Source: Bergen Record -


River Vale Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi is home recovering from surgery to treat a brain aneurysm and is expected to be sidelined from state politics “for a while,” she said.

Schepisi, 43, became aware of the aneurysm in March when she began showing symptoms of “neurological distress,” which peaked late one night.

“I woke up, jumped out of bed and told my husband it felt like my brain exploded, like a gun went off in my head,” she said.

Schepisi said she turned to the Internet and typed “My brain just exploded” into Google. After reading several articles, she determined that she exhibited symptoms of an aneurysm, and two days later drove herself to Hackensack University Medical Center, where doctors confirmed her diagnosis. She then visited four doctors for recommendations for treatment.

Schepisi underwent a roughly five-hour procedure Tuesday called a craniotomy with a clipping, in which a six-inch, crescent-shaped incision was made from the middle of her hair part-line to behind her ear and a surgeon inserted a titanium clip around the aneurysm, which is the swelling of a blood vessel in the brain, which can be fatal.

The craniotomy is a “permanent fix,” she said. “Now there should be no risk of rupture.”

The surgery was performed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, but was originally planned for late June or early July so Schepisi, a Republican, could participate in legislative committees and voting sessions before a summer break. Schepisi, who ran for election two weeks after having a Caesarean section to deliver her second child, said she “has been a bit of a workaholic and I do have a tendency to push myself, even when I’m ill.”

But when she had an episode in which she started blacking out at home several weeks ago, Schepisi pushed the surgery up to this week. She was discharged Thursday afternoon.

Schepisi is expected to stay at home recovering for the next six to eight weeks, and doctors told her she is limited to walking but no exercise. The surgery has caused some swelling and bruising on her face, she said, so “it looks like I survived a round in an MMA cage fight.”

And since the surgery also included inserting titanium into her skull, Schepisi and her husband, Paul, now share something new in common. Around the time she discovered the aneurysm, Paul Schepisi was convalescing from a skiing accident in which he fractured his collarbone and had steel plates inserted to realign the bone.

“It’ll be interesting the next time we go through an airport checkpoint,” Holly Schepisi said.