lost 23 pounds I think, so that’s good. I’m working out as much as I can which is maybe four or five times a week,” says Ofenbeck.

An aneurysm is an out-pouching or ballooning of a blood vessel. As it expands, the skin thins and in rare occasions it bursts. When it happens in the brain, the result is catastrophic.

“When we’re talking specifically brain aneurysms, our biggest concern is hemorrhage. Forty percent of people who have a brain aneurism die before they get to the hospital,” says Dr. Gary Correnti, neurosurgeon on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Her body damaged, Ofenbeck’s spirit took over, pushing her through therapy.

“There’s an enormous difference between somebody that will work at home and do what needs to be done, opposed to somebody who comes into therapy two or three times a week, works for 45 minutes goes home sits in a chair and does absolutely nothing,” says Abe Abarbanel, neurodevelopment therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.

The years of hard work are paying off- with strength comes confidence and now a turning point for Ofenbeck. This Christmas, it’s not what she’s getting, but what she’s giving away. The safety net she’s clung to for years. Her cane.

“Yeah, I’m ready to say goodbye to it. I’m hoping to put a bow on it and give it to my husband for Christmas,” says Ofenbeck.

A gift more than a dozen years in the making. And proof that healing never ends.