A Cathartic Experience

This post started as a reply to Robin's discussion "Angry at your aneurysm..." But, I think it fits better under a discussion of my own.

Robin you provided a tremendous service by starting your discussion. Elke, Jo, Amy and Kathy thanks for your insights.

Fear is probably the hardest thing to overcome after learning that you have an annie and having aneurysm surgery. I don't know that you ever completely get over it. I had lunch with a woman yesterday whose sister had an annie clipped. She asked me if I have panic attacks the way her sister does. Fortunately, I don't and I don't recall ever having them. But, I am aware of every change in my body.

I learned not to "fear" the clipped annie long ago. It's fixed. I also learned not to be constantly in fear of my other annies rupturing. I know pretty much what is "normal" for me and I am always watching for the unusual. I'm reminded every day of my annies when I take the anti-convulsant for potential seizures as I have done for almost 42 years. Sue can tell you how freaked out I was a few months ago when I was having a negative response to a change in my medication that was made by the insurance company. Thankfully, I'm back on my preferred name brand med.

I don't remember being angry after my clipping but I do remember being sad for having to miss a semester of school and for being "disfigured" - my face was swollen and purple, there was this gigantic scar on my neck (I later learned that this was a symbol of what probably saved my life) plus the scar on my head, the protruding bone flap, my hair being shaved off. These were all cosmetic issues and with the exception of the scar on my neck, which I have to look for, I see the others every day although generally I'm not very conscious of them.

What stands out in my memory are the words of encouragement and wisdom that I got from my mother's friends, acts of kindness and the unbelievable support (as I reflect on it) from the Dean of Students, the Dean of Women and a several profs when I returned to college and. those who provided support when I went on to graduate school. I remember one of the Profs who complimented me on the shape of my head when I finally got enough courage to take off my wig to reveal my tiny Afro.

[There is a pause here because I started to cry.

I cried because today, I've decided to again take off my wig and reveal a new tiny Afro - this time it has grey in it. I've written about my hair loss before. I am going out in public without my wig this evening for the first time in five years. It seems that one of the benefits of my retirement is that without so much stress my hair is growing back! When I first noticed it, I felt it was an answer to a prayer. It short and still thin in spots and you can see my bone flap. My BAF friends are getting the first view of my "new"/"old" look. Plus, the Zumba class that I took this morning was such a workout that I had to wash my hair and my wig. There's no sense in that!]

Anger is probably what I felt when, after I'd pretty much put the risk of rupture of the three remaining annies out of my mind, the neurologist talked about the risk of annies growing. (I would not have been able to move to a foreign country or do all the solo travel that I've done if I had been constantly worrying).

I was really afraid for the first time in a very long time and disappointed that, just when I'd decided to retire, this new challenge would arise. I was jubilant and very thankful when the angiogram results showed no real changes. Life was unchanged for me so, I went ahead with retirement and planning for what I call, Life Part III. I also felt "free" for the first time to really talk about my aneurysms. For, when I read the stories others have shared, I am very conscious of all the blessings that I've received and the importance for me to offer prayers and to share my experiences with others. I know that many people have prayed for me over the years.

Since we are planning to go to China soon, and in the spirit of being prepared for everything, I sent an e-mail to my neurosurgeon in which I asked if he had contacts in China. I told him that I would like to be prepared should something "go wrong" during our upcoming trip. Within two hours, he responded with names of hospitals and doctors with instructions on where to go in an emergency - Shanghai, Beijing or back to Houston.

Replying to Robin's discussion has been a cathartic event for me. Before I started to cry, I had written that I'd walked this road alone from 1969 to 2011 when I discovered BAF. However, I had to erase that. For, it is clear that I've never been alone. I have been blessed by God and his blessings have been manifested in the people that He has brought into my life, those mentioned above in this posting and all of you in BAF.

I'm going out to dinner with a girlfriend tonight. I told my husband, that I'd use her reaction to judge if it's time for me to go without my wig. :-) Of course, I have the option of wearing the wig whenever I feel like it. Tonight, I feel liberated, blessed and confident to have enough.


Hi Carole, one of my longest and dearest friends on site-does the phrase "You Go Girl" pop in anybodys mind>? I'll bet it does! i hope someday i'll be that confident to go hatless since receeding hairline doesn't cover my shunt

Hi Sue, Jo and Ron,

Thank you for your very kind words.

I did go to dinner without my wig. :slight_smile: I felt confident walking into the restaurant - one of the nicer neighborhood restaurants near me. My girlfriend was very complimentary. Her facial expressions and her words matched. :slight_smile:

We had a great time together.

It was a great day. Now, I have to get some new passport photos to use on my visa.

Take care.


PS I just got a note from my mom, she gave a thumbs up! :-))

Dear Carole, Thank you, may the Lord richly bless you, always. Kathy

Hi Nikki,

I lost my first response so I hope it doesn’t show up twice. :frowning:

First, let me tell you how much I like your new photo. It shows the warmth of your personality. Perhaps we have both undergone a metamorphosis this spring and like caterpillars we have turned into butterflies. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the compliment on my photo. It is the “real” me and it certainly is freeing. I’ve worn my hair in a natural hairstyle most of my adult like.

I will have my iPad with me on my trip, so I may send a picture from the great wall of China or from the Terra Cotta soldiers. :slight_smile:

Take care.


Thanks, Elke.

I appreciate your kind words and the wisdom that you share in your postings.

It is indeed a blessing to me if something that I write helps someone else.

May God continue to bless you.


Thanks, Kathy.

Take care.


~ And so I read and read again, and Cry...

You are a Beautiful person Carole...you touch my Heart and life almost daily with what you write...~

We are richer to have you to inspire each of us ~

Cyber~hugs Colleen, xoxoxoxox

Thanks, Nikki.

I’m so happy that things are going better for you.

May God continue to shower blessings upon you.


Thanks, Colleen for your very kind words. They mean a lot to me.

Take care


I am new to the site and slowly going through old posts. I came across this one this evening and summarizes, in a poignant way, some of the feelings that I've had. I am new to this game and had some issues with my recovery - However, I am battling on, praying and doing everything I can to get better (to the other side, I call it ;=) Thanks so much for sharing this wisdom for those of us that are going through it now. Take care and pray that you continue to be well and without your wig (I just cut my hair off several weeks ago - it was natural and to my shoulders, but very damaged during my recovery....) My hubby loves the TWA. Be well, LJB

You are a mentor ! You are a warrior and survivor, sent here to inspire others ! I am happy to have befriended you! Truly an amazing women. Thank you for your story and words of wisdom, as bittersweet tears roll down my face! I can just picture you walking strong and tall and your beauty radiating! Warmest regards, REG

Hi Lseejay and REG. Thanks for your comments. It’s hard to believe that it is almost two years since I wrote the above post.

I’m still wearing my short Afro and from time to time I get nice compliments on it. I’m especially struck when they come from people I’ve just met such as the “older” lady I met last week. I gave my wigs away last year.

I continue to be blessed and I am very thankful. The annies are not giving me any problems and I’m not bothering them. :slight_smile: We didn’t make it to China, though. I came down with a virus the day before the trip. However, we did go on a safari in South Africa. It was a fantastic experience. I was halfway through the trip before I realized how far away I was from “decent medical care” since we were in a very remote location. The important thing is that I was not afraid. The flight home included a marvelous view of the big dipper at 40k ft.

For these and so many other blessings, I give thanks to God. Thanks for your prayers.

Take care.