angiogram, aneurysms, cerebral angiogram, brain,

A Kaiser Cocktail & a Bikini Shave

Three weeks ago, I had my annual MRI. An annual MRI was recommended by my neurologist since she found two unruptured aneurysms in my brain and wanted to monitor them for changes in size etc. Two hours after the MRI the neurologist called, it didn’t think it was a good sign when the doctor calls immediately and on a Friday afternoon! She called to tell me that one of the aneurysms have gotten larger and needed to be treated. I needed to get a cerebral angiogram to determine what treatment is needed.  I would have two choices: coiling or clipping both are invasive (clipping more than coiling) and there are major risk involved. Besides, I do not really want anyone tinkering with my brain. I was freaking out. The angiogram was scheduled for September 18th.  I was a bundle of nerves that week. I looked up YouTube videos of the procedure, my level of anxiety was high.  Friday before the procedure a nurse called to reschedule the appointment! Ahhhhh one more week of hand wringing!

September 25th, Vincent drove me to my appointment at the Kaiser in Redwood

Cheesing it up before they take pics of my brain. PC: Armando

City.  I was told that the procedure would last about an hour with a 4-5 hour recovery time.  After being prepped with IVs and a short chat with the neurosurgeon, I was wheeled into the procedure room.

There was a large monitor just above the bed and multiple medical cameras.  One of the nurses told me he was giving me a “cocktail” through the IV.  I was given combination of Versed and Fentanyl. Another nurse proceeded to shave a small area by my groin. She even shaved the other side “to make things even” haha. Feeling relaxed and loose I said something like “wow, this is just  like a resort vacation! I get a cocktail and a shave!” the nurses laughed as I am sure they hear all kinds of drug induced mutterings.

After I was injected with a local anesthetic, a catheter was inserted into my femoral artery. I found out that the femoral artery is a direct highway to the neck where a dye will be injected and more detailed pictures of my brain could be taken. I was instructed to hold my breath while the cameras took photos of my brain. I felt a slight warming sensation when a dye is given to me prior to taking the photos. When I closed my eyes, I saw bright, colors!  I guess now I know the inspiration for “Yellow Submarine”.  One of the nurses put pressure on the incision for 20 minutes to stop the bleeding and to seal the cut.  It was awkward! I asked him a bunch of questions to make time go by quickly. I asked why the cut is done by the groin, when the neck would be closer. 

colored angiogram slide.
My brain is lit!

I was wheeled back to the recovery area where I had been instructed to lie still for the next 4 hours. I. was. STARVING. I haven’t eaten since 9 P.M the day before and it was already 2:00 P.M.  A nurse brought in a  bland turkey sandwich I had to eat lying down. I fell asleep despite the every 15 minute wound check.

The neurosurgeon came by with really good news. He said that the aneurysms are small and would not need to be treated. Yay! No one would need to drill a hole in my head! He mentioned that he still needs to confer with the neuro team regarding the results, but they usually listen to his recommendations, so he was confident with the initial prognosis. He also mentioned that the MRI & the angiogram results are complicated, as my brain is more complicated than others he has seen. Now I have medical proof that I am complicated!  

I am grateful that I do not have to worry about this too much anymore. Having two unruptured aneurysms in my brain had been on my mind these past couple of years. I referred to them as two ticking time bombs. In a way, I am glad that this cerebral angiogram was ordered.  It gave me a more realistic vision of what is in my brain. I am relieved.  I now could focus on recovery and getting stronger. I could prevent the aneurysms from growing by keeping my blood pressure at the normal range which I can achieve through a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. And avoiding stress (yeah I know, easier said than done.)  

The doctor, nurses and other staff at Kaiser Redwood City were very knowledgable, nice and accommodating. They definitely put me at ease. If any of them happen to read this, Thank you so very much!

For the next couple of days, I have to take it easy. No heavy lifting or strenuous walking. But by this weekend, I will get back to the grind!

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Bernadette

I am a 45 year old wife and mother. My husband of 20 years and I are in charge of shaping and moulding the lives of two young men who are now 18 & 14. Two years ago, our idyllic life was thrown into a loop when I had a hemorrhagic stroke. I now have to deal with a disability that I am working to rehabilitate. It has been a long, tough road but my family and I trekking it together.

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