She’s best known for her roles in The Brothers and Booty Call, but it’s the role she plays in educating people about the risk of aneurysms in young people that Tamala Jones values most. Fourteen years after she suffered a ruptured aneurysm in her brain, the actress opened up to BlackEnterprise.com about her near-death experience. She was just 23 at the time, and had no idea that the massive headache she woke up with one day was an indication of a potentially fatal malady.
“[I woke] up one morning with a massive headache; feeling like I had to use the bathroom, like I had to urinate really bad. When I got out of bed I had no balance. I was walking on my toes and I was stomping. When I got to the bathroom, I plopped down on the toilet. I had no control over my body weight. And when I couldn’t go I was like, Oh, my God, I just had to pee really bad and now I don’t have to. Then, I got up because my head was hurting, and I looked in the mirror and I’m telling you two seconds after I looked in that mirror I dropped and hit the floor.”
Jones somehow dragged herself to work on the set of For Your Love, before heading to the hospital. “I went to the hospital after work and the doctor thought that it was a miracle that I was even alive, walking or talking, or that I even worked an entire day before I got to him. After that, I started having seizures. I had MRIs [and] cat scans, and they found out that my aneurysm actually burst. Had it been on another side of my brain I probably would have been paralyzed forever — it was on the left side of my brain and was the size of a 50-cent piece. They said once that blood dried up I would get my feeling back.”
Jones kept her condition under wraps throughout her slow, three-month recovery, and beyond. But now she’s speaking up to help other young people detect problems before they affect their health in a big way. “I hid the fact that I had an aneurysm for a very long time. I was embarrassed and I just felt like no one needed to know because it made me look weak. Who would of thought someone my age, at 23, had a brain aneurysm? ... [But] once you get older and you’re in your 30s, all that stuff that doesn’t matter so much in your 20s starts to matter. I had headaches for like three weeks. I took everything, and nothing helped — from sinus medicine to migraine medicine. I say that if you get it checked out right away when you have this headache and it’s continuously going and nothing works then you can save yourself. They can give you something to help you or they can remove it or whatever they need to do. But I felt like it was my duty as a survivor to speak about it.… Whether it’s your heart or your head or your legs or your arms, if it’s too much pain, the doctor’s the only place to go. Not staying at home and wondering if this is ever going to go away. I just thought it was selfish of me not to even say what I survived or what I felt.”
Find out more about brain aneurysm on the Brain Aneurysm Foundation’s website.
BET.com is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.
(Photo: Brian Dowling/PictureGroup)