After the Angiogram

On Friday of last week, I had the cerebral angiogram. This time was much quicker — the surgeon took fewer images since he knew exactly what area he needed to see.

The good news is that the stent area has healed with no weird formations. The aneurysm still hasn’t grown or changed shape, which is not exactly good news, but it is what we expected.

After the angiogram, I had a headache and felt fatigued for days. I’m still a bit more tired than usual today (Tuesday, four days after the procedure).

Next up is the clipping surgery. There are some great videos online about this, including this a patient account. Her aneurysm was unruptured: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRtQeqVuXFs There are many, many videos of the actual surgery on YouTube, but only watch those if you have a strong stomach.

pe-aneurclipping_figure1So, what is a clipping if you don’t feel like watching a video? Well, it’s simply clipping off the ruptured place in my brain so that the blood can’t get there and that area can’t rupture again. For me, the clipping will be in between the stent and the coiling, so it’s a bit more complicated, but the idea is the same.  The surgeon (or someone else, I suppose) will cut open my head, including a part of my skull, then move the gray matter a bit until he gets to the offending blood vessel. Then, he’ll place a small device, called a clip, on the aneurysm. He’ll then put contrast in my brain to ensure that the blood isn’t going back into the aneurysm. After that, he’ll close me back up, including putting the part of my skull that had been cut out back in, and sew me back together.

I’ll spend about a week in the Neuro ICU, then be back at home recovering for about two months, and end up with a really gnarly scar. The recovery is supposed to be pretty rough — I can expect more headaches, fatigues, and some balance problems. After my brain explosion, I had a lot of trouble with words and memory, which may be a problem again since the aneurysm is in the communication center of my brain. I’m hopeful, though, since there’s no rupture that I won’t have that part again. I still, six months later, have a hard time remembering names of places, people, medicine, etc…. It’s like the rupture affected only proper nouns, but I suppose that’s still better than the alternative.

The surgery is scheduled for about two weeks from now, and I’m glad that it will be over sooner rather than later. I was really worried that I’d have to spend months waiting for this to happen, so it’s somewhat comforting to just moving towards getting the whole thing done.

 

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The Next Step

Tomorrow, I go into the hospital for another cerebral angiogram. This is my fourth or fifth one of these. For the first two or three, I was knocked out and don’t remember anything. For this last one, I was awake, mostly, and remember the whole thing. The material provided and online says that these procedures are mostly painless. This is only somewhat true.

When the dye went into my head, I felt hot and flushed. I also felt a pounding pressure, like the beginning of an awful headache. As the dye exited, the headache/pressure pain felt went with it. Since there were about 20-4,000 images taken, with every image requiring contrast, you can imagine that saying this was “painless” is not quite true.  (I exaggerate, but there were quite a few doses of the contrast material).

After the CT angiogram, I’ll find out how the aneurysm is doing now that the stent has healed and then get scheduled for the clipping surgery. My next post will be about the clipping and what that means/will do.