WADSWORTH, Ohio - When Jill Renee Hill woke up on an October morning in 2013, she knew something was wrong. The right side of her face felt numb. A former nurse, Hill, 43, wondered if she was having a stroke.
Still, she remained focused on the job she had grown to love since 2009, working as a realtor for Howard Hannah.
She arrived at an open house in Bath Township and explained the weird numbness to a mortgage lender.
"I even asked her, I said, 'Does the right side of my face look different than the left side because it feels funny?' She said, 'No.'"
But the next day, the numbness spread to her right hand and right leg and Hill checked herself into an Akron hospital.
"They did the MRI and came back in and said, 'You have a brain bleed,'" Hill said.
Doctors advised her that the bleed was in an area where surgery could not be performed. Hopefully, she was told, the bleeding would stop if it was just left alone.
"The thought of having something in my brain that could bleed at anytime was very, very stressful."
After a few days passed, Jill's symptoms worsened. She struggled with double vision and decided to seek a second opinion.
Cleveland Clinic neurologist Dr. Andrew Bauer said essentially Hill was dealing with a hemorrhage in the middle of her brain and it was worrisome.
"The concern was that if she had another hemorrhage, what types of deficits could she have?" Dr. Bauer explained.
Asked if this type of medical condition can be fatal," Dr. Bauer said, "Generally not, but it can be because it can affect breathing and even things like vital signs."
Accessing the deepest part of the brain can be difficult, according to Dr. Bauer, but he told Hill that surgery was an option.
He recommended a delicate procedure in which the patient sits straight up.
"In order to get the lower part of the brain, the cerebellum, kind of out of the way and be able to access this area, we used gravity to our advantage and kept her in the sitting position such that the lower part of the brain can kind of sink down and we can move over the top of it," Dr. Bauer said.
Bauer said he has performed that type of surgery only 10 to 20 times out of hundreds of patients.
Hill signed her living will before the surgery and reminded doctors that her two children needed her to return to them.
"The surgery to me seemed worth it, but I was extremely nervous," Hill said.
The procedure was a success with Dr. Bauer removing a blueberry-sized lesion from Hill's brain.
Since that time, the numbness has been greatly reduced. In addition, Hill said she surprisingly no longer has migraine headaches. Prior to the surgery, Hill estimated she had three to six migraines a month.
"When obstacles come in my way now, I sit back and say, 'I've had brain surgery. I can do anything,'" Hill said.
Dr. Bauer said Hill's first inclination was correct. She did have a form of a stroke.
He said what happened to the outgoing realtor should make all of us aware of possible warning signs.
"Anytime you're having neurologic symptoms, be that double vision, sensory disturbance, weakness of one arm or one leg, you want to seek treatment."