Cerebral Angiogram #10

That’s right. I’ve had 10 angiograms. I’m so well-versed on this procedure that the nurse said I could do my own IV Friday morning. I respectfully declined and left the experts to attend to that task.

The procedure was rescheduled for very early in the morning. We had to be at the hospital at 6:30 am, which meant leaving our house at 5 am…which in turn meant the alarm went off at 4 am. I call that the pre-butt-crack of dawn.

As usual the entire staff in radiology at Maine Medical Center is top-notch and I was well taken care of. The only different this time from the last 9 angiograms is that Dave was not allowed in the hospital due to the high numbers of Covid19 STILL active in Maine.

It was very difficult for Dave to not be with me and it was very odd not having him with me. He’s usually a chatty-Kathy with all of the nurses, doctors, and attendants and that creates a good distraction for me. This time it was just me laying there by myself waiting for things to happen. Not awful, just odd. And of course, my thoughts went to those families around the country and around the world who weren’t able to be with their dying relatives and how awful that must have been and continues to be.

My sweet anesthesiologist Ally (not sure about the spelling) was great in listening to me when I expressed my concerns about pain when the catheter is inserted and afterwards if a plug is needed in the incision site. Thankfully, because this was just a diagnostic procedure and there were no implements being entered into my brain, the plug was not needed. And because she administered some pain killer before the catheter was used I never felt it going in and didn’t even realize the actual procedure had started! That’s a first!

I kept waiting for some verbal communication that the catheter was being used and things were getting started, but it never happened. I moved my head slightly, which is a big no-no and the doctor immediately said “Don’t move you head, Heidi!”. It was only then that I realized, “Oh, things have started!”.

The reason for this angiogram was to get a clearer set of images of my first brain aneurysm and determine if the change seen on the MRA from December is dramatic or something small that isn’t a concern right now. He also took some 3D images, which are fascinating to see and can be compared to the series of images taken in 2015.

The contrast dye entering your brain is an odd and uncomfortable feeling. Kind of painful, but not really and it only last a brief time. The 3D imaging is also odd. Not really painful, just a strange sensation and you see little flashing sparkles. At least I think that was the 3D…I may be confusing the dye and the 3D. Hey, I was a little drugged. Both experiences are strange, but thankfully brief.

The good news during the procedure was the declaration from Dr. Ecker that he had a good look around everywhere else and there were no NEW brain aneurysm. Yes, that’s great news! But I was still concerned about the problem child and he quickly indicated that he really wanted to compare the images taken today with those from 2015 before giving us any kind of indication about what’s going on.

My post-op recovery from the angiogram went very well, with no issues. Again, the nursing staff are terrific. One has to lay flat for at least two-hours afterwards to give the incision site time to heal and for the team to make sure there are no issues with blood flow. I don’t recall so much attention being paid to the pulse in my feet before. I know it’s been done before, but it just seemed really extensive this time with two black marks being drawn on each foot, that are still not coming off two days later.

Post-op was strange without Dave there to grab my purse and cut my sandwich…grab water for me, help me balance to put on my socks, etc. The nurses were very helpful as usual and they grabbed my cell phone out of my purse for me so I could send Dave a photo and a text to let him know I was doing okay and when he could meet me outside to go home.

Because I don’t know what’s going on yet, I can’t report much today. The doctor did call Dave afterwards and indicated once he compares images, he may be contacting other doctors he knows around the world to discuss putting a modern stent inside an older stent. It’s not that common, but it has been done and he wants to get their input. I respect that and glad he has some terrific colleagues out there from around the world to draw on their expertise.

Dave also said he told him the artery where my brain aneurysm is, is a challenge due to it’s shape and form. Goody. I know Dr. Ecker has spoken about doing some kind of bi-pass basically shutting down that section of the artery if blood flow can continue to flow normally without it. That would need a BOT or balloon occlusion test….something we were going to do many years ago, but decided not to. It may be needed now. I just don’t know yet.

We got home from the hospital about mid-afternoon and I was exhausted. I lay on the couch resting my leg and fell asleep many times. Also drank a lot of water to get the contrast dye and the happy meds out of my body. I had a slight headache for a day and a half, and the incision site on my groin was a little sore. They must have had to pinch my skin, as a lovely black & blue mark developed well below the site. It’s a little sore, but already feeling better. Still not exerting myself too much and taking it easy for another day. I’m an expert at that.

So, I sit and wait for word. This isn’t anything new for me, and that’s frustrating because this same aneurysm is still being an issue 15 years later. I’m hopeful recent medical technology and procedures can assist in making a more permanent resolution.

In the meantime, I continue to LIVE with brain aneurysms. Stay tuned and thanks for the kind thoughts and prayers I have received on social media.

Angiogram #10

My follow-up cerebral angiogram has been rescheduled for this Friday, January 28th. This will be my 10th angiogram. Light me up!

The angiogram will give my doctor a clearer view of what’s happening within the neck of my first brain aneurysm. His notes after my last visited stated: “She presents a challenge as she has a stent/coiled aneurysm with recurrence.” And the desired treatment he’d like to perform is also a challenge due to the stent. Goody! So glad I could be that special case again.

So, we get the angiogram done and go from there. Keep calm and carry on…or something like that.

Still here

It has been a minute since I last posted and I suppose that’s GOOD news. While I continue to advocated for brain aneurysm awareness whenever, and wherever I can, I am reminded again, about my own brain aneurysm issues.

I had my 2-year MRA check up on December 3rd. The initial “report” available to me online indicated some things remained unchanged, but some new things have developed on the big old original aneurysm that made its presence known in October, 2006 – fifteen years ago.

There is something that HAS changed, but the medical jargon used in the report is beyond me. So I have to wait for the follow-up appointment scheduled for January 4th before I can see the images and discuss what’s going on with my doctor. His extremely brief follow-up notes on the report indicated he wants me to have an angiogram.

I haven’t needed an angiogram since 2016, so I know they see something that needs a closer look. But once you read something like that, you can’t UNREAD it, so the mind starts to race on what exactly it is and how serious it may or may not be.

The fact I haven’t had to have a closer look in five years is certainly discerning and one doesn’t like to read a report with the words “however”, “changes”, and “has developed”. It was this sentence though “…which is highly suggestive of coil compaction and recurrent aneurysm filling…” that hit me hardest.

I’m praying it’s only a small blip and that the angiogram will show it’s nothing to be concerned about. I’ve lived with this “remnant” of blood in the neck of that aneurysm for years. I just hope I’m not doing something that is causing it to “develop”.

Now that I’ve “spoken” about it, hopefully I can forget about it over the holidays until the start of the new year.

I’ll let you all know what’s going on when I know what’s going on. Umm….but Merry Christmas! 🙂

MRA Results

I have added some new images to my brain photography exhibition after my latest MRA last week to check my vascular health. I haven’t had one in two years, so the scan-xiety built up a little bit the day & evening before. Not that I was nervous about the MRA, I have had plenty of those (see the previous blog post!) but it’s always the results that create that uncertainty.

I was especially worried about this one because I haven’t been taking care of myself the last two years. I’m not exercising, I’m not eating right, and since my last MRA in 2018 I had developed high blood pressure. All three of those things are NOT good for maintaining good blood flow in the brain…or elsewhere for that matter. I take full responsibility…no excuses other than being lazy.

I have been reticent to sign up for all the online medical charts offered by the hospitals lately, but I decided to sign up for the one used by the state. As a result, I could view the initial findings of the MRA online on a Sunday before the doctor’s office ever called me on a Tuesday. I’m still debating whether that is a good thing to have or a bad thing. If the results have come back badly, I’m not sure how I would have handled that.

THANKFULLY, the findings were positive and my doctor’s office confirmed the diagnostic radiologist’s report with his reply and recommendations for follow-up.

Here are the main things that came from the report:

  • There is normal flow within both vertebral arteries. No other aneurysm is identified. There is normal flow within both P1 segments and in the right middle cerebral artery.
  • Stable appearance of the coil embolization and previously clipped left internal carotid artery bifurcation aneurysm. Small amount of flow is unchanged or slightly less apparent in the region of the aneurysm neck that measures between 3 and 4mm in size.

The first point is the best one, indicating no other aneurysm was found. I am at higher risk with my family history and my own history with two already.

The second point was also good news about the bloody remnant (narrow area where blood is starting to creep back into the aneurysm) at the neck of the original brain aneurysm being “unchanged” and that it may be “slightly less apparent”. We have been watching this remnant for several years now and I’m always nervous it will increase in size, or create a weak area and possibly burst.

When the doctor recommended I come back in a year for another MRA, I was surprised it’s not another two year follow-up. So, I have sent in a question asking why.

Celebration Tea

I am blessed to still be here and share my story with others. Keep on living. I am enjoying a celebratory scone with tea to celebrate!