Once an aneurysm is found, it requires a careful evaluation by a specialist who understands the risk an aneurysm could pose to the patient. With my in-laws watching the baby, my mom, dad, and husband could be with me the entire time. My mother had been harassing me for years to just go get checked to be safe. Repair of a Ruptured Aneurysm. "She experienced that headache two or three times a week over about four weeks and we completely dismissed it," Crawford said. During surgical treatment the ability to simultaneously visualize and assess the anatomical structures and blood flow is one of the biggest challenges of neurovascular surgery. I was only on the heavy narcotics for about two weeks before I decided to stop and switch to Tylenol. Of course, I was bombarded with horror stories of death, loss of brain function, paralysis, loss of vision and hearing, etc. I couldn’t believe this serious decision was mine to make. "It's kind of like the neurological equivalent of sudden cardiac death," said Elkind, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University in New York City. If you hesitate or put it off, you may not be around to see your family again.". He asked me about my boo-boo, but overall wasn’t too fazed. Henry Moyle. Plus, I didn’t really want that negative attention surrounding me. Life seemed to be going perfectly. After a few weeks of letting the news process, I decided to go out of town to the Penn Medicine Department of Neurosurgery for a second opinion. The support I received from my family, friends and my doctors was second to none. We also lost two other family members over the years, and we have five family members surviving with aneurysms that are either being monitored, or that have been corrected. One week later, my whole world was turned upside-down. After treatment for an unruptured brain aneurysm, people tend to return to … Coiling is a process where they insert a catheter into the femoral artery in the groin, feed the catheter up to the brain, and feed small coils into the aneurysm in order to cut off blood flow and allow the aneurysm to clot. "A bunch of bad things could come from it.". Me with my husband and my son, only 5 months after the surgery. I am extremely fortunate to have wonderful in-laws that brought my son to Philadelphia with them, where they stayed for the entire week, so he could be close to me. I can’t imagine what it would have been like if people were constantly asking me how I was feeling or if they were taking pity on me for my circumstances. A lot of people might be happy with that choice, but I would have preferred if he just told me, one way or another, what I had to do. I could not believe this decision was mine to make. Preparing myself for a brain surgery, I was expecting the absolute worst. The diagnosis came upon my life very unexpectedly. It is not possible for a brain aneurysm to cause any symptoms unless there is a rupture. I was on an IV and a catheter. Saturday: 9AM - 5PM CST *Red Dress ™ DHHS, Go Red ™ AHA ; National Wear Red Day® is a registered trademark. My in-laws didn’t bring my son to see me until the sixth day in the hospital because I was afraid that I would scare him. Choice 1: I could continue to monitor my aneurysms every six months for the rest of my life to see if they changed in shape or size, ultimately deciding whether or not to operate down the road. The second they wheeled me away and my family was out of sight, I started to come undone. My husband said the first question I asked when I woke up was, “Do I look like Ronda Rousey?” He knew instantly everything was alright; at least I still had my sense of humor. "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. After eight weeks, I was able to drive again. However, in case of an unruptured aneurysm, with the size is large, individuals can feel pain due to the occasional pressing of the bulge of the artery of the blood vessel against the tissues or nerves present in the brain. Thankfully, they allowed my mom to come with me. The group has launched two public service announcements, the latest featuring Whoopi Goldberg, whose brother died from a brain aneurysm. National Center Thankfully I have an extremely supportive family to assist me with the baby. Waiting for the results from the angiogram was brutal. "Aneurysm coils are like tiny threads of platinum that, when placed inside an aneurysm sac, look much like a ball of yarn," Dr. Ringer explains. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org. The thing that terrified me the most was that in order to save my own life – when I was feeling no symptoms and my life seemed to be going perfectly – I had to have a surgery that could leave me with lingering side effects for life. Having the support of my family and friends made it effortless! I had a rupture in 2006 and that was coiled and then in 2011 a 2nd one was discovered and that was clipped (un-ruptured) in January, 2014. Life seemed to be going perfectly. Read Jennifer’s story and learn to recognize the signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm. Make sure you have a good support system at home. 4 out of 7 people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities. The brain aneurysm community may seem small, but if you have been impacted in some way, whether you are a survivor, caregiver, friend, or have lost someone to an aneurysm, you start to realize how many people are impacted and that the community is unfortunately greater than you realized. My great-grandmother had also suffered a fatal brain aneurysm at the age of 31. Choice 3: My third option would be to face this head on and go in for the surgery to correct the problem. We only worry about them when they get large enough to cause a problem." A physical therapist came to my house weekly for about a month until I was released from his care. He explained how it depends more on how thin the wall of the aneurysm is, rather than the size, and you cannot determine how thin the walls are by any scan. All Rights Reserved. "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. "When done vascularly, there's the concern whether it'll grow back again, but it's a less-invasive procedure.". He also did not have a size in mind for when aneurysms are typically known to rupture. Known for being one of the best neurosurgery programs in the country, I knew I was in good hands. Ten days after surgery, I had my staples removed at home by my nurse. They had to sedate me to calm me down. I had zero symptoms. It truly is amazing how one second could change your entire outlook on life. He was extremely confident that it would go very well, considering my age and state of well being; but he still had to explain the risks. After speaking at length about my two aneurysms, he explained that one was only measuring 2mm so we would simply monitor it because the chance of rupture was slim, but there were options for my second aneurysm and the choice was mine. Unruptured saccular aneurysms less than 10 mm in diameter have a very low probability of subsequent rupture. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation Brain aneurysms are also not rare—one in every 50 people, or about 6.5 million people in the US have an unruptured brain aneurysm. It is estimated that one in 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm in the US, according to the Brain aneurysm foundation. Other warning signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm include all sorts of suddenly arising sensations: a loud, booming noise (like a gunshot) heard only by the patient; sensitivity to light; neck stiffness; pain around an eye; vision problems; numbness or tingling in the face; and more. About 40% of people who have a ruptured brain aneurysm will die as a result. Once I changed my part and my hair started to grow back, no one could even tell I had just gone through this surgery. This would be a very invasive surgery and would involve months of recovery time with many risks involved, but would completely correct the problem and I would no longer have this ticking time bomb in my brain. "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. They are trained professionals and they will take great care of you. Treatment options include observation, clipping, coiling, flow diversion, or bypass. See full terms of use. The question is, how much. Bad days don’t really happen often for me anymore, because I know things could always be worse. At support group meetings, most often … Continue reading "Personal Stories" Changing lives through innovative research. And for that, I am grateful. The recommendation is made depending on the estimated likelihood of the aneurysm to rupture, as well as the age and general health of the patient. An unruptured brain aneurysm may produce no symptoms, particularly if it's small. We were able to joke and laugh and distract ourselves from what was about to happen. Due to my family history, he strongly felt that we needed to take care of the aneurysm. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately. I was 29 years old, recently married, and had only just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. The extent of these issues depends on the degree of bleeding when an aneurysm bursts. I received the news via email. I had a slight headache here and there, but the hospital staff was wonderful and did their best to keep me out of pain. Hours Since I was given this second chance at life, with the knowledge I had, I decided to have the surgery. On Oct 2, 2013 I was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm. Medical studies show the risk of a brain aneurysm rupturing is quite low. My post-surgery incision the day I got moved to the hospital room and they unwrapped my head. "While still a good way to treat an aneurysm without resorting to open brain surgery, coils may shift over time, allowing an aneurysm to regrow. Since you too are pretty young at 37 and it good overall physical health it would seem they are giving us similar suggestions due to our hopeful long life expectancy. They would place one or more clips on the aneurysm in order to cut off blood flow. Read Jennifer’s story and learn to recognize the signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm. Many unruptured brain aneurysms are found due to neurological symptoms caused by the size of the aneurysm. 7272 Greenville Ave. However, Elkind emphasized the difference between having a brain aneurysm and having one rupture. Watch his story through diagnosis and treatment. Customer Service Unauthorized use prohibited. That’s when I decided I wanted to share my story. My husband would come over every night after work and have dinner with us. What started out as migraine headaches turned into a fight for survival. But when the bubble bursts, blood rushes into the brain, which can cause severe damage, even death. If we cut off the blood flow all together, which would most likely happen with coiling, there was a great chance that I would lose all vision in my left eye. The doctor explained that coiling is only a temporary fix and I would probably need to go back a few times in my lifetime to add more coils as the aneurysm grows or changes in shape. Today marks one year since I was diagnosed with two unruptured brain aneurysms. The Bee Foundation 303 West Lancaster Avenue #334 Wayne, PA 19087, USA. That is about 1 in 50 people. Discussions By Condition: Medical Stories. ©2021 American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved. By Jaime Aron, American Heart Association News. At that point, as with the water pipe break analogy, there's going to be damage. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. I calmly went for the scan and walked out of the appointment thinking nothing of it. Not all views expressed in American Heart Association News stories reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. rene’s story brain aneurysm survivor Rene is an energetic, passionate 7th grade teacher—and he was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. I consider myself especially lucky. It was tiring at first, but it made me feel more like myself again to get up and move around. Since my surgery I feel like I have been given a whole new lease on life. It was much less invasive than a craniotomy and it would be a temporary fix that I could handle one step at a time. After thoroughly investigating Dr. Zager, I realized just how qualified he was; with multiple publications and recognitions, I decided to hear him out. Then they would stitch me back up and it would take a few months to recover. Most importantly, I am eternally thankful that I will have the opportunity to be around to watch my son grow up, and he will always know the love of his mother. Choice 2: The second option would be to coil the aneurysm. "It can happen to young, perfectly healthy people. It often looks like a berry hanging on a stem.A brain aneurysm can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 1 in 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm. This is a medical emergency. My family said I was complaining of a headache whenever there was any loud noise, but I don’t remember that at all. I scheduled an angiogram for the following week. Looking back now, I can’t believe how smoothly everything went. I spent two days in the ICU and four days in the hospital after that. I appreciate everything so much more. They would perform a craniotomy in order to access the aneurysm directly and place a few metal clips on the aneurysm to cut off blood flow. I have no memory of the ICU. The reason I initially went for my MRA scan is because of a long family history of aneurysms. I made plans with family and friends, went on vacations, and spent as much time with my husband and son that I could. I mostly slept through my entire ICU stay. The only doctor’s orders for release were that I needed to rest as much as possible; I couldn’t drive, drink, or lift more than 10 pounds. I had an at-home nurse come visit three times a week in the beginning and her visits became more and more spread out until I was discharged. If they were to “coil” it, then they can cut in the groin (femoral artery) and use a long catheter that has a coil and sometimes a stent in it which is slowly push up to the aneurysm. Monday - Friday: 7AM - 9PM CST  *All health/medical information on this website has been reviewed and approved by the American Heart Association, based on scientific research and American Heart Association guidelines. She lost her sister, Marie, at the young age of 31. Some aneurysms can rupture when they are as small as 2mm, and some aneurysms can grow as large as 10mm and never rupture. In many cases, aneurysms are often found only during testing for other conditions. 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