Last fall I made the decision to retire in February 2012. I’d qualified for full retirement with no reduction of benefits and had “earned the right” to a less structured life. I wanted to spend more time doing things that I’ve always wanted to do, but have been too busy or too tired to do. I wanted not to have to squeeze all of the things that I do for me and for others into a couple of hours after work or on Saturdays and Sundays. So, I told my manager that I planned to retire but that I wanted to wait until January to make it official.
In the November, my Tegretol prescription was to be refilled but there was an issue with the availability of the formulation that I have been taking for the past 25 years. To make long story short - I was referred to a neurologist to discuss whether I should change to another anti seizure medication.
In my history, I included details of my aneurysm rupture back in 1969 and the three aneurysms that were diagnosed in 1977. He asked who was following these annies and I told him no one. [I hadn’t had an angiogram since 1984. At that time, I was told by the neurosurgeon, under whose auspices the test was performed, that he did not recommend repeat angiogram for the near future (I confirmed this when I read his notes again today). After my last seizure, he recommended that I have a repeat angiogram in 1993 but I blew it off. ……Fast forward back to 2011.]
You can probably imagine that the neurologist was somewhat aghast to learn that I had not had a study in almost 30 years!!! In addition to recommending no change to my seizure med, he strongly recommended that I talk with the neurosurgeon that “technically” follows me to see if he still felt that repeat angiography was not needed. My initial reaction was to blow this off, too. Then I recalled that two nights before, I’d had a dream in which I was found to have new aneurysms, so this started to make me wonder if maybe I should have a new test. But, I didn’t take any action. I was too busy.
Two weeks later at my follow-up appointment, this time to evaluate my muscle and nerve pain in my hands and arms, the first question the neurologist asked was whether I’d call the neurosurgeon. I told him that I had not. He again stressed that I should call. This time, the sincerity of his questioning and his stressing that aneurysms can grow (something that I’d not though about) plus my dream made me take action. I called for an appointment the next day.
Because the neurosurgeon that had followed me no longer does surgery, he referred me to a younger associate, a very capable doctor who both my husband and I like. His youth didn’t bother me as I recalled that my surgery had been performed by a surgeon who had only 82 patients before me. Of course, the new neurosurgeon recommended that I have an angiogram. I started to prepare for the possible findings. I also put my retirement plans on hold pending outcome of the tests and any treatment.
I became a member of BAF and learned a lot about other people’s experiences and treatment. A whole new world was opened. I’d never really discussed my experience with anyone other than a doctor. I have been quite humbled by what I’ve learned as I read postings and responded to your questions. I’ve also come to know just how very blessed I have been. I’ve even felt a little guilty for praying that it would be God’s will that I not have any new aneurysms.
The angiogram was done last week and my prayer was granted. I have no new aneurysms. Today, my husband and I met with the neurosurgeon and we learned that another blessing has been granted. There is no emergency and I was not urged to have any treatment at this time. Watchful waiting is considered a good option for me.
I have a 5 mm annie in the interior communicator artery that, based on comparison with written reports of past studies, is now larger than it was in 1984 or 1977. Unfortunately, there are no films available to compare. Even if films were available, they would hardly be useful due to the changes in technology. The other annies are both about 2 mm.
WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?
Before posting this, my husband and I both got down on our knees and gave thanks for this tremendous blessing.
In about an hour, I’m going to put on my slinky new black dress and my new high heeled shoes and we’ll go to our favorite restaurant, and sit at a table of our favorite waiter, to celebrate this good news.
On Monday, I will return to the office (I worked from home this week) and ask my manager to submit the forms required to make my retirement official so that I can start the next phase of my life.
Am I afraid? I'd be dishonest if I said no. But for the last 42 years I've lived with the knowledge that within a twinkle of an eye my life could dramatically change – one of the aneurysms could rupture so not much has changed. I can truthfully say that I have not lived my life in fear but in awareness, I've also known that if one of the annies should rupture, my experience and recovery might not be anything like what I experienced in 1969. I expect to calm down soon. I will continue to trust that God will watch over me and keep me safe, wherever I may be. He always has. And, I will try to live a good life.
Once I calm down and can focus on travel planning again, I will start to plan a trip to China for later this year. My husband and I are going to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We are plan to take my mother along with us in joyous celebration of another blessing – that she is able (and interested) to go with us. She had open heart surgery in 2010 and has had a miraculous recovery. Her doctor has cleared her to go. :-)
I'm glad that I had the angiogram and now have updated information. The hospital record retention policy has changed and my old records would have been discarded soon. My new study will be available for the next 10 years and the files will have the highlights of the old records as well.
I do, plan to have a repeat angiogram in 1 year to see what has changed, if anything. Then we’ll go from there.
I offer my sincere thanks to everyone for your support and prayers these past week. I’ve really appreciated the friendship and the opportunity to learn so much from you. I also appreciate having the chance to offer support when I could. I probably won’t be on the site as often as I have been but, BAF members will always be in my thoughts and prayers. Please don’t hesitate to respond to this posting, put a comment on my page or send a friend request, if you would like to keep in touch.