In January 2018, I hit my head pretty hard and went to the doctor. It was not serious but I decided to bring up something I had thought about for years. I figured I had already paid the co=pay and should get a few more things in. I asked if I could get tested for a brain aneurysm. The doctor looked at me like I was crazy. And you might be thinking the same thing. Let me explain.
When I was eight years old, my mother had two ruptured brain aneurysms-one on each side- that were clamped. Miraculously she survived though the recovery was long and there were long lasting effects. My mother was grateful to be alive since her own mother died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 35, my mother’s age at the time. My uncle had also been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm in his late 40s and had undergone coiling. I had never done too much research but for some reason, I have always had a “feeling” that I may have one. I know it sounds ridiculous since there aren’t really any symptoms unless it ruptures. Now let’s go back to the doctor’s office. I pleaded with the doctor who finally agreed to refer to me to a neurologist. My arguments were my family history and my “feeling”. The first neurologist insisted it was a bad idea to get tested and to know and also said the test was very uncomfortable. I figured it would be more uncomfortable to die. I was a healthy 30 year old asking for a test on a whim. To some degree, I understand. However, I got a second opinion and finally convinced another neurologist. I got tested and sure enough it was uncomfortable- I remember the dye making me so nauseous and feeling weird for a few days. About a week later, I got called into an appointment with a neurointerventionist. You might know this but when it’s not serious doctors will tell you over the phone.
I met with a neurointerventionist who explained that I had an unruptured aneurysm behind my left eye. He went into immense detail about the procedural options. He explained that I would undergo an angiogram in which he would be able to tell the size and shape more closely. He said if it’s not too big and not an odd shape maybe we can just monitor it. Again, the angiogram was intense and uncomfortable. Sure enough, his nurse called me and said I had to come in.
During my second meeting with the neuro interventionist, he explained that my brain aneurysm was a bad shape and bigger than he had first thought. He also strongly advised a procedure due to my “strong family history”. I opted for the pipeline procedure as it was the least invasive. I was out of work for two months and will need to take baby aspirin for the rest of my life. My procedure was in December 2018 and in June 2019, I got an “all clear”.
I recently came across this organization and was really inspired to share my story. I remember my neurointerventionist saying it’s not hereditary but I did read that the weakness in the artery walls is genetic. Whatever the case may be, I do wish there was more awareness about testing and what the criteria is. I just turned 33 a few days ago and who knows if I would have made it had I not insisted on getting tested. It’s absolutely horrifying that there are no symptoms and it’s a sudden killer.