My story -- (I know -- too long!) :-)

Not sure if this is the place to post this, but I couldn't find another place that seemed better.

Here's my story:

Went to primary care doc in May with a collection of issues: severe fatigue, severe double vision, left-side weakness, shortness of breath, etc. -- some neurological, some not, some had been going on for awhile, some were relatively new. Was referred to a neuro, who tentatively diagnosed multiple sclerosis based on symptoms plus two existing MRIs (I have a small non-functioning pituitary adenoma and a small meningioma that are being watched). She ordered another MRI, but results were inconclusive. Still, she was "95% sure" that my problem was MS.

In September, my insurance dropped her, so I had to get another referral. Saw the new guy in late October. As convinced as the first neuro was that I have MS, he was equally convinced that I did not. His take on the MRIs: I've had a series of TIAs. Also, I have a severely pinched nerve in my neck (that I knew already). Basically, all the issues are caused by 2 or 3 different things, NOT MS. He ordered MRAngiograms: brain, neck, and eyes/orbits, which were done on Friday, Nov. 11.

Last Friday, we went over the results of those MRAs. They did, indeed, show evidence of TIAs, and I'm on low-dose aspirin regimen now for that. But, as he put it, "I saw something I did NOT expect to see": a fairly large cerebral aneurysm. (Still not sure what "fairly large" means - test results and notes haven't been posted online yet.) The position is consistent with my double vision problem -- it appears to be very close to the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, in a spot that he said would probably preclude "clipping" as a solution (too risky). And while coiling will likely help prevent a rupture, it won't solve the vision problem, as it will still be resting against the nerve. Much to consider.

I'm now waiting for referrals to a neurosurgeon to deal with the compressed disk and wonky C5 vertebra in my neck that are causing a boat-load of issues, and another to a cerebrovascular surgeon to deal with the aneurysm. I live in a small town in northern WA state, so for sure I'll be heading to the "big city" (Seattle) for the cerebrovascular surgeon consult. The neck thing can probably be done locally, as we have an excellent neuro / ortho / spine / joint surgery team here.

Soooooo … it's been 52 hours since I first heard the words "cerebral aneurysm," and I find myself swinging between two primary emotions: 1) abject terror ("OMG! This thing could BLOW at ANY MINUTE!!!!!!!" and 2) calm acceptance ("OK, so now we know what's going on. There really is something there. It's NOT all in your head! - Well, technically it is, but … "). The good news is that my blood pressure is consistently very good (115-125 / 65-75), and I quit smoking in 1992, There is no family history of aneurysm, either -- I'm the first as far as I know. Oh yeah -- and I'm 60 yrs old, retired in 2003 after 32 yrs in software development, last 6 years of that as principal database designer with; since then, I completed my undergraduate degree in music (2006), and nearly completed a M.Mus. in Music History and Lit, until I ran out of steam writing the thesis.

I'm not planning to change my holiday travel plans: I'm taking the train on 12/18 to St. Louis to visit my brother and family for Christmas and New Year's -- unless someone tells me that's not a good idea. I'll be in a bedroom car (private bath, full-sized bed, very comfortable - I just did the same trip last August), and it's usually very relaxing.

So that's my story -- not sure what to ask at this point, as I still feel vaguely in shock.

Hi Lana,

I understand your fear and acceptance completely. You are in the right place for support, comfort and words of encouragement. I had onyx, I was not a candidate for coiling. You might want to check into this option. It is fairly new and there is also a procedure called Pipeline embolization. Ask your neurosurgeon about these procedures.

My thoughts and prayers for you and enjoy your trip!


I am sorry that you are going through the journey that so many of us had. I am fairly new - just had surgery Oct. 24 for coiling and stent in my basilar artery tip. I, too, was originally told I might have clipping, but my neurosurgeon discounted that after my cerebral angiogram, which you will probably have also.

This forum is great for venting (there is no long story rule here), as I have recently found out. I have gotten great advice here - there is not alot out there for us - we help support each other through our different surgeries and diagnosis. For instance, after my surgery on the 2nd day in ICU, I asked my doctor for Fioricet, which another member had mentioned right before my surgery, for the headaches afterward (they were giving me Dilaudid and Morphine, which were not controlling them). On the 3rd day he gave me Fioricet and Oxycodone, which finally controlled them.

Did you get a written record or your MRA? I asked my doctor for it and received it on the spot. Do you know the location and size of the annie? I don't believe that anyone can tell you whether or not to go out of town - that all depends on the results of your tests and only the doctors can really tell you.

Welcome to this site - you will find a ton of support, which we all need.


Hi, Sherry ...

I don't have a written record of the MRA -- the local health system is fully computerized, so I have access to all records online as soon as they're posted by the lab or doctor. So far, my MRA results and doctor notes haven't been posted. They always wait until the doctor releases the records, and that usually happens after the doctor has met with the patient or called them about the results. I suspect they'll be online on Monday or Tuesday. At that point, I can download them and print them (I usually just save everything to disk and print as needed).

All I know about the location is that it's near the brain stem, and seems to be "resting" on the 6th cranial nerve (abducens - one of the 3 nerves that control the eye). I've been plagued with severe double vision since June, and it's now to a point where I dare not drive at night. We're in our dark "rainy season" here in the northerland, and two or three cars on a wet road looks like a swarm of red and white lights to me. Annie size? Neuro just said "fairly large," which doesn't tell me much. I'm expecting a call tomorrow re: setting up consultations w/ the two specialists, and we'll take it from there.

Thanks so much for your response. It's nice to know that there are others who have traveled down this road before, who are willing to share their experience.


Bellingham, WA

Hi, Karen ...

I've added both of those to my list of things to ask about. :-)

At this point, I'm trying NOT to think about this too much. I've done some preliminary research, and have started a list of questions for the docs. I keep reminding myself that I've apparently had this for some time -- it didn't just suddenly appear last week! As of last Friday morning, I had no idea that it was present. The ONLY thing that has changed is that I now have knowledge that I didn't have before. And knowing is a bit part of the solution.

Anyway, I'm happy to have found this site. I have a feeling I'll be checking in frequently as things progress.


Bellingham, WA

Wow Lana, Impressive story..first, welcome! the people here are awesome! You will find much comfort and good advice and support.. and you seem like you're getting on board with some of the issues that are important in our world, such as BP, and knowing your own medical situation, so that's good (I was totally clueless before so I'm impressed). It will be interesting to see if your medical team will deal with the vertebrae first or the aneurysm first.

My advice, for the short-term, would be that I wouldn't change travel plans unless your medical team says no.. but make sure you learn the typical signs of a rupture so that if you are somewhere (like st. louis or somewhere along the way) you know if there's a problem and be able to articulate your situation to a first responder, even if you can't. Everyone is different but, for me, it was the worst headache of my life, plus a popping or snapping sound inside my head, along with increasing confusion, and unusual clumsiness.

Best of luck as you deal with your new situation. You sound strong, that will serve you.