The Coiling (Part 2)

I realized Monday evening (two days before the coiling) that I was more nervous about this procedure than I was expecting to be. Not sure why, but I was. Perhaps it was a foreshadowing of the events yet to come and the amount of time I had to wait to get into the darn operating room. Lots of delays and one of my poor sisters Dori, who was flying into Maine to be with me, had two flights delayed and missed seeing me before I went into the OR.

The coiling procedure itself went very well. Dr. Ecker was able to get five more coils into that remnant area on the original aneurysm that had ruptured in 2006. So I now have a total of 20 coils in that one annie. He said the stent that was implanted last month was very secure and he feels the coils will stay secure behind it.

We had planned all along to get some good 3D images of the original aneurysm and the other new smaller one for comparison during future checkups. So after the coiling procedure was completed, he inserted quite a large amount of contrast dye. More than normal I suppose.

As the dye was injected I had an “episode” where my pupils dilated and my blood pressure shot up to 280. I still don’t know what they did to correct the situation….and I’m not sure I want to know just yet, but it was a serious situation because they’re weren’t sure what caused it. I wasn’t aware I have had any issues with the contrast dye in the past and he was concerned I had had another rupture or bleed somewhere. I was immediately taken to get a CT scan for further review and it showed I did not have a bleed, but they were concerned what caused it.

Unfortunately, for my family, the scare it gave the Dr. created a scare with them. He came out to speak to them between the coiling and the CT scan, so he wasn’t sure I was okay just yet. Which scared my sister, sister-in-law and husband a great, great deal. I’m so sorry they had to go through that.

Apparently the Dr. was also concerned about getting me to come out of the anesthesia, but obviously they did. Because of the chaos that occurred at the end of the procedure, he decided to get me right to ICU and that he’d come back later and remove the sheath in my groin then. I was taken to ICU and apparently was quite chatty that first hour when Dori and Dave came in to see me. The only thing I remember is that my throat was killing me because of the breathing tube used during the procedure. I didn’t recall any of these conversations the next morning. LOL

At around 8:00 in the evening, Dr. Ecker stopped by SCU3 to remove the sheath in my groin that’s inserted to allow the micro catheter and coils to be entered smoothly into the artery up to the brain. I was given the option of having him insert the angio seal/plug into the puncture site in the artery (without any anesthesia) and only have to lay flat for 2 hours or having him simply apply pressure for 15 minutes to stop the bleeding, then I’d have to lay flat for 4 hours. Because I’ve had the angio seal/plug inserted once before without any anesthesia and it hurt like hell, I opted to have him apply pressure and have to lay flat for 4 hours….It wasn’t like I had anywhere to go. I was going to be in bed all night anyway. I’m sure he wasn’t happy with that decision, but he relented.

What I was NOT prepared for was how incredibly long that sheath is that he pulled out of the puncture site. 14 to 15″ long. I kid you not!! I said “holy crap” when the nurse showed it to me. We turned on American Idol on TV so that helped pass the 15 minutes. My groin was very sore for quite some time and I have a pretty horrific looking bruise beside the site for some reason.

I stayed in the SCU3 (or Special Care Unit) at Maine Medical Center overnight. I didn’t get any sleep and couldn’t eat much except ice cream and sherbet due to my throat. The nurse even crushed some Tylenol into the sherbet for me. That was brilliant!

We also learned after last month that I have issues with Morphine, so I was going to make sure we didn’t do any morphine this time. Amazingly, I truly didn’t need it. My head pain wasn’t so bad that I needed stronger meds. I had the two Tylenols in the evening and two more in the morning. I didn’t feel good, but thankfully I never got sick to my stomach this time and I truthfully feel it’s the morphine. They marked that I was allergic to it, so hopefully I won’t ever go through that again.

Despite the remarkable care and service in SCU3, I didn’t get any sleep during the night. I’ll just say it was a good 8-hour “rest”. I needed the sleep, but there was too much talking, bells, alarms and bustling in the ICU….as it should be. They do an amazing job. I was hooked up to all sorts of monitors and had the leg massage wraps on to keep the blood circulating in my calves to avoid any clotting. I was hooked up from head to toe so just laying on my back was about all I could do for many, many hours.

I was able to eat breakfast the next morning, so that was huge (compared to last time) and I was sitting up in a chair when Dave and Dori arrived giving them a huge surprise.

Dr. Ecker gave me the clear to go home the next day, but another neurologist wanted to make sure there was no neurological reason for my “episode” so they wanted to run an EEG before they released me. I was very tired, had a headache but was functioning as normally as I could at that point.

The EEG took about 20 minutes and they were able to do it right in my EEG-accessible room in ICU so I didn’t have to go anywhere,which was nice. They hooked up electrodes on my head and upper torso. No pain, just makes horrible mess out of your hair. My baseball hat went on immediately afterwards. Results of the EEG came back very quickly and all looked good. I was free to go as soon as the final papers were signed. That took HOURS for some reason, so I never got out of there until 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon. I had been dressed for several hours prior to that. I did get a good lunch though and I know it’s odd to have people released directly from ICU, but it was still a long, long wait. I was very, very tired and hurting at that point and knew we had another hour drive to get back home.

My sister-in-law Nancy offered her home to us so that I could spend some more time with my sister before she flew back home and we headed north. It was nice to spend some time with her and chat and I was grateful she came in for the surgery, even though she had a hell of a time getting to Maine. Nancy agreed to pick her up at the airport and take her back, so I’m also grateful to her for that.

It all worked out in the end. I was wiped out when I got home and the next day. A good day to lay on the couch and watch the royal wedding. I then decided I should remove the bandage from the groin incision and clean that up to avoid any infection or anything. I discovered a pretty horrific looking bruise there. That was new!

I’ll have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Ecker in June.

Getting Ready for Round 2

As I’m getting ready for the round 2 coiling procedure on my brain aneurysm remnant, I’m reminded after reading a brain aneurysm foundation post, about just how fortunate and blessed I am.

So, get ready, I’m going to count my blessings!

  • My initial rupture of this damn aneurysm didn’t kill me: Blessing #1
  • There was a local Dr. who came back from vacation to insert 16 coils into the aneurysm saving my life: Blessing #2
  • My then boyfriend (now husband) was by my side every day of the 20 days I was in the hospital, even driving back down to the hospital only a couple hours after he left…over an hours drive: Blessing #3
  • My rupture didn’t leave me with any deficits or loss of functions, so I was able to able to return to my job 3 months later: Blessing #4
  • I was able to enjoy four uninterrupted, annie-free years of working, living, gardening and loving life after my rupture: Blessing #5
  • I was married last year to my Maine Man, my angel, and my best friend who has continued to care for me on a daily basis and be so, so understanding and patient: Blessing #6
  • After losing our only Dr. who did coiling in the state, a new Dr. has arrived in the state who does both brain procedures, coiling and clipping: Blessing #7
  • Unfortunately, an issue has developed with my original ruptured aneurysm from 2006 and another smaller aneurysm was newly discovered, but, I KNOW about them and we can monitor and DO something about them before they rupture: Blessing #8
  • I’ll have coiling on Wednesday, by a Dr. who I have a tremendous amount of confidence in. My sister is flying in to be with my husband during the procedure: Blessing #9
  • My family, friends, co-workers and completed strangers who I have befriended on message boards are praying for me: Blessing #10
  • -If all goes well, I’ll be back home on Thursday and recovering nicely….hopefully Blessing #11!!

March Stents Bring April Coils

The date for my additional coils to be inserted into the brain aneurysm remnant has finally been scheduled for April 27th. I’m not crazy about waiting 3 more weeks, but it is what it is. I know there are other people out there with other needs and the scheduling at the hospital has been an issue because my Dr. is leaving for Finland for the entire month of May. At least I know when it’ll be done.

I forget that I have a stent in that artery, not something to BLOCK the blood flow into the aneurysms per say. So, there is still blood flowing into that remnant on the side of the aneurysm that has already ruptured once before. That makes me a little uneasy, but I’ll try not to think about it too much and continue on.

I’m hoping to get more seeds planted this weekend and continue to grow things as I normally would. It IS spring you know…the season of rebirth and renewal.

Another month…more metal in my brain! Yeee hawww!