Brain Journey

July 3, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

Well, on Monday Marcia and I sat down with the brain surgeon.  The aneurysm in the second MRA was not larger than the test from six months ago.  It is truly staggering that the Evanston clinic used a different calibration protocol than the Chicago office, resulting in a large enough size difference that the chances for a rupture in any given year was off by almost an order of 10.

Regardless, with a worst case scenario of a 50/50 chance of rupture in the next 20 years (there was an even far worse prognosis by another surgeon), I’ve decided to have the operation sometime this summer.

First, the surgeon will conduct a rather surreal test where they run a balloon up my neck, diverting the activity of the left carotid artery while running blood vessel submarine telescopes up my arteries, through my groin.  They’ll take videos of my aneurysm while monkeying with the carotid artery, which includes shutting it off.  They’ll follow that with more brain scans with radioactive markers.

All this will occur while I’m fully awake with so I can provide information on the effects of the procedure, responding to questions while they examine the video.

With the information from the procedure, the surgeons will decide whether to intervene from inside my arteries, making for a far less invasive experience and almost immediate recovery time, or coming in through the side of my head.

Strangely, three of my four closest friends have brain problems.  Martin has this spaghetti vessel thing that is inoperable.  Larry had a brain shunt to address liquid build-up.  Bob has had intervention for tumors twice.  Once with gamma rays, the other surgery.  John, the waiter at our favorite restaurant, had an aneurysm explode while driving.  He is now fully recovered after several months of rehab.  John’s surgeon is my surgeon.  A friend of Marcia also had a brain aneurysm operation.

So, I’m not feeling like I’m wandering into virgin territory all alone.  Nevertheless, I go back and forth between feeling lucky and feeling scared.  It could be lots worse.

It worries me that there might be effects from the operation considered so subtle as to not be noticeable except by someone who spends an inordinate amount of time exploring connections between not obviously related disciplines or themes.  When blood flows are diverted and/or brain tissue is cut, will the way I perceive the world be adjusted?  No doubt.  Will I notice?  Will I be able to assimilate those adjustments in a fashion that transcends the damage done?

It’s an adventure.


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