Michelle's Story


“I am determined!” 

Michelle’s Story: The doctor returned to surgery to try one last thing…and it worked

As told by parents, Vince and Laura

Michelle nearly died. A marathon runner and a television journalist, she began having joint pain, fatigue, night sweats, and terrible headaches. She knew something wasn’t right and sought treatment right away. When her vision became greatly affected, things accelerated. After a battery of tests, we learned she had Infective Endocarditis. Despite antibiotics and a brief hospital stay, Michelle’s condition deteriorated one night. An emergency CT scan showed a ruptured brain aneurysm, and she was airlifted to ThedaCare.

Dr. Bhattacharjee removed a softball-sized portion of her skull to create room for the swollen brain. Three hours into surgery, he spoke with us saying they had done all they could and expectations were survivability. But just five minutes later, he returned to say things had taken a bad turn and we should prepare ourselves. In the meantime, he returned to surgery to try one last thing…and it worked.

Michelle was in an induced coma for a week and on life support. Slowly, she began to regain movement and responsiveness, and entered therapy. She continues intensive therapy, making incredible progress. Her goal is to return to broadcasting and pursue motivational speaking. Through it all, the ThedaCare staff has shown us compassion, care, and technical skills that are far and away superior to any we’ve experienced.