Despite the life-changing events of a sudden brain aneurysm and stroke, a young woman defies the odds and learns to run again. The incredible and awe-inspiring story of Makayla Mayo and her family. Written by Mel Charbonneau, co-founder of Fellow Flowers. Photography by Heather Krakora, of Krakora Studios.
By all accounts, Makayla Mayo is a medical miracle.
At the age of 18, just three weeks after graduating high school in Gwinn, Michigan, in 2013, Makayla suffered a sudden grade 4 brain aneurysm. Grade 5 is the worst, and statistically, even to survive her circumstances, the doctors prepared her parents, Tina and Tom, for the possibility of severe brain damage and paralysis.
It started with a severe headache, which soon led to slurred speech. In realizing something was truly wrong, Tina and Tom rushed her to Marquette General Hospital. Tina, a practicing nurse, recalls the laundry list of predictable questions a parent is asked when they bring a disoriented teenager into the emergency room.
“Honestly, I remember frustration,” she said. “I knew my child, and I knew something was very wrong, and I had to say it over and over and over again.”
And then, two hours after arriving, Makayla suffered a three and half minute grand mal seizure. For Tina, it is still hard to put into words what she felt in those moments.
“I just remember seeing her slip away, and all I could tell her was ‘It’s OK, it’s OK.’”