Life seemed to be going perfectly. An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge of an artery wall. Standing at a church pulpit, a blood vessel burst in her brain, Stopping the Bleeding in a Hemorrhagic Stroke, Researchers suggest way to possibly eliminate artery-clogging condition, Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection (TAPVC). I was ecstatic when I realized I wasn’t deaf, blind, or paralyzed; and I still felt pretty smart! "Any sudden, severe headache that's unlike any headache you've had before warrants investigation as quickly as possible," he said. He started the Lisa Foundation with the mission of "shedding light on brain aneurysms." The news that rapper and record executive Dr. Dre is recovering from a brain aneurysm has many people wondering: What is a brain aneurysm? Unfortunately, my aneurysm happened to be at an intersection of two arteries (lucky me! Brain Aneurysm Statistics: An estimated 6 million people in the USA have an unruptured brain aneurysm. About 40% of people who have a ruptured brain aneurysm will die as a result. Also, going through the femoral artery many times could possibly damage the artery and would increase my risk of stroke or blood clots. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, 1 in 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm. What started out as migraine headaches turned into a fight for survival. Since I was about to turn 30 and now had a beautiful baby boy to live for, I figured I would give my mother peace of mind and go get checked out. It has only been six months since my surgery and I am 100% back to normal, and have been for a few months. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation one in fifty people in the U.S. have an unruptured brain aneurysm. 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. Life seemed to be going perfectly. This is like the cardiac catheterization procedure used to insert a stent into a blockage in a heart artery. The analogy often used is of a water line that may be giving way with little evidence … until everyone knows it. See full terms of use. I calmly went for the scan and walked out of the appointment thinking nothing of it. I got fully caught up on all episodes of my favorite TV shows and I think I put a permanent dent in my parent’s couch. I was slowly but surely getting back to my old ways. My family said I was complaining of a headache whenever there was any loud noise, but I don’t remember that at all. Amazingly enough, only two weeks after a major craniotomy, Tylenol was enough! There are many people who are diagnosed with much worse things and some people who don’t even have the opportunity to be diagnosed before their ailment destroys them. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, about 30,000 people in the U.S. suffer a brain-aneurysm rupture each year, and they’re fatal in about 40 … The hardest part was that I couldn’t lift more than 10 pounds since I had a one year old at home to take care of. Watch his story through diagnosis and treatment. By day four I felt ready to go home. I tried my best to be strong and keep it together. Authored by Jennifer Casoni, RN. 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. MY STORY. As soon as Dr. Zager explained what they had found, it made my decision even more difficult. 1-800-242-8721 *Red Dress ™ DHHS, Go Red ™ AHA ; National Wear Red Day® is a registered trademark. Doctors can then use imaging tests to determine where the problem is and how bad it is. Me with my husband and my son, only 5 months after the surgery. They would have to shave the top part of my head to make this incision (I felt terrible for being so vain, but this sounded like one of the worst parts!). My post-surgery incision the day I got moved to the hospital room and they unwrapped my head. The surgery is known as clipping. The diagnosis came upon my life very unexpectedly. I am a two-time brain aneurysm survivor. The hospital was gracious enough to allow all 13 of us into the prep area where I waited to be taken back. Choice 3: My third option would be to face this head on and go in for the surgery to correct the problem. Most are harmless, said neurologist Dr. Mitchell Elkind, president of the American Heart Association. "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. After treatment for an unruptured brain aneurysm, people tend to return to … 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. All Rights Reserved. A brain aneurysm (AN-yoo-riz-um) is a bulge or ballooning in a blood vessel in the brain. It was a nightmare for me, and probably even worse for my mom. 34 staples were removed just 10 days after surgery! As unfortunate as it is that I had to go through with this surgery, I feel like it has enriched my life, believe it or not! The diagnosis came upon my life very unexpectedly. I considered myself extremely fortunate to have found this silent assassin before it had the opportunity to kill me. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories. My husband would come over every night after work and have dinner with us. Fortunately, my mom and dad were also able to take eight weeks off from work. 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. Some aneurysms can rupture when they are as small as 2mm, and some aneurysms can grow as large as 10mm and never rupture. 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 was on an IV and a catheter. They are trained professionals and they will take great care of you. That day was one of the most terrifying days of my life. They had me heavily medicated and completely out of pain. I could not believe this decision was mine to make. I was 29 years old, recently married, and had only just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. Once an aneurysm is found, it requires a careful evaluation by a specialist who understands the risk an aneurysm could pose to the patient. The team of doctors and nurses at Penn Neurosurgery are amazing and took wonderful care of me. I couldn’t help but worry that it could be my last time enjoying pass-times as I had always known them. A report, written completely in medical terms that seemed like gibberish to me, read the words “worrisome for an aneurysm”. The catch with this choice was that the only baseline indication of the size of the aneurysm was the initial scan. I desperately wanted to find a survivor story, or reach out to someone that had been through it, but I had no success. During that time period I also lost my sister to a ruptured brain aneurysm and my husband’s niece died of a rupture. 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. Since I was given this second chance at life, with the knowledge I had, I decided to have the surgery. Saying goodbye to my family was the hardest part. Thankfully I have an extremely supportive family to assist me with the baby. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org. 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. A cerebral, or brain, aneurysm occurs when an area of a blood vessel in the brain becomes weakened or damaged, causing blood collect in a sac that bulges outward from the artery. Monday - Friday: 7AM - 9PM CST  Although the decision was still mine, he was recommending the surgery. I have heard of aneurysms before and I knew their impact could be devastating. Waiting for the results from the angiogram was brutal. "It can happen to young, perfectly healthy people. Once I changed my part and my hair started to grow back, no one could even tell I had just gone through this surgery. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately. I can’t even describe how great I felt. It was such a tremendous help to have my mom and dad around every day to take care of me and the baby. Research suggests up to 1 in 20 people in the United States will develop a brain aneurysm in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. A physical therapist came to my house weekly for about a month until I was released from his care. Read More: Emilia Clarke survived 2 brain aneurysms. I scheduled an angiogram for the following week. These stories may not be used to promote or endorse a commercial product or service. The extent of these issues depends on the degree of bleeding when an aneurysm bursts. My endurance is back, I seldom get headaches, I can drive, I can drink, and I can lift my baby! 1-800-AHA-USA-1 Posted In: Medical Stories 0 Replies Posted By: Anonymous; June 1, 2010; 08:53 PM; I am in my early 40's and was recently diagnosed with a small unruptured aneurysm in my internal carotid artery. Dr. Dre is recovering from a brain aneurysm. I found out I have two brain aneurysms; one aneurysm measuring 2mm is located on my carotid artery and the second aneurysm measuring 4mm is located on my ophthalmic artery. The question is, how much. He could not determine how fast my aneurysms had already grown, or if they would continue to grow. By Jaime Aron, American Heart Association News. An aneurysm is when a weak section of a blood vessel enlarges, it's usually described as a "ballooning" of the vessel. Other uses, including educational products or services sold for profit, must comply with the American Heart Association’s Copyright Permission Guidelines. There is no reason to suspect anything and, boom, it comes out of nowhere.". 4 out of 7 people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities. The explanation begins with an important clarification: An aneurysm is like a bubble in the wall of an artery, and plenty of people have them in their brain. The first few weeks, I got worn out pretty easily and needed a nap every day after work. Going into the surgery, I was terrified of the recovery period, but I snapped back pretty quickly. Unruptured Aneurysm. Most often a ruptured brain aneurysm occurs in the space between the brain and the thin tissues covering the brain. 7272 Greenville Ave. It often looks like a berry hanging on a stem.A brain aneurysm can leak or rupture, causing bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). "We want people to get to the point where they don't dismiss a headache," Crawford said. There were 34 staples holding me together and the doctors were able to save a lot of my hair. Listen to your body and take action. Next, they would cut through the layers of the brain to access the aneurysm. Ultimately, I decided I was one of the lucky ones. Founded in May 2014, The Bee Foundation is a Philadelphia-based 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the number of deaths caused by brain aneurysms through innovative research. What is that. It truly is amazing how one second could change your entire outlook on life. Aneurysm coiling - tiny threads of platinum are placed inside the aneurysm sac. Although this was a difficult thing to keep to myself some days, I’m glad I didn’t share my news. Unauthorized use prohibited. Make sure you have a good support system at home. Risk factors for brain aneurysms include smoking, high blood pressure, connective tissue disorders and a family history, usually a parent or sibling. 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. We only worry about them when they get large enough to cause a problem." 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. The second they wheeled me away and my family was out of sight, I started to come undone. Closed on Sundays. 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. © 2021 The Bee Foundation. And for that, I am grateful. As scary as it was going into the whole thing blindly, I couldn’t have asked for better results. Looking back now, I can’t believe how smoothly everything went. One week later, my whole world was turned upside-down. Thankfully, I am a teacher and was able to have my surgery during the summer months that I already have scheduled off. Use this link for more information on our content editorial process. In other situations, aneurysms are found when they cause symptoms, such as headache, vision problems or … A patient must get to the hospital as quickly as possible to limit the amount of brain damage. The whole process was way easier than I had anticipated. "She experienced that headache two or three times a week over about four weeks and we completely dismissed it," Crawford said. In some rare cases people experience symptoms when an unruptured aneurysm is large and presses on the nerves or tissue of the brain these … Having the support of my family and friends made it effortless! Customer Service Of course, I was bombarded with horror stories of death, loss of brain function, paralysis, loss of vision and hearing, etc. After thoroughly investigating Dr. Zager, I realized just how qualified he was; with multiple publications and recognitions, I decided to hear him out. If you hesitate or put it off, you may not be around to see your family again.". 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. It was tiring at first, but it made me feel more like myself again to get up and move around. Saturday: 9AM - 5PM CST "When done vascularly, there's the concern whether it'll grow back again, but it's a less-invasive procedure.". I received the news via email. Today marks one year since I was diagnosed with two unruptured brain aneurysms. Again, I turned to the most reliable source I knew – Google. After hearing the options, I was honestly leaning toward coiling. (I use the term normal loosely). "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. Forty percent of ruptured aneurysms result in immediate death. All I kept thinking about was my son having to live without his mother. I was only on the heavy narcotics for about two weeks before I decided to stop and switch to Tylenol. "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. Known for being one of the best neurosurgery programs in the country, I knew I was in good hands. Medical studies show the risk of a brain aneurysm rupturing is quite low. What can be done about it? Pets and Your Health / Healthy Bond for Life, Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. The aneurysm may cause neurological symptoms such as blurring of vision, headaches, and more, before bleeding. On Oct 2, 2013 I was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm. I called my doctor’s office off the hook, but the doctor was with patients and couldn’t come to the phone right away. The reason I initially went for my MRA scan is because of a long family history of aneurysms. Recovery at home involved a lot of lying around, which got pretty boring. As an aneurysm grows it puts pressure on nearby structures and may eventually rupture. We only worry about them when they get large enough to cause a problem." Happy, healthy, and back to normal. An angiogram is a procedure where they feed a small catheter through the femoral artery and guide it up to the brain. The most upsetting thing about this appointment was that the choice was ultimately mine. When most of the people in your world think everything in your life is fine, it makes pretending that everything in your life is fine pretty easy. This is a condition where every second literally matters. There were 13 of us in the waiting room. She lost her sister, Marie, at the young age of 31. But, I will tell you to put your trust in your doctors. I only shared the news of my diagnosis with close family and friends. National Center Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Someone in my doctor’s office accidentally released the report to me before my doctor got the chance to call and give me the news. I try to consider myself very lucky to have found mine and to have had the power to fix my problem before it became a bigger problem. I just could not wrap my head around the fact that I had to risk possibly being blind, or not being able to read, or being deaf, when I felt like there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. Today marks one year since I was diagnosed with two unruptured brain aneurysms. I never would have made it through any of this journey without the support of my family and friends. Managing unruptured intracranial aneurysms is complex and usually involves one or a combination of three options – conservative, endovascular, or surgical treatment. 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. 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. Ten days after surgery, I had my staples removed at home by my nurse. Following the surgery, possible side effects could include cognitive deficits, blindness or vision loss, deafness or hearing loss, drooping of the muscles in the face, memory loss, paralysis, or death (just to name a few). Due to my family history, he strongly felt that we needed to take care of the aneurysm. Re: Unruptured 3mm cerebral aneurysm The other factor was the success rate of these surgeries (upwards of 90% ) and the long-term prognosis for complete "cure" of the aneurysm. "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. News outlets reported that the 55-year-old producer suffered a brain aneurysm Monday. I mostly slept the first two days in the hospital room. They had to sedate me to calm me down. Certain aneurysms are more likely to bleed, or rupture. "Nobody out there had ever focused on communicating the top signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm.". Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, for individuals, media outlets, and non-commercial education and awareness efforts to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to American Heart Association News. My great-grandmother had also suffered a fatal brain aneurysm at the age of 31. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. He explained how they would make an 8-10 inch incision in my skull, almost in the shape of a headband. "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. My mother had been harassing me for years to just go get checked to be safe. He also did not have a size in mind for when aneurysms are typically known to rupture. On days three and four, they made me get up, move around, take a shower, and go to physical therapy. I mostly slept through my entire ICU stay. The bleeding is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, and it's a type of stroke. 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. I had a full blown panic attack moments before they were about to wheel me in. I never in a million years thought there would be anything wrong with me. Although this sounded terrifying, it still sounded better to me than death from a rupture or cutting my skull open and going through with a brain surgery. "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. Finally, an occupational therapist only had to come once before he discharged me. ), so coiling the aneurysm was no longer an option. There are two ways to try fixing it depending on how easy or difficult it is to reach, the patient's overall health and other factors. My head was wrapped in an ace bandage and I had a few drains to prevent swelling on my brain. An unruptured brain aneurysm may produce no symptoms, particularly if it's small. After about a month, I got up enough nerve to shower independently. After a few weeks I would take a walk around the block every night after dinner with my family to try to get my endurance back up. I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Eric Zager. "The thought is that when it's done surgically, it's more definitive because the surgeon can see where to put the clip and whether it's definitively (closed)," Elkind said. Since I don’t have a family member or best friend that is a neurosurgeon, I did the worst thing you could ever do – Google it. ... My Story: Surviving a Brain Aneurysm. I spent two days in the ICU and four days in the hospital after that. I received the news via email. I couldn’t believe this serious decision was mine to make. Four out of seven patients who recover will have disabilities.Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people ages 35 – 60, but can occur in children as well. Slowly but surely, the fatigue wore off and I gained my endurance back. The weakness in the wall of a blood vessel could rupture at any time, unexpectedly. Twelve days after my surgery, I celebrated my 30th birthday with my family and friends. 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. After my decision was made, I tried to busy myself as much as possible to keep the looming surgery off of my mind. That day was one of the most terrifying days of my life. However, Elkind emphasized the difference between having a brain aneurysm and having one rupture. An aneurysm occurs when an area on an artery wall becomes weak, creating a sac that balloons out and fills with blood. Not all views expressed in American Heart Association News stories reflect the official position of the American Heart Association. 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. Recovery from a brain aneurysm involves physical, mental and emotional challenges. I consulted with my closest family and friends on their opinions. We weighed the odds the best we could and tried to take all factors into account. He asked me about my boo-boo, but overall wasn’t too fazed. "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. Recovering from brain aneurysm surgery can be very stressful. That is about 1 in 50 people. Crawford set out to fill that void soon after Colagrossi died in March 2015. 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. However, Elkind emphasized the difference between having a brain aneurysm and having one rupture. The risk of rupture varies depending on the aneurysm location and size. American Heart Association News covers heart disease, stroke and related health issues. The mean diameter of the aneurysms that subsequently ruptured was 21.3 mm, compared with a diameter of 7.5 mm for aneurysms defined after rupture at the same institution. January 15, 2018. "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. However, a larger unruptured aneurysm may press on brain tissues and nerves, possibly causing pain above and behind one eye, a dilated pupil, change in vision or double vision and numbness on one side of the face. 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. I have no memory of the ICU. For many people, diagnosis of a brain aneurysm does not happen until the aneurysm ruptures and bleeds. While Elkind cautioned that such an extreme discomfort doesn't always mean a subarachnoid hemorrhage, it usually requires dialing 911. My head for other conditions and keep it together the USA have an extremely supportive family to assist with! Rupture again ; that requires cutting into the surgery `` when done vascularly there. And may eventually rupture craniotomy, Tylenol was enough a difficult thing keep! 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