Annie Ayerst has been in the recruiting and HR field for more than twenty years. We met through a client relationship and she became a repeat customer of The Newman Group shortly after moving to Orange County, CA to join The Irivne Company as the Senior Director of Staffing. She was one of those customers you loved to have, because when a problem arose there was never any guesswork as to who was doing what to whom. She would cut through all the politics and just tell you like it is. She was also one of the hardest working clients we had ever known.
About four years ago I had heard from one of our consultants that Annie fell ill at work and had to be hospitalized. It was the kind of thing where the symptoms pointed to a brain tumor. Turned out to be an aneurysm, but it took them quite a while to figure it out. She remained in the hospital for an extended period of time, out on disability.
I remember thinking to myself that this was not good. I always try to maintain positive thoughts, but we have heard this story before. Even if she recovered, I assumed there would have to be some irreparable damage. I had lost touch with the situation and had not heard any updates in years.
A couple of weeks ago at the ERE Expo in San Diego, I bumped into Annie at one of the receptions. I was blown away. She did not only look good, she looked fantastic, better than ever. She filled me in on the rest of the story, here it is in her own words:
……I just recently celebrated the 3 year anniversary of my brain surgery. I suffered a brain aneurysm that ruptured and filled my head with blood. I was in ICU for almost a month until they could figure out the source of the bleed. It wasn’t for another 6 months, countless MRIs and CT scans that they could locate the source of the bleed and operate. I had a 10 hour surgery and came out with 43 staples on the back of my head. When you survive an incident like this, you are thankful for the many blessings in your life and the simple ones, like health. I was never a great athlete or even an active one for that matter. I decided to create a bucket list of things I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to do a triathlon and run a marathon. I first had to learn how to swim. I slowly started working my way to recovery and health along with my training. The long distances and heat would trigger migraines so I had to pace my body.
I was able to have some procedures done to decrease the pain and increase my distance. I was then able to train harder and longer and on my way to my marathon goal. I completed my first half marathon on October 2011, Long Beach. I was bitten! I have since completed 5 half marathons and one full marathon. I did the Long Beach in 3:20 and my last half was 2:16 a couple of weeks ago. I just qualified for the Half Marathon Fanatics Club so I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
I try to inspire others by coaching a group at my church (Salem Lutheran) called “The Goal Line”. We help people accomplish a goal, whether it be their first triathlon, half marathon or 5k. Running has saved my life just as much as my surgery. It has brought me an incredibly healthy lifestyle, the ability to connect with people and a passion for life that I never had before.
And I can tell you from the time I spent with Annie in San Diego, her passion for life is transparent and contagious. We talked a little bit and discovered that we are both in a similar situations. Considering what will be the next chapter in our professional lives. I hope that whatever we end up doing, I will have the opportunity to work with her again.
If you have ever felt down and out about anything trivial, think of this story and count your blessings.