Neighbor Highlight: Hampton grad’s e book chronicles journey via mind surgical procedure and restoration
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When Heather Rendulic began suffering from a series of cerebral hemorrhages in 2011 that would require dangerous surgery to remove the mass causing them, the then 22-year-old Hampton woman set her sights on achieving two simple things if she wanted to survive – walking down the island, carrying her bouquet and dancing with her new husband at the wedding reception.
Redulic, 31, not only survived to achieve these goals, but did the work of her life to help others who face challenges she believes have made her stronger.
“Not everyone will have a stroke that requires brain surgery,” said Rendulic, a 2008 Hampton High School graduate. And while we can not control what happens to us, we have control over the way we react to the situations we face. “
Rendulic, who now lives in Shaler, has documented her journey in a book entitled “Head Strong: Through Life, Love and Brain Surgery”.
“As a result of strokes and surgery, I now have things that will affect me for the rest of my life,” he said. “So I hope the book will give other people some of the tools and mentality I tried to develop to help me get over what I had to deal with.”
Redulic said doctors thought she was suffering from a “cavernous angioma” deep in her brain.
A cavernous angioma is a complex of weak blood vessels that can cause seizures or bleeding. In her case, she was in her chamber near the brain stem.
While the doctors doubted she could walk as a result of the surgery to save her life, she was determined to prove them wrong.
“I spent months in rehabilitation and treatment to learn how to walk again,” he said. “And I do not use my left hand, which was a fight, but I do it.”
Redulic said she also has to have regular brain tests to monitor her condition and has undergone a number of surgeries in recent years to try to improve her quality of life.
“The image of my life since I was a child suddenly collapses and burns when I was diagnosed,” he said. “But from the beginning, I was determined to get over what I was facing. So I wake up every day ready to fight hard to do this. “
While Rendulic is able to do many of the things she enjoys, she can no longer pursue her passion for horseback riding and racing in hunting and jumping with Darius, a 30-year-old Belgian Warmblood.
“I was able to drive a few times, but when I tried a barren race, I fell from Darius and broke my arm in two places. “That’s why I decided it was time to close the staples,” he said.
Darius now lives on a farm in Butler County where Redulic can visit.
Dr. Robert M. Friedlander, president of the Department of Neurological Surgery at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital, said Redulic’s positive approach to the challenges he faces is an integral part of a successful recovery.
“I tell my patients that 50% of the recovery process is controlled by their positive attitude, their strong desire to do their best,” Friedlander wrote on the front page of Rendulic’s book. “I should not have said that to Heather. He was all in and he was going to do whatever it took to meet this challenge. He definitely did. “
Friedland said Redulic’s “surprisingly positive attitude, even against countless odds” was inspiring.
“Her story, in her own words, will give strength to many others who face adversity. What an excitement he sees Heather sharing her soul, her private life, through this inspirational book. “
In the years since her life-saving surgery, Rendulic graduated from Indiana University in Indiana and hopes to use her book as the foundation for a public speaking career.
“I would like to work full time helping people looking for ways to overcome the difficulties they face,” he said.
“I believe that the things I have learned to deal with my problems could be useful to them. I want to help people know that they have the power to overcome their challenges. “
Tony LaRussa is the author of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, [email protected] or via Twitter.
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