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Aneurysm & AVM, But Very Fortunate..
By JORGE

Everything started in late 1999, while in bed I felt the worst dizziness of my life along with weakness that disabled me, and starting vomiting and vomiting.. I went to the ER in ambulance but the diagnostic first was an gastrointestinal disorder, then, finally as the dizziness didn't go away a neurologist concluded it was vestibular neuronitis (an affection of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness), closer to the reality but yet too far. Definitely the problem was in my head.

By Mid 2000, I experienced the same symptoms that anyone describes when having a stroke: a sudden worst-headache-of-my-life, and vomiting again and again. I took some pain killers, but the following few days the headache remained with lower intensity, besides this I had a terrible pain in my waist and along my back. Another neurologist saw me, and prescribed me something to relax my nervous like temazepam or so, he was unable to diagnostic anything.

Two days later the headaches intensified, and the Dr told me to go to the ER immediately.

At hospital I had a CT Scan, but Drs told me it was clean, nothing to be worried was going on in my head, the diagnostic: You are too stressed, headaches are tension headaches.. I left the hospital with a big bill that never was refund as insurances never pay tension headaches..

The headache and discomfort disappeared within a week.

By late 2000 when living in Canada, again, same story another acute headache and vomiting.. I told my self: they are tension headaches so don't get worried. My waist killed me when walking and the headache remained, so I went to Toronto GH ER walking in, Drs. didn't find anything and send me back home with pain killers.. The discomfort eventually disappeared.

By mid 2000 I was working out at gym, and something alike to previous attacks happened but this time the headache wasn't sudden but it was growing in intensity slowly, I had no vomiting this time. I took painkillers and went home by cab.

The following day, when waking up I had that headache again, sudden and disabling, like being hit with a hammer in the back of my head, a few moments later I started vomiting. The same day I went to see my family Dr, as he was unable to determine anything, referred me to a headaches specialist. This guy injected in my head powerful painkillers and the headaches went away for the remainder of the day - he wanted to rule out meningitis and send me back to my family Dr, he performed on my several analysis but found nothing. He ended up suggesting me to have some Shiatsu massages. The therapist recommended me to stretch a lot before and after working out an I did it.

For over 1 yr and a half I got rid of any headaches. Until late 2002. Same story, while in bed a throbbing headache and vomiting once and again, I started to feel my hands numb and I was in very bad shape. I even had fever, my waist killed me when walking. The headaches we so severe that I started alucinating. I went to see my family Dr: This is a migraine, so he gave me out anti-migraine pills. They didn't work. I went to have an acupuncture treatment, the discomfort faded away briefly but by the afternoon, the headaches and discomfort were intolerable. I called Telehealth and they suggested to go immediately to ER at Mount Sinai.

After having an IV I went directly to have a CT Scan. IT WAS CLEAN. But I remained for 4 days at hospital. Final diagnostic: Meningitis - I really doubt it was meningitis. The day I was discharged a Dr. asked my mother if any cases of strokes have been registered in her family, she said yes: her mother. Thanks to this Dr everything was uncovered. She ordered a MRA of my head.

I felt very sad and hopeless about the diagnostic. I was 34 and for the first time I faced the possibility of dying young or even worst suffering a lifetime neurological deficit.

By December 2002, I received the bad news from internist Dr: You have an aneurysm and an AVM in your head. - The worst of two worlds - and then he sent me with the specialist at Krembil Neurology Clinic.

In my first appointment Dr. Tymianski explained me what I already knew, what was an aneurysm and an AVM and the probability of 2-4 % of bleeding each yea, if bleeding 50% probability of dying, 25% probability of suffering neuro-deficit and only 25% of not being hurt at all. Next step: an MRA and Angiogram in order to determine the procedure to be followed.

SARS stroke Toronto and all appointments, treatments and surgeries at Hospitals were disrupted/ postponed for at least three months.

Finally on May 15 2003 I had my appointment with Dr. Willinsky interventional neuroradiologist. Your AVM and the Aneurysm are located in a very inaccessible area of the brain: The brain stem. Open Surgery is not an option. The course of action would be: 1) Embolization of the aneurysm, 2) LINAC radiation to eventually closing off the AVM within 1-3 yrs.

The date of the procedure was going to be scheduled yet, in the following weeks they will let me know..

NEXT DAY: MAY 16 2003, 9:30 PM. While in the gym working out specifically doing "flies" -my system shutdown- my left eye started seeing things frame by frame, like an old movies projector at low speed.. severe weakness and discomfort, dizziness and headache.. I barely was able to go downstairs to call home and ask my partner to come and pick me up as I was feeling terribly bad.

He found me sit and trembling near my locker, unable to move, 911 arrived 2 minutes later, an ambulance took me to the nearest hospital, at the ER I started vomiting once an again, and the headache was intense. They gave me caffeine to cope with the headache, took me to the CT Scan, performed a Lumbar puncture and then I was transferred to Krembil Neuroscience Clinic around 3AM.

I told my story to Drs and finally one of them told me, YOU HAVE BLOOD IN YOUR HEAD, you are going to be sent right away to the Intensive Care Unit to be under observation because this may get worst. A Dr. told me that my aneurysm burst, but never was known for sure if it was the aneurysm or the AVM.

Every 20 minutes nurses and doctors checked my neurological signs during the whole night. I was not allowed to sleep drink anything nor eating. My co-patients at the ICU were all unconscious and in very bad shape; I was the only person alert.

By 9 am the worst has just left behind. I was allowed to breakfast and they transferred me to the ward. I was under observation for three more days. My Dr. Willinsky, told me that after consulting my situation with other Drs, they didn't think that rushing to perform the embolization might be of any benefit for me, therefore they plan it for June 3rd.

I fully recovered after one week. I WAS PART OF THAT 25% that after a bleeding didn't have any deficit!!!!! and survived!!

On June 3rd, a friend of ours pick us up at 5:30 in the morning at took us to Krembil Clinic, I checked in and got ready for the non-invasive surgery. I was going to be put to sleep with anaesthesia, and of course risks were involved. Before going to the operations room, we prayed..

I woke up and I was told everything went fine. I was in ICU for 8 hrs and I started recovering pretty fast. Drs. told me my aneurysm was gone forever!! - but yet the AVM treatment was pending - My Dr told me: "one step at a time Jorge".

They were able to diminish the blood flow to the AVM by gluing surrounding arteries. This may give me some protection against bleeding.

I felt my head weird after the procedure - mild headaches. The "hemodynamics" changed and it was like 4 months later when I felt normal.

Now my Neuroradioneurosurgery is scheduled for early December and I expect that if everything goes well, within a year to three years I might be considered cured.

If you think that my story is not amazing enough, consider this: I was laid off early 2002 and I was unable to find a job until months ago, all my savings were consumed and I was in the verge of collapsing economically. Add this AVM/Aneurysm odyssey and the total burden was too much to cope with, without GOD.

God is really behind each of us, never, even for a second doubt about the existence of Him.

Life is good, regardless of anything else. What is real can't die!