Aneurysm Update

September 4, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

I’m finding myself drifting in the direction of not having the operation to prevent the rupture of my cerebral aneurysm.  It’s been a week since meeting with the surgeons.  They told Marcia and me that a cranial intervention made the most sense.  The choice was between an arterial approach, operating from inside the aneurysm, strengthening its walls, or opening up my head and addressing the problem from the outside, where it is possible to see the tiny arteries (peripherals) that, if damaged, could cause a stroke.

They conducted a procedure (described here) about three weeks ago to gather information that would tell them the best route to go.  They discovered that if they were prevented from adjusting the aneurysm in the way that they wanted to during the cranial intervention, they could shut off my left carotid artery, relieving the pressure on the aneurysm.

The chance of rupture is about 2.5% in any given year.

So, this is not a matter that requires an immediate decision.  The aneurysm has no symptoms, though it could be related to headaches.  They’re not sure.  If I choose an operation, there is about an 8% chance of stroke.  The doctors recommend intervention.  I have a 50/50 chance of surviving a rupture with a 25% chance of surviving without damage.  It’s clear the doctors hate operating on rupture victims.  They don’t like to talk about it.

I was hoping for the arterial intervention.  Out of the hospital in two or three days.  Back to work almost immediately.  Cranial, out in four or five days, effects for months.

I was planning to have an operation.  Then the doctors recommended cranial, noting that shutting off my carotid was a possibility.  They shut off my carotid artery during the procedure while I was awake and aware so that I could answer questions and indicate whether I was having a stroke.  I experienced a powerful beating of my heartbeat in my neck, an experience that reproduced a symptom of anxiety, though I was not experiencing great anxiety at the time.  The doctors weren’t sure if it was a result of the shutting off of the carotid or not.  In other words, I could spend the rest of my life with an elevated heartbeat as my heart struggles to get enough blood to my brain through a single channel.

I have choices.

If I continue to experience my life as special, unique and limited, and I’m feeling gratitude, then maybe the operation is unnecessary.  The aneurysm becomes a boost toward making it easier to live life experiencing appreciation.  If I drift in the direction of not feeling gratitude, then the operation will become more appealing because it will seem to address the fear that comes with living life in some other place than love.

This is very odd.  I have the threat of an operation forcing me to pay attention to an aneurysm that could kill me.  I am responding by feeling appreciation for feeling alive.


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