Additional Coiling

Just got back from the Dr. in Scarborough. We had a real good, hour-long meeting with him to discuss procedures and risks. At the end of the hour, I decided to have the recoiling done with a possibility of a stent, but only if he sees there might be an issue with recoiling that area of the larger aneurysm. It doesn’t appear he’s concerned there will be issues, but just in case his first coil doesn’t want to stay put or something, he’ll put the stent in, then I’ll come back for more coiling 6 weeks later. He didn’t seem overly alarmed with any serious risks to the recoiling. There is a slightly higher risk with the stent, but I’m right there on the table so if something does happen, they can address right there and then.

I keep calling it recoiling, but it’s technically additional coiling being added.

I feel confident that this is the best thing to do at the moment. He also wants to get a non-invasive image of the smaller aneurysm so that it can be monitored in the future without having to go in via the groin on a yearly basis, which I’m fine with. They may order a CTA scan while I’m in the hospital at the same time.

They’re scheduling surgeries for March right now, so I’ll have all February to think about it…or not! Then he’s away in Finland for the month of April working with a high-ranking surgeon over there. I’m hoping the coiling is scheduled for very early March, but we’ll see.

Dr. Ecker performs elective surgeries (clipping and coiling) on Wednesdays. I’ll need to be put on a regimen of Plavix and Aspirin four days prior to the procedure and that’s only in case the stent will be inserted to keep the blood thin and prevent any clotting. If the coiling goes well and I don’t need the stent, then I can stop the aspirin and plavix. If he puts the stent in, then I need to keep up with those meds until after the other coiling is done and possibly for several years after depending on how my blood flow is.

Confused yet? LOL Here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
1) Schedule procedure for March
2) Start Aspirin/Plavix regimen Sunday prior to procedure
3) Coils added to large Aneurysm.
4) Stay in hospital overnight for monitoring
5) Leave hospital next day
6) Possible two or three days off from work after that

If the coils don’t “take”, a stent will be inserted the same day and I’ll have to go back six weeks later for coiling. The reason he puts the stent in then waits six weeks is to give
the stent time to adjust to its surroundings and not move during coiling, which makes sense.

I think I’m in good hands and I’m feeling good about just knowing what we’re going to do now. Still some minor risks involved, but he really calmed my fears and put me at ease knowing he’s done hundreds of these and really knows what he’s doing.

I’m on an aspirin test tonight. I thought I was allergic to aspirin and it made my heart race, but it might be something else. We’ll find out!!

So, all of you re-coilers might be getting questions from me in the next month!

That’s A Lot!






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Wow! Dave and I pulled out the initial
coiling results from my 2006 procedure. It indicates a total length of 199 cm
of coils were inserted into the aneurysm. That’s approx. 6.5 FEET of platinum
coils in my brain. When it’s put that way….WOW! LOL

My Brain

The news is pretty good. In fact, much better than we were expecting based on some of the conversations we’ve had with the Dr. previously.

Basically, I do not have to have open brain surgery and clipping, so that’s great news. He didn’t feel the issues with the larger aneurysm, nor the size, location or shape of the smaller one, required it. Once that was out of the way, I felt much better.

There ARE some issues with the larger 2006 aneurysm that can either be addressed now, or later. In fact he said we could do nothing with it now and then have an angiogram in 2012 to monitor it,mbut since it has developed some issues since 2006, I’m probably going to opt to have it “taken care” sooner rather than later because it’s the original aneurysm and it WAS a ruptured aneurysm, so it may be susceptible to rupturing again should we not treat it.

With the Dr.’s recommendations, I think we’re going to opt for having more coils inserted into the aneurysm and fill up that one area that has expanded. It’s a low risk operation. There’s a possibility he might insert a stent into the artery (which will increase any risk slightly) to keep the artery shaped better for the coils to keep their shape within the aneurysm. I still don’t understand it all. The first course of
action will more than likely be re-coiling the larger annie. I have unusual artery configurations apparently.

Regarding the smaller aneurysm, he felt it wasn’t at risk for rupturing and we all agreed I’d live with it as is and monitor it with MRI’s. It appears there WAS something there on my previous angiograms but it was never mentioned or pointed out. The wonderful thing about this most recent angiogram I had last week, was that it’s in 3D. The images are soooo much better than they were even back in 2006 and 2007. So the smaller annie showed up VERY well on last week’s angiogram. It’s near the larger aneurysm, but he didn’t feel it was a serious issue at this point and the risksmof treating it would far out weigh the risks of just letting it sit and monitor it. I’m okay with that at this point….I guess. LOL Still not sure how I feel.

He also noticed an irregular area on my RIGHT carotid artery behind my right eye. (both of my other annies are behind my left eye). He said we’ll just keep an eye on it, but that it posed absolutely no concern right now. I have irregular arteries. I’m so special!

He didn’t want us to rush into a decision today, so we scheduled another appointment with him on Jan. 23rd to give us some time to do research and make a first decision on what I want to do…then we’ll go from there. The coiling would be an over-night stay in the hospital and that’s it. I’ve read where many people who have had recoiling take a week of work and that’s it, so that’s good news. If we decide to do that stents, the risks are a little higher and it might require a slighter longer hospital stay, but I don’t know yet. He spent a good hour and a half with us and had all of my images from 2006 and beyond so it was great to compare images.

So, no open brain surgery and and a low-risk procedure is possible in the next month or so.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…aneurysms and all!

Thanks for all your kind words of support. It’s all scary, but it really helps knowing there are others out there going through the same type of thing and also living with multiple annies.

Angiogram and Results

I had my four-year aneurysm check-up angiogram yesterday. Had to be at Maine Medical Center at 9:15, so we left the house around 7:45. I couldn’t eat or drink anything so, of course, today I woke up with a horribly dry and sore throat. Figures. Despite an earlier weather report of snow showers, it was just cold and sunny, so we had good traveling weather.

Dave and I arrived at Maine Med right on time and were quickly whisked into the radiology patient recovery area where I was promptly told to strip out of everything and put on the lovely johnny gown. Oh, they’re so attractive. The wonderfully funny nurse, John, arranged to get me a water swab so I could at least wet my dry throat.

I was hooked up to an IV and blood pressure and oxygen monitor then taken into the operating room. As I was wheeled in, I heard some amazing music being played. They had on the Rat Pack station from Pandora Radio. LOVED it! It was around 10:00 when I started to be prepped for the procedure to sounds of Tony Bennet and Frank Sinatra belting out standards.

I was moved onto the narrow table surrounded on one side by large monitors. Arm guards were positioned to keep my arms on the table and out of the way and I was hooked up to multiple sensors as well as a strap place over my forehead to keep me from moving my head. My groin was shaved and I was introduced to at least four or five different radiologist, including Bernie, who was my “bartender” with the meds. I didn’t go with any med prior to being wheeled in and I REALLY regretted that when the Dr. began inserting the catheter. The worst pain I’ve had at the beginning of an angio. Next time, I ask for meds, and more meds….and some meds too. OUCH!

I’m not sure how long the actual procedure took. I DID get some meds when I was experiencing the pain, so I was a tad groggy. Had to take deep breaths and hold them on many occasions for pictures to be taken. So I was awake for the whole thing. One injection of dye was almost painful in my head and part of my tongue felt a little numb, but it didn’t last long.

Once the procedure was done, I was unhooked from all of the sensors and one of the radiologist had to hold strong pressure on my incision area on my groin. We chatted about Buffalo weather and the Bills. It helped pass the time of having a stranger hold your groin! LOL

At around 11:00, I was wheeled back into the recovery area. Dave wasn’t there, but one of the nurses said that Dr. Ecker  had spoken to Dave “at length”. Uh, oh…that didn’t sound promising! And I thought when Dave came around the corner, he looked pale.

Dr. Ecker came in shortly after Dave and informed me there did appear to be problems with the coiling in the aneurysm so something would have to be done, but that he’d discuss that with us at the follow-up appointment on Monday. Then he divulged a 2nd, smaller aneurysm was discovered above the initial aneurysm. This one was about 3 mm (1/8″). My original one was 11 mm (1/2″). This was shocking. If I had one in 2006 for my last angiogram, wouldn’t they have said something about it? If it wasn’t there, then it’s not a good sign that one has developed in such a relatively short span of 2 years. The Dr. had told Dave that this smaller annie had a wide neck too and it might not be a good candidate for coiling.

So, not only do I not know what’s going to happen to the original annie (Or Big Annie), but I don’t know what’s going to happen, if anything, with this new little discovery (I’ll call her Little Annie)

I know Dr. Ecker had mentioned possibly adding more coils to Big Annie, which isn’t that highly unusual, and it’s far less dangerous because it’s not a rupture, but he had also mentioned clipping, which means a craniotomy and that’s a far more invasion process that involves removing part of the skull and having open brain surgery. But that’s with the original annie. Now this 2nd one comes into play. Goody.

I have been introduced and read storiesabout many people who have multiple aneurysms and my own cousin is living with two un-ruptured aneurysms that they’re simply monitoring, which might be the case for me with Little Annie. So, it’s not that highly unusual for people to have multiple aneurysms and the positive take on this is that I KNOW it’s there and we can do something (hopefully) before it ruptures unlike last time.

My fear is not the surgery at this point…it’s the outcome and having complications during the procedure that would require a longer recovery period or prevent me from doing my job or driving. I was VERY lucky with my previous rupture that I was not dealt with life-altering deficits – which could have easily happened and could still happen. I have a lot of faith and trust in Dr. Ecker and excellent staff at Maine Med. They were fantastic to me in 2006 and I know they’ll take good care of me
this time…for whatever I’m going to be dealt with. I’m still very, VERY thankful that Dr. Ecker is here in Maine and we don’t have to travel to Boston.

I wish Dave didn’t have to go through more crap with aneurysms. He has been such an angel and powerhouse during all of this. I’m sorry he has to “suffer” as well.