What Had Happened Was

If you’re reading this, you may not know that my seeming lacking in grammar title is actually a Southern colloquialism, which translates (mostly) to: I’m about to tell you more about the situation. Typically, this is said after someone has made an announcement without preamble, as in the following scenario:

See, boyfriend, I kissed another boy. But before you get angry, what had happened was…

And then the full explanation is given. I know in this case, I’ve already provided a preamble, but I do think it might be a good idea to give some not fun-medical description of my brain explosion, so you’ll know what happened. See, when my brain exploded, what had happened was this:

In the left anterior communication center of my brain, a tiny artery (that branches off from a parent artery) ruptured, resulting in a subarachnoid hemorrhage (medical abbreviation: SAH). The resulting aneurysm is shaped like a boot or a Christmas stocking. Blood spilled in my brain and went into two tiny little rivulets on both sides of my brain (and to any motherfucker who says that brains can’t feel, I say a resounding FUCK YOU. That shit HURT, and I felt it in my brain.. and eyes and head and ears and body and every fucking place).


After the rupture, doctors went into my head with a catheter (threaded into my brain using access from my groin. Can you believe that? They went all the way to my brain from a tiny incision halfway down my body? Medicine is fucking cool). The catheter contained tiny platinum coils, think of a Slinky, that they released into the aneurysm. This was meant to stop the bleeding and repair the aneurysm. In the picture here, you see a tiny balloon with a tiny neck. That’s the ideal situation for a coiling of an aneurysm. My situation is far from ideal. Remember what I told you mine looks like? Yes…a boot or a Christmas sock. I have a wide-neck, ruptured aneurysm, so the coiling basically only stitched up the bottom of the boot/sock.

So, after the coiling, I spent two weeks in the hospital worried about vasospasm. This sounds like a Doctor Who monster, but it’s actually when arteries/veins close off in response to stress. They do this in some misguided attempt to shut off blood flow to stop a problem, but this can actually be deadly. See, the first part of the problem is TOO much blood (hemorrhagic), but the vasospasm causes the opposite problem of TOO little blood, which is called ischemic. I had some mild vasospasms for about the first week, which they measured by listening to blood flow in my brain with a sonogram (again, medicine is fucking cool).

After a couple of weeks, they repeated the CT and found out that the blood had stopped flowing into my brain, but that the boot was still filling with blood. Why does that matter? Well, just imagine a water balloon. It can only stretch and fill for so long, then POP. The POP would be another aneurysm, which I likely wouldn’t survive because there wouldn’t be a lot of options for stopping the blood flow without causing an ischemic stroke.

pe-aneurcoiling_figure6So, two weeks after the initial event, they placed a stent, which is supposed to work like this picture. See the coils go up the the stent and the whole aneurysm is protected and blood flows the way it’s supposed to.

But in my case, that’s not happening. The stent isn’t working. There are coils at the bottom, in the foot part of the sock, and a stent on top, but in the ankle part, there’s nothing. Back to the water balloon image, but this time, picture a snowman. The coils are in the head of the snowman, the parent artery is the ground the snowman sits on, and the body of the snowman is unprotected and filling with blood still.

So, I have to spend three months with a less than 1% chance (you’re telling me there’s a ¬†chance, yeah) ¬†of another rupture, while I wait on the stent location to heal, so that I can have a craniotomy and another surgery — this time I’ll be having a clipping. But, that’s a story for another post.