Brain Aneurysm Support Community

Unruptured aneurysm clipping

Hi everyone, I’ve been diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm, 3 mm in the anterior communicating artery. My doctors have recommended clipping due to its shape (wide neck, it’s almost as wide as tall). I have been researching the potential complications and recovery stories of everyone in this forum and facebook support groups, and what I have found out is that, even with a great outcome after surgery, having the treatment is similar to having a traumatic brain injury, which can cause brain fog, dizziness, tiredness, trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking, and sensitivity to light and sounds. For those of you that have had the surgery, would you agree? I know the alternative (not doing the surgery) is equally risky and it could save my life. But life still won’t be necessary the same afterwards. Comments? Recommendations?

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Hey Rosie,

Would I agree? HELL YEA
But…
I’m often saying to others “That’s a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ type question” No two surgeries are exactly the same and trying to draw parallels between two people’s experiences is near on impossible. Brain surgery has inherent risks, let’s face it we are talking about the body’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) just like a computer. The fine circuitry within the brain is very sensitive and any disruption can have an effect. Luckily for some this can be minimal but for others it can have a life long impact.
Personally I have endured a few neurosurgeries and no two have had the same recoveries nor impacts. So even for me drawing a parallel between each operation has been near on impossible.

Recommendations:
DO NOT go in with ANY expectations. This way if things improve you will be over joyed and by the same accord if things don’t improve you won’t have huge guilt or self regret. I didn’t do this and my regret was HUGE.

TAKE THE TIME YOU NEED, do not place a limit on your recovery. Some things may improve straight away, some things may not. I tried to force my recovery. With my last surgery I took 2 weeks off of work and pushed myself to return to work after that time. The problem was 2 weeks was not enough for me. I pushed too hard, too soon and did myself more harm than good. I ended up back in hospital requiring further surgery and have not been able to return to ‘life’, as I knew it, since. Don’t do that.

Is it similar to having a traumatic brain injury? Yes, it can be, very much so. As I say “any disruption can have an effect” but the big advantage you have is that they have found it early and depending on the exact location the impact can be minimal. Sure you will have/need recovery time but once it has been dealt with and you’ve recovered, things should be OK.

Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, it takes time for the brain to adjust to any change and unfortunately slowly, slowly is best. Listen to your body, it will give you signs/messages. When you need rest, take it and don’t push it too much. Believe me, you’ll be thankful if you listen.

Merl from the Moderator Support Team

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Rosie,

I was diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm in my left carotid artery when I was 14 years old. I had it repaired with titanium clips. My doctors were amazing people, but I think they tried to downplay the side effects as to not scare me. The fact of the matter is any brain surgery, small or major, will have side effects. My doctors told me that the main side effect I would have was tiredness. This was definitely downplaying the side effects that I had. Merl is right that every person’s side effects will be different. For me, I had increased and worsened headaches (I already got migraines, but the headaches that I got after the surgery were more and worse), tiredness, a shotty memory, and a loss of interest in things that I loved before. This last one was the worst for me. I never had any type of depression before but after the surgery I was a bit of a zombie person for a little bit and I didn’t want to do anything at all.

Merl is also right in that you should not push yourself to recover too quickly and that could do more harm than good. However for me, I had to push myself to start living again even though I didn’t really have any interest to. Once I started to engage in things I loved before, I started to recover and become my old self.

Again, all of this was my experience and yours might be completely different. My best of advice is to embrace the experience and don’t let anyone tell you to just suck it up because the surgery is not a major one. Embrace the way you feel after and talk to the amazing people here about it because a support system can be all the difference.

Even after all my side effects, I would do the surgery again a thousand times. It probably saved my life. Because of the size and the location of my aneurysm I probably wouldn’t have survived if it did rupture. My recommendation is to do the surgery.

My aneurysm and surgery was so long ago. Much of what everyone says here is actually stuff that I never realized until after joining this wonderful group. I had my surgery in March 1988. Aneurysms were almost unheard of back then. I absolutely had to have my surgery because I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter. I wish someone would have told me to take it easy and to not compare myself to others. That’s what I have done for the longest, but, after reading others’ statements, I am starting to realize that I cannot compare, but embrace.

Your chances of life are better with surgery. Aneurysms DO eventually rupture. By then, it will be too late. Pray about it, but, please, do think about it.

I don’t understand, If you need surgery get it. If you don’t, you will die. It is so simple. Do you want to live? Do you want to die? Aneurysms are serious. You can’t fix it yourself, ever. Live or not.

Hello,
I had a bit of a different situation as mine ruptured, but mine was 3mm and I was told to be checked for aneurysms 12 years ago due to my family history. I wish I had listened to the doctors then and gotten checked, It may have saved me from rupture. The fact is, life will be different either way. Now you know it’s there and you will worry and could potentially have a rupture and emergency surgery. Or you could have the surgery in a more controlled manner, with a doctor you know and trust, and save yourself the rush and surprise of the rupture. In the end, no matter your decision, your life will be changed. Best wishes to you as you make this life changing decision!

Rosie, you have been given an amazing gift, the opportunity to decide to have a procedure to control your aneurysm. With those of us who ruptured, a good bit of control was not offered on how and when to get it fixed. If you take a proactive attitude, go in prepared for a bit of downtime to allow your brain to heal, you will already be on the road to not only beating it but being the master of it.

And I’ll ask you this, hasn’t your life changed over the years? Are you the same person you were just five or ten years ago? We all face different life challenges all the time, it’s how you look and react to them if you’re going to be successful. Some days We just need to say out loud, today will be a good day and I am going to do good things.

Is there a possibility at all of not having deficits or long term side effects after an unruptured surgery? For the admins, if people do have none, is that the rule or the exception?

There’s been many folks here that had a successful procedure, with little if any side effects. Many folks are able to return to their jobs after the doctor releases them.

Do you know what the usual side effects are? Wondering if most people recover or if most had deficits. I had joined other support groups on Facebook and I was told that I needed to pick quality vs quantity of life and it really scared me.

I’m sorry, I don’t know as I found out about cerebral aneurysms the hard way. I think it’s important to remember that in either boat, your experience may not be like any others. I hope folks that haven’t ruptured chime in on their experiences after surgery. Have you done a search here? Maybe after effects, or post surgery, post clipping, post coiling…