Brain Aneurysm Support Community

Recently Diagnosed with Unruptured Cerebral Aneurysm

Hello. I have been reviewing the posts. There is a lot of great information. I appreciate everyone who has been sharing their story. It really lends a lot of insight into some important areas. I am a female and in my 40s. I was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm two nights ago. The aneurysm was an incidental find while I was at the ER for a head injury. I do not yet have any specific details on the aneurysm. I go to visit a specialist on June 12th. I have been reviewing information online. From what I can tell–there is evidence to support the notion that both small and large aneurysms hold potential of bursting depending on their exact details like thickness and location. Everyone needs their own individual plan and the two treatment options both come with risks of long-term disability. I am still in shock over this diagnosis. Aneurysms are rare even though more and more are now being diagnosed. I have to wait two weeks to find out what my doctor has uncovered. In the interim all I have is the internet and this forum to educate myself. I am concerned about what kind of limitations I face as a person with an unruptured aneurysm but I’m told there is not a lot of research in that area yet. The idea of surgery is fairly scary. So is the wait and see approach. I am in the process of wrapping up an advanced degree. I have about a year to go and I worry about impacting my progress in that area. I read in one report that if I sneeze too hard I increase my chance of rupture by 250. It is all pretty unsettling and hard to believe. It seems like this is going to be a long and stressful ordeal. Thanks for any insight. It is appreciated.

Hey Harveygirl,

I don’t have much to add right now as I am in the same boat as you. During a routine appointment for a heart stent on May 15th with my Cardiologist, I told him about vision loss in my left eye the night before and he immediately had me sent down to ER. A CTA scan was performed and it was discovered I have an unruptured 4mm opthalmic region annie. I was admitted and the next day, I was given the MRI/MRA to confirm with clarity.

My consult with Neurosurgeon will be this coming Monday and that is when I’ll get more in-depth information and see images of the MRI/MRA. I have many questions for the doc but it will be an interesting meeting for sure. As for the vision loss, it was diagnosed as transient and I have not had any more episodes since that one time. At this time, it is not clear if the vision loss is related to the annie as it is being declared incidental but the Neurosurgeon will be able to confirm/refute that when we meet on Monday.

I am with one of the top 20 hospitals in the country and #1 ranked in Chicago, which has a high success rate dealing with Neurology/Cardiology matters. I am very happy with my medical team - PCP (Internal Medicine), Cardiologist, Lipodologist (Cardiologist), General Opthamologist, Neuro-Opthamologist and Neurosurgeon. I’m in good hands.

Hi , after your appointment of course it will be more clearity about location , treatment … you also might be scheduled additional testing like angiogram .
So far I would avoid alcohol, lifting anything heavy , no stresses .

Welcome to this site harveygirl! Congrats on finishing up an advance degree! Make a list of all your questions to ask the doc and take someone with you. I always ask close friends and family if they have any questions and add that to the list.

When I was a kid in the 60’s, there used to be a saying about sneezing or blowing your nose so hard your brains would come out. I wonder now if they were talking about a rupture. The only time I was told to be careful was after the coils were put in. When I asked how am I supposed to know how hard I’m going to sneeze since I have allergies, there wasn’t an answer, the ICU doc just said don’t do it. I rolled my eyes. Most aneurysms don’t rupture which is a good thing. Remember to stay relaxed, learn some relaxation breathing, if you haven’t yet acquired that skill. There’s always the basic encouragement from studies to keep hydrated, eat a healthy diet, don’t smoke and exercise. Stay focused on your studies and not on the aneurysm. Best of luck and keep us informed.

have question? (questions ?) And not sure what to ask - last time I went to neurologist he said I was healing fine- nothing to worry about- gave me lots of sample medicine for seizures, anxiety, and Nuedehta. My PCP knows I won’t take all these meds. Because I am still having headaches, swishing- popping-buzzing sounds in my head, depression (more frustration then depression) and I was crying because I was frustrated. I tried to explain this to him… I think my last CT was January.
In September I had an aneurysms that hemorraghed and I spent almost a month in ICU. I had no warning, no known prior medical problems, just thought I had a bad migraine.At the time doctors say no sign of a stroke. I was 64 yrs old at the time and the “health nut” in my family.
So I am asking :What questions should I be asking my doctor ? How often should I be checked? Are you joking about the sneezing ? My biggest concern is memory loss. Doing testing with Psychologist, she says test and medical records show some brain damage could be due to loss of blood to brain. Is this possible?

Yes and No to the joke about sneezing. When I asked my Neurosurgeon, she said of course you can’t control sneezing, don’t blow your nose too hard. I’m like you, about a month in ICU, no therapy when released. That was due to me living about 60 miles and several counties from the hospital I was treated at. They really don’t know who to refer me to in my area. It was thought my PCP would do that. He just wanted me to have a Neurosurgeon in my area. I have since gotten another PCP. I was able to identify what I needed and my Neurosurgeon would send in the prescription for things like Speech and PT.

Questions can be anything related to you specifically. For each recoiling I ask how much protein, how much water, how much exercise, why do I have to drink Gatorade? I made the stuff going through college, I don’t care for most of it. Then there are all the why’s and what’s and how’s, not to mention the where’s. Like where is the brain damage, what does it effect, how long is recovery. And some doctors will be honest and say they don’t know, others give a line of bull pucky. My Neurosurgeon is always honest. It’s one of the things we value most about her. One time, we called and asked if I could try hang gliding for the first time, she said I could try anything I wanted to! I couldn’t do the hang gliding, it started to rain. One day I will give it a go. We always question the readings on the MRAs as they are often contradictory to what she sees in the angiogram, in fact one time we asked about the test conclusion, she jumped up, called someone important and the conclusion was apparently not mine, as it was changed before we left her office.

Yesterday, I asked my Speech Therapist if it was all the benedryl and the doubling up on allergy meds that has helped my Speech, tremor, and processing. It hasn’t knocked me out, but it sure has slowed me down. She said she wasn’t sure and to make sure I ask the new neurologist.

So questions have to be specific for you. Sorry I can’t be more help.

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You helped me with your suggestions. I write list of questions. Lol on the hanggliding. I love fishing, swimming. But was afraid of boating. Now My goal is to kayak by myself so working on balance and upper strength.

Hey Sisterrose,
I have to agree with many of the comments here by Moltroub. I have had the joy of consulting numerous neurologists and neurosurgeons, each has had their own opinions and their own views. Often dismissing another’s opinion out of hand. I have to say here bull pucky is a nice way to put some of the information provided. I did find a neurosurgical professor who stated directly that they do not know enough about the brain itself to be able to give concrete answers, which I must say has been the most honest opinion I have received. As I’m often saying ‘When it comes to the brain, 2 individuals can have exactly the same issue and have exactly the same procedure to deal with it, but have vastly differing outcomes’. This is not a case of A+B=C.

The medicos like to have scans “…And the scans look fine…” but the realities for us can often be FAR from fine. If the scans are OK they seem to like putting it back on us, like we choose to be here, we choose to have these ongoing symptoms. I too I am still having headaches, swishing- popping-buzzing sounds in my head and some chronic balance issues, my last surgery was in '13 and as for the frustration… …ohh don’t go there. The frustration is ever present. And yes that frustration can lead to depression. I was referred to a head shrink (psychologist) and basically she told me ‘That’s pretty normal’ we have been through some major trauma and things have changed both in our abilities and the way we process things. Our brains develop with a particular/individual flow of blood around it, then that flow is altered. It is so individual that they can not say with any surety how each person will be affected. For some the impact maybe minimal where for others it can be catastrophic, the scans may show it’s within a particular region of the brain but as no two brains are wired exactly the same they cannot pinpoint exactly what the impact maybe.

I can assure you your frustration in trying to explain it is far more common than the medicos will ever admit and they are far more likely to try and identify it as a psych issue rather than a physical/annie/brain issue. The attitude that is far more common I have found is ‘We have operated, we have fixed’ but the reality is often that they have operated and things have changed, not fixed. Adapting to those changes, that is a challenge, one I am yet to fully conquer.

As for your question “… medical records show some brain damage could be due to loss of blood to brain. Is this possible?” in short, yes. Within our skulls there is a very fine balance of blood, cerebral spinal fluid and brain matter. When that balance is disturbed we can have an unending range of issues, some can be physical, some can be psychological. It was once explained to me that our brains are similar to a computer. If we opened our computer cases and threw in a hand full of metal flakes we’d have short circuits through the whole system, a bleed within the brain can do the same thing. It is all VERY individual to each person.

But please know, you are not alone in all of this, we are here. And we know because we have been there too. 99.9% of medicos work on theory, we work on experience, our own personal experience.

Merl from the Moderator Support Team

Glad I could be of some help Sisterrose53! I have issues navigating stairs, my brain and my feet seem out of sync. When I get down to the last step, my brain doesn’t register I’m no longer on stairs. I learned a couple tricks, one is to wear a high contrasting color shoe, it helps my brain recognize the step from the floor. The other thing I found really helpful with balance was Tai Chi. Physical Therapy should also be able to help with balance and upper strength. Remember you’re only what, nine months out from rupture? It took a good bit of time for my muscles to recuperate from being in a bed for 26 days. I can’t wait until you start a post on your kayaking adventures!

This is all very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your stories. The brain damage notation is poignant. It makes me wonder if I have suffered any issues. I’m still coming out of the shock of my diagnosis. I was wondering if any of you had challenges telling the people in your life that you have an brain aneurysm?

I have only told four people (outside of this support group) and I am hesitant to share the news based on just a preliminary ER report. I basically people that I have a concussion, which is true. That is the reason they found the aneurysm.

I received a copy of my test results via email a few days ago. I now know the size and location. It’s bigger than I wish it were, but from what I have read, these can rupture at any size. There is one study that says larger ones tend to rupture more, but it was done eons ago. In my opinion, I think it depends on where it is, the details surrounding it, and the person. Interestingly enough, though, I’ve read several stories where someone has been diagnosed by one hospital and then given different results in other places. It makes it pretty scary. It’s also scary having to put so much trust in an aneurysm specialist that you have never met and hardly know, regardless of where they are from.

The notation I made about sneezing came from this website. I can’t stipulate on how factual it is. I’m sure there is some merit to it, however. Some of you might want to read this:

I’ve been suffering from a lot of headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Mainly concussion recovery I believe. I go to my first meeting with the specialist one week from today. I will ask a lot of questions. It is stressful thinking about it. Even if he confirms the results, I’m not sure I can tell all my loved ones. I’m afraid of worrying them and the limitations people tend to associate with those who have brain issues. Never in my life did I ever expect to be diagnosed with this. I had never even heard of it until the other night in the ER. It is pretty shocking. Thanks for listening everyone.

Welcome to the group, Harveygirl. I think it is a personal choice whether or not to tell others and probably different for everyone. For me, I told just about everyone because I am horrible at keeping things to myself, but that can create some awkwardness and it does become tiresome to explain it all to people. Most don’t understand what it means anyway. I think you are wise to wait for more information first, too.

I completely understand your shock and stress as well. It will take some time to process. I was diagnosed six months ago and I will be having treatment this summer. At first I felt an urgency that the medical professionals did not show at all and it was scary, but over time I’ve become less anxious and generally adjusted to the fact that I can’t control a lot of this. I try to control what I can and actively learn about my aneurysm and what treatment will mean, but otherwise I just live my life. I’ve got a 3-year-old who helps to keep me focused on her instead of my aneurysm! LOL

This forum has been great for me with all its wonderful people and information. I hope it is as helpful for you. :slight_smile:

Jennifer

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Hi dont scare yourself with the sneezing issue. My was present for over 4 years without me knowing. I did everything in that time. Flying, partying, everything. Mine was an incidental find too. At first it was a watch and wait situation but after an angiogram it was deemed to be operated on. Mine was a basilar tip aneueysm of 6mm. The size hadnt changed over the 4 years. I had my op last Oct and have just had a follow up angiogram. All looks good.
I would warn you about the recovery tho. Neurologist state 2 weeks. That is to actually get over the op. Im 6 months down the line and still off work but due to return in the next two weeks. The tiredness is overwhelming. I had some visual issues after too but they seem to have calmed down but not gone entirely. I wish you luck. If they offer an op then take it.

Thank you, Jennifer. It is appreciated. You’re right. It is hard to explain. Bless your heart in raising a three year old. How frightening that must be. You are in my prayers and in my thoughts.

Concussions suck! There’s some data that even suggests they may cause an aneurysm, no one really knows. Concussions can cause some rather nasty brain effects. Confusion, dizziness, slower processing, just to name a few. Even mild concussions can take a good deal of time to heal. Be kind to yourself!

Everything I’ve read suggests there are no side effects of aneurysms unless they are large enough to press on nerves, etc.

Yesterday I drove into the largest city in our county (county isn’t large population wise). Picked up a load of gravel in my truck and drove home. It was a huge deal for me! I had to rest the rest of the day. This morning, I’ve unloaded about half, so around 7-800 pounds. I take breaks. I just wanted to let you know, I’m still doing what I want. I’m not usually a couch potato. There’s too much I want to do and see. The neck of my aneurysm is still opened about 1.5 mm and I don’t worry about it, much. I definitely don’t allow it to run my life.