By Nelson Groom
An office worker was given a mullet hairstyle to save her life after two near-deadly brain aneurysms left her with 44 staples in her head.
Australian Sara Bedford was working as a marketing assistant when she suffered a severe headache and collapsed in agony four years ago.
Hours later, the 35-year-old was fighting for her life in hospital as doctors operated on a ruptured aneurysm – only to find another one on the other side of her brain.
After four gruelling hours of surgery, Sara began a long 16-month road to recovery from the little understood brain disorder that is deadly in more than half of cases.
But she struggled to come to terms with the retro mullet hairstyle doctors had inflicted on her to save her life after her head was shaved for the operation and struggled with chronic fatigue and depression.
But fighter Sara later used her battle as inspiration to launch the world’s first mullet competition in her current hometown of Kurri Kurri in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley last month – propelling the struggling country town to global fame.
Sara said: “I was sitting at my desk when I got this sudden headache. I tried to reach down and pop a Panadol, but I couldn’t get back up.
“Next thing I couldn’t talk or move, but luckily someone noticed me on the floor and took me to the hospital. It was by far the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.
“I had almost no warning, they shaved part of my head and found one ruptured aneurism and another one that was set to blow, so I underwent two craniotomies.
“It was a long week in there. It was surreal, because I was drifting in and out and every time I opened my eyes someone else was there.
“I wasn’t overly impressed about having a mullet, I’d never wanted one and my hair takes so long to grow back, but I was so thankful to actually be able to be around to enjoy it.
“I had to start using headbands to keep it hidden until it was long enough to be a fringe.”
After the operation, Sara was left chronically fatigued and battling depression as she readjusted to life after the near-death experience.
Doctors told her the aneurysms had been triggered by hereditary conditions including high blood pressure and blood cholesterol.
Sara’s experience inspired her to join forces with schoolfriend Laura Johnson last year to dream up the world’s first mullet competition.
The event grabbed headlines all over the planet when it was held last month and as well as helping to save the embattled town of Kurri Kurri, the festival served as a fundraiser for a brain aneurysm charity close to Sara’s heart.
Sara said: Sara said: “When doctors operated on the aneurysms it was an emergency surgery, so I had no preparation. Fatigue was the biggest thing afterwards, I was constantly tired.
“I could only do stuff around the house for about half an hour before I needed to lay down and have a nap. This starts to take a toll on your emotions too.
“Having had an aneurysm is part of who I am now. I am trying to make it become a positive part, and if we help someone else then that’s a win.
“Last year, I was speaking with my friend Laura about an idea for an event at, and we came up with the idea of a mullet festival.
“Mullets are popular in Kurri because they are different, they have character. Its a way to show something about yourself that is individual.
“I decided this was a great opportunity to increase awareness about aneurisms without getting too dark about the topic.
“I have only ever had a mullet once in my life! Never by choice.
“Considering how passionate some people are about their mullets, talking about mine might have hit home with some of them.
“It’s hard to make light of someone suddenly nearing death, not everyone is as lucky as me.”