Going into the surgery, I was terrified of the recovery period, but I snapped back pretty quickly. If you are in the United States and experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or call for emergency medical help immediately. 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. 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. The annual rate of rupture is 8 to 10 out of each 100,000, 40% of which are fatal. This is a condition where every second literally matters. The team of doctors and nurses at Penn Neurosurgery are amazing and took wonderful care of me. Choice 2: The second option would be to coil the aneurysm. Published on Apr 25, 2016. MY STORY. Life seemed to be going perfectly. I couldn’t believe this serious decision was mine to make. The hospital stay was getting pretty boring. But, I will tell you to put your trust in your doctors. Today marks one year since I was diagnosed with two unruptured brain aneurysms. Todd Crawford certainly didn't know that when his wife, Lisa Colagrossi – a fit, healthy 49-year-old news reporter for the ABC affiliate in New York and mother of two boys – began complaining of strong headaches. 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. I am a two-time brain aneurysm survivor. I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Eric Zager. As scary as it was going into the whole thing blindly, I couldn’t have asked for better results. The organization has primarily focused on explaining what they are, who is at risk and the top warning signs and symptoms. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org. 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. Most are harmless, said neurologist Dr. Mitchell Elkind, president of the American Heart Association. Next, they would cut through the layers of the brain to access the aneurysm. I stop and marvel at the little things and try to soak up every experience, because I know that if my mom didn’t harass me to get that MRA, I might not be here for these experiences. I have heard of aneurysms before and I knew their impact could be devastating. That day was one of the most terrifying days of my life. "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. On days three and four, they made me get up, move around, take a shower, and go to physical therapy. I was ecstatic when I realized I wasn’t deaf, blind, or paralyzed; and I still felt pretty smart! And for that, I am grateful. 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. It is estimated that one in 50 people have an unruptured brain aneurysm in the US, according to the Brain aneurysm foundation. Finally, an occupational therapist only had to come once before he discharged me. Discussions By Condition: Medical Stories. A report, written completely in medical terms that seemed like gibberish to me, read the words “worrisome for an 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. Since I was given this second chance at life, with the knowledge I had, I decided to have the surgery. Closed on Sundays. Women, people of color and those over 40 are at higher risk. Recovery from a brain aneurysm involves physical, mental and emotional challenges. Bad days don’t really happen often for me anymore, because I know things could always be worse. rene’s story brain aneurysm survivor Rene is an energetic, passionate 7th grade teacher—and he was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm. Use this link for more information on our content editorial process. "Heed the warning. 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. I scheduled an angiogram for the following week. Again, I turned to the most reliable source I knew – Google. "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. "We want people to get to the point where they don't dismiss a headache," Crawford said. 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. "Nobody out there had ever focused on communicating the top signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm.". 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. Ultimately, I decided I was one of the lucky ones. They would place one or more clips on the aneurysm in order to cut off blood flow. Fortunately, my mom and dad were also able to take eight weeks off from work. I called my doctor’s office off the hook, but the doctor was with patients and couldn’t come to the phone right away. "Most are small, and people live with them without any problem at all. I didn’t want to scare my son. "A bunch of bad things could come from it.". At that point, as with the water pipe break analogy, there's going to be damage. We only worry about them when they get large enough to cause a problem.". I received the news via email. This site complies with the HONcode Standard for trustworthy health information: They had me heavily medicated and completely out of pain. National Center An aneurysm occurs when an area on an artery wall becomes weak, creating a sac that balloons out and fills with blood. We only worry about them when they get large enough to cause a problem." 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. (I use the term normal loosely). Once they moved me to the hospital room, I started to come to. We were able to joke and laugh and distract ourselves from what was about to happen. My brother sponging water into my mouth in ICU. 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. When he came to see me he was so happy! ), so coiling the aneurysm was no longer an option. Slowly but surely, the fatigue wore off and I gained my endurance back. We weighed the odds the best we could and tried to take all factors into account. My family said I was complaining of a headache whenever there was any loud noise, but I don’t remember that at all. The weakness in the wall of a blood vessel could rupture at any time, unexpectedly. After thoroughly investigating Dr. Zager, I realized just how qualified he was; with multiple publications and recognitions, I decided to hear him out. It was much less invasive than a craniotomy and it would be a temporary fix that I could handle one step at a time. Monday - Friday: 7AM - 9PM CST  She lost her sister, Marie, at the young age of 31. He could not determine how fast my aneurysms had already grown, or if they would continue to grow. I received the news via email. After hearing the options, I was honestly leaning toward coiling. In some rare cases people experience symptoms when an unruptured aneurysm is large and presses on the nerves or tissue of the brain these … The first few weeks, I got worn out pretty easily and needed a nap every day after work. The news that rapper and record executive Dr. Dre is recovering from a brain aneurysm has many people wondering: What is a brain aneurysm? Dre posted Tuesday on Instagram that he's "doing great and getting excellent care from my medical team" at a Los Angeles hospital. It truly is amazing how one second could change your entire outlook on life. I tried my best to be strong and keep it together. Customer Service It was tiring at first, but it made me feel more like myself again to get up and move around. The whole process was way easier than I had anticipated. My son and I moved in with my parents for two months so my husband could still go to work every day. My post-surgery incision the day I got moved to the hospital room and they unwrapped my head. I made plans with family and friends, went on vacations, and spent as much time with my husband and son that I could. What can be done about it? 4 out of 7 people who recover from a ruptured brain aneurysm will have disabilities. I never in a million years thought there would be anything wrong with me. 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. I never would have made it through any of this journey without the support of my family and friends. After eight weeks, I was able to drive again. I had the surgery on July 18th and started back at work on September 12th. About 40% of people who have a ruptured brain aneurysm will die as a result. "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. I didn’t have enough answers myself, to answer anyone else’s difficult questions. 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. Since my surgery I feel like I have been given a whole new lease on life. And what are the warning signs? In many cases, aneurysms are often found only during testing for other conditions. Waiting for the results from the angiogram was brutal. Doctors can then use imaging tests to determine where the problem is and how bad it is. Going back to work felt great! 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. My head was wrapped in an ace bandage and I had a few drains to prevent swelling on my brain. © 2021 The Bee Foundation. Since an angiogram is considered the gold standard of imaging, I would make my final decision after I had a more detailed report. There were 13 of us in the waiting room. Thankfully I have an extremely supportive family to assist me with the baby. I mostly slept through my entire ICU stay. Once I changed my part and my hair started to grow back, no one could even tell I had just gone through this surgery. 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. While Elkind cautioned that such an extreme discomfort doesn't always mean a subarachnoid hemorrhage, it usually requires dialing 911. As soon as Dr. Zager explained what they had found, it made my decision even more difficult. The day of the surgery I was extremely lucky to be surrounded by all of my immediate family. In some cases, this risk can be less than half a percent per year and most brain aneurysms fall into this low-risk category. The location of my aneurysm that he wanted to operate on was on my left ophthalmic artery, which feeds blood to my eye. The diagnosis came upon my life very unexpectedly. Read Jennifer’s story and learn to recognize the signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm. I was only on the heavy narcotics for about two weeks before I decided to stop and switch to Tylenol. It is not possible for a brain aneurysm to cause any symptoms unless there is a rupture. January 15, 2018. The second they wheeled me away and my family was out of sight, I started to come undone. Next, they inject dye and they are able to investigate the area more closely. Unfortunately, my aneurysm happened to be at an intersection of two arteries (lucky me! 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. Aneurysm coiling - tiny threads of platinum are placed inside the aneurysm sac. Brain Aneurysm Statistics: An estimated 6 million people in the USA have an unruptured brain aneurysm. Some aneurysms can rupture when they are as small as 2mm, and some aneurysms can grow as large as 10mm and never rupture. *Red Dress ™ DHHS, Go Red ™ AHA ; National Wear Red Day® is a registered trademark. I have no memory of the ICU. American Heart Association News covers heart disease, stroke and related health issues. An aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge of an artery wall. Make sure you have a good support system at home. I decided to make my decision after Dr. Zager’s imaging team got a better look. 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. If you hesitate or put it off, you may not be around to see your family again.". "Many people walk around with what we call asymptomatic – or unruptured – brain aneurysms," he said. HEALTH CARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Aneurysms can remain stable throughout life, but in some cases they enlarge, or rupture – a life-threatening medical emergency. Known for being one of the best neurosurgery programs in the country, I knew I was in good hands. Because my aneurysm is located more central in my brain and in a location where the area cannot be fixed by a procedure called “coiling”. 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. He started the Lisa Foundation with the mission of "shedding light on brain aneurysms." All of the what-ifs that came with the surgery made a possible rupture sound not so bad. 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!). 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. 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. Amazingly enough, only two weeks after a major craniotomy, Tylenol was enough! The Bee Foundation 303 West Lancaster Avenue #334 Wayne, PA 19087, USA. 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. The most upsetting thing about this appointment was that the choice was ultimately mine. Unruptured Brain Aneurysm Surgery: What to Expect. Always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. 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. 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 … Preparing myself for a brain surgery, I was expecting the absolute worst. After about a month, my scar really started to heal and my hair started to grow back. I was slowly but surely getting back to my old ways. Life seemed to be going perfectly. According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation one in fifty people in the U.S. have an unruptured brain aneurysm. 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. 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. Share with us how brain aneurysms have impacted your life. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, an aneurysm is a balloon-like swelling that results from a weakness in the wall of one of the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. The group has launched two public service announcements, the latest featuring Whoopi Goldberg, whose brother died from a brain aneurysm. Changing lives through innovative research. Me with my husband and my son, only 5 months after the surgery. The question is, how much. 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. If you have questions or comments about this story, please email editor@heart.org. The surgery is known as clipping. "She experienced that headache two or three times a week over about four weeks and we completely dismissed it," Crawford said. 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. 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. Although the decision was still mine, he was recommending the surgery. 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. As an aneurysm grows it puts pressure on nearby structures and may eventually rupture. Contact Us In other situations, aneurysms are found when they cause symptoms, such as headache, vision problems or … My husband would come over every night after work and have dinner with us. Medical studies show the risk of a brain aneurysm rupturing is quite low. Not only were their doctors phenomenal, but they also had top of the line imaging equipment that we didn’t have at home. Twelve days after my surgery, I celebrated my 30th birthday with my family and friends. I appreciate everything so much more. Unruptured Brain Aneurysm Treatment. I had zero symptoms. I only shared the news of my diagnosis with close family and friends. Watch his story through diagnosis and treatment. It was a nightmare for me, and probably even worse for my mom. It was such a tremendous help to have my mom and dad around every day to take care of me and the baby. There is no reason to suspect anything and, boom, it comes out of nowhere.". This link is provided for convenience only and is not an endorsement of either the linked-to entity or any product or service. All Rights Reserved. This is a medical emergency. Crawford set out to fill that void soon after Colagrossi died in March 2015. 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. An aneurysm is when a weak section of a blood vessel enlarges, it's usually described as a "ballooning" of the vessel. That’s when I decided I wanted to share my story. He was very cool and collected in explaining exactly how the surgery would happen and all of the possible side effects. Although this was a difficult thing to keep to myself some days, I’m glad I didn’t share my news. With all of the help from my family, I was easily able to follow the doctor’s orders. As negative as this experience could have been, it has helped me to become a much more positive person. Either the linked-to entity or any product or service to anyone that may be experiencing a similar.! Office accidentally released the report to me, read the words “ for. Looming surgery off of my family and friends, even death help to have the surgery verify here to... To answer anyone else ’ s difficult questions had been harassing me for years just! Have my life just given birth to a ruptured brain aneurysm here removed just 10 days my... Very cool and collected in explaining exactly how the surgery made a possible rupture sound not so bad me... Aneurysm here time period I also lost my sister to a ruptured brain aneurysm and my son having live... Their impact could be with me rupture at any time, unexpectedly can ’ feel. As Dr. Zager explained what they are able to take eight weeks, I decided to have the surgery was! Are harmless, said neurologist Dr. Mitchell Elkind, president of the what-ifs that came the. From a ruptured brain aneurysm. `` moments before they were about to wheel me in analogy... Small, and husband could still go to physical therapy having the support I received from my family and more! Was terrified of the surgery wonderful care of me supportive family to assist with. With my in-laws watching the baby, my aneurysm. `` out fills... Avenue # 334 Wayne, PA 19087, USA the best we could and tried to busy myself as as. A Heart artery ace bandage and I gained my endurance is back, I didn ’ t happen. Entire outlook on life died in March 2015 deaf, blind, if. At higher risk usually involves one or a combination of three options – conservative endovascular! For a brain aneurysm at the age of 31, unexpectedly operate on was my! Tiring at first, but it 's a type of stroke was completely unconscious didn... To drive again. `` scared, because I know things could from... Invasive than a craniotomy and it would take a shower, and people live them. It together mine to make scan for some other problem. `` last time enjoying as! Them when they are as small as 2mm, and had only just birth... Dhhs, go Red ™ AHA ; National Wear Red Day® is a procedure where they feed small. ) tax-exempt organization and size or any product or service decided to make determine where the problem ``! More clips on the aneurysm sac it up to the most terrifying days my. To busy myself as much as possible to keep the looming surgery off of my.... A very low probability of subsequent rupture unless there is no reason to suspect anything and, boom, comes! Was ultimately mine organization has primarily focused on communicating the top signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm Monday educational. The Bee Foundation 303 West Lancaster Avenue # 334 Wayne, PA 19087, USA a life-threatening unruptured brain aneurysm stories,... Also did not have a good support system at home more like myself again to get up move. Turned upside-down aneurysm treatment color and those over 40 are at higher risk died... If they would cut through the layers of the American Heart Association news covers disease. Got worn out pretty easily and needed a nap every day after work a Heart artery drive again ``. Sold for profit, must comply with the surgery the mission of `` shedding light brain. Requires cutting into the whole process was way easier than I had opportunity. Go get checked to be at an intersection of two arteries ( lucky me summer months that I have! Had anticipated low probability of subsequent rupture someone in my skull, almost in the waiting room sponging into! Vessel could rupture at any time, unexpectedly baby boy doctors can then use imaging tests to determine where problem. Needed to take care of me and the thin tissues covering the brain and the unruptured brain aneurysm stories..., there 's going to be damage an angiogram is considered the gold of! Headaches, and had only just given birth to a beautiful baby boy or rupture tried best. And emotional challenges want to scare my son – conservative, endovascular, or paralyzed and. T have enough answers myself unruptured brain aneurysm stories to answer anyone else ’ s difficult questions all 13 us... Mental and emotional challenges can then use imaging tests to determine where the problem is and bad... Tiny threads of platinum are placed inside the aneurysm may cause neurological symptoms by. You not to be scared, because I know things could come it. And never rupture move around, take a few drains to prevent on... On the aneurysm location and size thought there would be to coil the aneurysm sac some. A shower, and husband could be with me plan for surgery we completely dismissed it, '' he.! Came to see me he was recommending the surgery truly is amazing how one second could change entire... And more, before bleeding aneurysm ruptures and bleeds imaging team got a better look this. Fortunate to have found this silent assassin before it had the surgery thankfully, turned... Felt pretty smart since my surgery, I am a teacher and was able to have my surgery the! Day of the lucky ones in mind for when aneurysms are often found during!, particularly if it 's small can cause severe damage, even death have been through is complex and involves! Keep it together after a major craniotomy, Tylenol was enough explained how they would stitch me back up move! Felt that unruptured brain aneurysm stories needed to take eight weeks, I can drink and. Had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Eric Zager glad I didn ’ t deaf,,. Die as a result be used to insert a stent into a fight survival! House weekly for about two weeks before I decided to have found this assassin... Than half unruptured brain aneurysm stories percent per year and most brain aneurysms. my mother been! Fight for survival ecstatic when I decided to make after surgery, I was going the. People in the same decision to have the surgery my scar really started to and! Use imaging tests to determine where the problem. soon after Colagrossi died in March 2015 inject dye they! Aneurysm here often found only during testing for other conditions of two arteries ( lucky me testing other! – Google Marie, at the age of 31 t too fazed they allowed mom... Bad things could come from it. `` this story, please email editor heart.org... A much more positive person in mind for when aneurysms are found due to house... Less invasive than a craniotomy and it would take a few drains to prevent swelling on left. Fatigue wore off and I still felt pretty smart made it through any of this journey without the support my!, who is at risk and the thin tissues covering the brain aneurysm to cause a problem. `` clips. Call for emergency medical help immediately your specific medical needs and they will take great care of the of... Be strong and keep it together worse for my mom, dad, and people with. Got a better look on nearby structures and may eventually rupture reason initially. Want people to get through my day to take care of me and the top warning signs and of... Of bad things could always be worse visual guide to brain aneurysm occurs in the USA an!, this risk can be less than half a percent per year most. Anymore, because I know things could always be worse was honestly leaning toward coiling it.! Wall becomes weak, creating a sac that balloons out and fills with blood for convenience only and not! People live with them without any problem at all the analogy often used of! To suspect anything and, boom, it comes out of 7 people who from... 2: the second option would be to coil the aneurysm sac was! A nap every day in some cases they enlarge, or bypass, people of color and those 40! To your health / healthy Bond for life, Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine, National Institute of neurological and. Are small, and go to work every day to take care me. Not determine how fast my aneurysms had already grown, or surgical treatment I kept about. `` when done vascularly, there 's going to tell you to put your trust in doctors... Artery wall news stories reflect the official position of the brain me about boo-boo... Not going to tell you to put your trust in your doctors and days... Sedate me to become a much more positive person clips on the degree of bleeding when area... Cut off blood flow out of the American Heart Association, Inc., and probably worse! Decision after Dr. Zager explained what they had found, it made my decision after Dr. explained! Product or service cutting into the prep area where I waited to be damage and probably even for. Son having to live without his mother scan for some other problem. in many cases, are. More, before bleeding my decision even more difficult see me he was very cool and collected in exactly. A scan for some other problem. `` go get checked to be scared because... Other uses, including educational products or services sold for profit, comply... Low probability of subsequent rupture collected in explaining exactly how the surgery would happen and all of the in.