In 2018, Ilonka discovered by coincidence during an unrelated medical assessment that she had an aneurysm in her brain that was high risk of rupturing. She was told that if the aneurysm were to rupture she would instantly die, and the longer she waited, the higher the risk would be. Surgery was the only chance, other than living in constant fear and anxiety about when and if her life would suddenly end. This was a very difficult choice for Ilonka because she feared such an invasive procedure and what it could mean for her mind if she were to survive it. She didn’t want to risk her memory or mind being affected by the surgery, but after many months of consideration, she knew that the risk was far less than to carry on living as a ticking time bomb, as she would say.
Ilonka went in for surgery on March 14, 2019 and the aneurysm was successfully clamped and no longer poses a risk of rupturing. However, unfortunately, Ilonka has suffered some form of brain damage, as well as possible mini strokes during her surgery. Her character and personality is as vivacious as ever and when we thought all hope was lost, she made miraculous progress overnight from being constrained to the hospital bed (due to her very valiant attempts to escape!) and very unresponsive to suddenly talking a mile a minute.
She thankfully seems to recall long term memory and her family but is struggling with remembering things on a short term basis, basic day to day and world knowledge, and even sometimes forgets the existence of people in her life or events that have happened before her hospital stay. Perhaps luckily for her, she has no memory of how or why she is in the hospital, or the events leading up to it. Her vision has also unfortunately suffered, and she reports seeing through a tunnel, sometimes double, and sometimes very blurry or not at all. She sees events and items that others do not in her peripheral vision. This has been very jarring for her, and she seems to understand that this experience is her own and not shared by those around her.
We hope and pray she will continue to make progress as the days and weeks go by. As everything is so fragile where the brain is involved, it is unclear where it will go from here. During her recovery, Ezio will need as much support as possible. This has inevitably taken a toll on him and he struggles to cope without his partner in crime. When Ilonka was initially diagnosed with having a brain aneurysm, after a build up of anxiety about the difficult choice ahead, she eventually had to leave work to protect her mental health and live as stress free as possible. Today, it is very unlikely she will return to work and will need constant care until her memory improves, as she does not remember basic common items like hair brushes, cell phones, or even her own home and what it looks like. For her safety, she will need close monitoring even after returning home from the hospital.
Ezio works tirelessly to support the family and may not be able to take extended leave from work if he hopes to continue to support them as he always had. This campaign is to assist him with the costs of Ilonka’s care, the abundance of hospital parking tickets which add up to a small fortune very quickly, and to assist him in taking over all the roles Ilonka used to manage. This is not something Ezio, or even Ilonka, would ever ask for themselves. Their pride is too strong, but their family has noticed the stress and struggles they are facing and will face in the months to come. Anything helps, even just the knowledge of your well wishes. If you are not able to make a financial contribution, we would greatly appreciate sharing this message with those in your circle to reach as many as possible in this difficult time.
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