My name is Wanda Hampton. I suffered a brain aneurysm in February of 2018. On that particular day, I had just finished my training at Sykes in Kingstree. I was preparing for bed that night, and I went to use the bathroom. When I got up from the bathroom, it felt like somebody took a sledgehammer and hit me in the back of my head. I went to Google and put in the symptoms because it was like an excruciating headache. I felt like I was about to pass out. I guess I had a panic attack because my heart started beating really fast. So, I started putting my symptoms into Google, which said it was a brain aneurysm.
I told my friend at the time that I thought I needed to go to the emergency room. So, I told him to call the emergency room because as I tried to look around, I started feeling and seeing blood on the inside draining from my head down. Everything started going dark, and then I felt like I started going deaf like all sound went away, and I told my friend to call my boys in the room because I have three kids and my two sons were at the house. While he went around to get them, I felt my neck tightening, and I couldn’t walk. I kept feeling like I was about to pass out and talking to myself like, “Don’t fall out; if you pass out, you’re not going to get back up.”
We were living out in the country then, so the ambulance took a while to get me. I had told my friend to call several times to see where they were. I spoke to my kids because I felt like that was about to be it, even though I was fighting it, and I told them I love them. Then, the ambulance finally came, and they took me to Tuomey in Sumter.
When I got to the hospital, they had me get off the stretcher and walk to the waiting room instead of taking me to a room. I sat in that waiting room, head hurting, about to pass out, body hurting for I’m not sure how long exactly. I had to use the bathroom, and my friend walked me to the back. We got permission from the people at the front, and he walked me back to the bathroom. I’m not sure how long I stayed in that bathroom. I know I was dizzy and disoriented, but like I said, I was fighting to keep it together. By the time I got out of the bathroom, I couldn’t go anymore. I couldn’t walk; it’s like I just stopped. I held on to the wall, and my friend held me up. A nurse came out of nowhere and asked if I was okay. My friend told her what was happening and what we thought was happening. She put me in a room that was nearby.
At this point, I was in excruciating pain, and by then, my kids had come back to the room. The lady at the front that I asked to use the bathroom came in and said rudely, “Oh, I thought you said you needed to use the bathroom?” or something to that effect. She asked if I was in pain and was trying to talk to my kids. I remember them saying they would give me something for the pain. The next thing I can remember is waking up to my skull cracking; that had to have been me going through my surgery. I was under anesthesia, but I was still fighting. I was fighting so hard to not leave this world; maybe that was why I noticed it happening. I remember it cracked, and I flinched and could hear a cracking noise. I remember I woke up, heard my cousin’s voice, and heard my aunt’s.
Then I started hearing my kid, and the very first thing that I remember after waking up from surgery I’m a Walking Dead fan, so I woke up, and I asked my sister what day was it or what time it was. She told me it was Monday, and I was like, “Oh my God! I missed The Walking Dead!” We just started laughing. When I started coming to, they started trying to explain to me where I was, what happened to me, and what was going on. Come to find out, I went there on a Friday, and I woke up that Monday. When I woke up, I had a tube hanging out my head where they drained the blood. I had to do physical therapy. I stayed in the ICU for 21 days in Columbia, Palmetto Richland. The doctors, the staff, and my doctor, Dr. Mangubat, took such good care of me. I spent a whole month in the hospital, and that was basically a whole month out of my kids’ lives. They were pretty young at that time; I believe they were in middle school. My sister and my mama made sure they were fine while I was trying to get better. It was a long road. Many people said I was a walking miracle, and I believe it because of everything I experienced. A lot of them tell me that I’m blessed to be here because a lot of people don’t make it. For me to be able to sit here and tell my story piece by piece and explain the things that led up to it like I was having eye aches before it actually burst. I thought, “Okay, well, maybe it’s just my blood pressure” because I ate a lot of pork. I was also feeling really tired, and little things told me something wasn’t right. I wasn’t paying attention to it, and I won’t say I could have prevented it from happening because everything happens for a reason. It was an experience, and my life has changed dramatically since then. I am an Air Force veteran. I went from being a hardworking single mom of three to being disabled, and that was hard and still is hard. I just keep going, and stopping is not an option. This occurred when I was 38 years old. Everybody said I was too young to have experienced that, but you never know what you will go through in life. You can’t put an age on anything. I never knew what a brain aneurysm was until it happened to me.
After I got home, I talked to a few friends. I am from Manning. I graduated in 1999. I spoke to a few friends and some people in the community about my experience. I told my story a little bit, but not like I felt I should because I genuinely believe my information and what I went through could help save a life one day or even just enlighten people. Like I said, I had no idea what it was until it happened to me. I am on disability after the fact, and I became really depressed. I still go through it, but I needed something to do. My creator allowed me to still have a sound mind.
I can deal with small things as I can walk, and I can take care of myself. I needed something to do because I was used to working, so my daughter told me about this app called TikTok. I was like, “Well, what do you do?” so she explained that you make videos, and I’m shy; I stay to myself, but something about it caught my attention. I was terrified. My first video, oh my goodness, I look at it now like, “Oh, wow.” When I first posted it, I was scared, but I got my first like on that video and was like, “Oh yeah, I can do this!” Somebody had laughed at my content, so I kept up with it and networking, talking to people worldwide.
I still had a lot going on. I had to go to the doctor and get stints and coils placed in my head, and I was still dealing with depression, so I wasn’t as consistent as I wanted. I’ve got my followers and fan base up to over 26,000 people, and it makes me feel good knowing that I’m making somebody else feel good or sharing information to help people or lift their spirits. Every year, I’ll do a video on my experience with my brain aneurysm and try to reach people who need to hear it. Ever since it happened, my most significant thing is that I wanted to talk to people and try to help people, but I didn’t know how. There is a lot behind a brain aneurysm; it was a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is a stroke on the brain, so a lot comes with it, and I am very blessed. The most important thing is that you don’t give up. You have to keep going.
If you would like to follow Wanda on TikTok, her handle is @finewine39, and she checks her DMs often for anyone who would like to know more about her story.
Before we ended our conversation, Wanda wanted readers to know this: Take care of yourselves. I don’t want to sit here and tell people what to do and what not to do; just take care of yourself and listen to your body. Don’t ignore things; headaches or eye aches are nothing to play with or push to the side. Go get checked out by a doctor.