ALLIANCE, Ohio (WJW)- The road to recovery has been long for Kertisha Brabson.
“Starting to get back to normal,” she said. “It’s been rough.”
The 31-year-old mother of two was in the prime of her life in the summer of 2018 when it took an unexpected turn.
She started feeling sick, suffering from anxiety and had trouble speaking.
“I just didn't know what was going on inside of my body. I knew something was wrong. I just didn't know exactly what was wrong,” Kertisha said.
With no diagnosis, Kertisha was admitted to a local hospital, began having seizures and, within days, went into a coma.
“It was crazy because her body was deteriorating right in front of your eyes,” said her mother, Kertease Williams. “That's your child, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, and that was really heartbreaking.”
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic eventually diagnosed Kertisha with Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis, a rare autoimmune disease that can affect the brain. The disease was featured in the book and Netflix film Brain on Fire.
“I cried every night because I didn't know, was I going to lose my daughter? Was I going to bring her home?” Kertease said.
As days turned to months and holidays passed by, Kertisha remained in a coma, having up to 20 seizures a day. Her mom said she was transferred several times, including to a nursing home.
“They were talking about ‘pull the plug, she's brain dead,’ and I wouldn't do it,” Kertease said.
Kertease finally had her daughter transferred to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus where the neurocritical team tried more treatments.
“We never gave up on her,” said neurocritical care physician Dr. Shraddha Mainali, who was one of the doctors caring for Brabson during her 4-month stay in the ICU there.
She needed a ventilator and a feeding tube to keep her alive. Kertisha was given immunosuppression drugs and steroids to try to treat the encephalitis, along with medications and treatments to try to reduce the seizures.
“I was asking God, just give me a sign, please tell me what to do, don't tell me I'm about to lose my baby,” Kertease said.
Finally, in April, Kertisha woke up from the coma after seven months.
“I just was shocked and just appalled that I literally had been asleep for seven months, and then I just woke up out of nowhere,” she said.
At first, she was confused and didn’t even recognize her own family members. Since then, she has steadily improved. After rehabilitation and therapy, she returned home to Alliance in August.
Kertease said she moved in with Kertisha to help as she continues to recover, and Kertisha’s short-term memory is improving.
Kertisha said she has a new appreciation for life. She’s grateful for the doctors who cared for her and the family members who never gave up on her.
“It's a miracle that I'm here,” she said.