Susan McCord - I Had a Brain Aneurysm

I Had a Brain Aneurysm – My Story

I Had a Brain Aneurysm – My Story

Today on Dear Sybersue I discuss a different subject rather than my usual dating and relationship topics. I decided to share this video (above) and post, regarding a medical procedure that I went through 3 1/2 months ago. I sincerely hope that it will help others to pay close attention to their health.

I am very health conscious and work out 5-6 days per week which includes weight training, yoga, and spinning. I also eat well so I notice when things don’t feel right in my body. I have great instincts that I listen to very closely. They have never steered me in the wrong direction!

Always listen to your instincts when you feel something is off which is what I did in this case.

I felt different.

My eyes were acting up with vision issues, my headaches were constant for well over a year, and I then started having numbness in my left hand that worried me a lot.

The first thing I did was to make an eye appointment with an ophthalmologist. We did all the major tests for anything that could be going on with the change in vision that I was experiencing. Everything came back normal which I was very happy to hear!

My GP then referred me to a neurologist named Dr. Andrew Woolfenden whom I spoke to on the phone. (He wasn’t doing in-person patient appointments due to the pandemic restrictions at the time.) We both agreed that I should have a CT due to the daily headaches I was having. I was fortunate to get the CT within a 3 week period!

Even though my instincts told me something was off in my body, I really wasn’t prepared for the results that the CT scan came back with! My GP called me first and gently shared the information. I think I was a little stunned for a few minutes after he told me there was a 5 mm aneurysm inside my brain. I then listened very carefully to his instructions for our next plan of action.

He sent the CT to Neurogurgeon Dr. Gary Redekop, who called me within a day to set up an appointment (in-office) 2 days later. (He took his lunch hour to meet with me due to his overly booked up schedule!) I spent an hour with him discussing my options and the clipping procedure he would be performing should I agree to have it done.

He showed me my CT in his office and informed me that the aneurysm was actually 8 mm not the 5 mm that was originally stated. He patiently answered my numerous questions and showed me the item he would use to clip the aneurysm. This procedure is done to prevent the aneurysm from bursting inside the brain.

What is entailed in the actual surgery?

We discussed what would take place during the surgery. The surgeon would be making a long incision along the right side of my face from my forehead to the top of my jawline. He would then cut part of my skull (Craniotomy) so that he had access to the brain. He would insert the clip at the neck of the aneurysm on the anterior communicating artery and then he would use screws to place the piece of skull back to its original position.

Photo Credit –Hopkinsmedicine.org

After my meeting with Dr. Redekop, I set up a surgery date with his office assistant Christine. She is a lovely woman who calmed me with her kind and reassuring words. (She also told me he was a pretty good barber and would shave my hair only in the immediate area of the incision.) We set the date for just over 2 weeks later! I left the office with so many thoughts whirling through my head!

It was very surreal.

Getting mentally prepped for the surgery date is a blur looking back. I only told a few close friends, my son, my husband, and my sister and her family. They were all wonderfully supportive throughout it all. <3

The Day Of the Sugery

My husband took me to the hospital for my 6:30 am check-in. I appeared somewhat calm on the outside but bubbling with anxiety on the inside. The anesthesiologist came to see me first and answered my concerns about my past experiences with the anesthetic side effects. He was very kind and gave me something for anti-nausea.

My surgeon came by shortly after and met with me as I lay prepped and ready in the patient area. We talked about what to expect right after surgery and for the 5 days following during my hospital stay. Thankfully they let my husband stay until they wheeled me away.

Reaching the brand new operating room I couldn’t believe how many medical staff was there just for me! I’ve had a few surgeries over the years but never seen so many people in the room before. Brain surgery is definitely a high-priority scenario! I felt safe and scared at the same time if that is possible.

I woke up a few hours later in a recovery room but can’t tell you much about that. I was pretty out of it! Thanks to the anaesthesiologist I had no shaking or vomitinng after the surgery! Later I was wheeled into a private room where my wonderful son came to visit me with flowers, fruit, magazines, and a big gentle hug. His eyes gave away his impression of how rough I looked with my mummy-like bandages all over my head. I was thankful he couldn’t see what was really going on underneath!

This is Me One Week After Brain Aneurysm Surgery

I was really worried about how I would cope in the hospital for 5 days but apart from a little noise from my 3 other roommates. (I had requested to pay for a private room but I was only able to get one for the first night due to an availability shortage), it went by pretty well and fairly fast! I think I slept through most of it. There was some pain but not as bad as I thought it would be. I only took a few T3’s after leaving the hospital while I was recuperating at home.

I had a big black eye and a lot of bruising on the right side of my face but it was the 30+ staples that gave me a Frankenstein look! I could definitely feel where my skull and face were cut open to enter into the brain. I was able to move around without any help so I told my dear friend Sharon I wouldn’t be needing the care service she so kindly offered. I was so happy to be mobile and take care of myself!

I went for walks within a few days and actually went back to some of my fitness routine 3 weeks later. I was very happy and relieved that I was able to continue my blog posts and coaching without any issues, and my memory is intact as it always has been. The only change that I have noticed since having the surgery is that my smell and taste are a little muted right now. My hair is growing back slowly and my scar is healing beautifully.

I am so very grateful that everything worked out so well and I am living my life headache-free and stress-free from having future aneurysm complications!

Thank you so much to:
  • My son Travis, daughter-in-law Hannah and my husband Bruce for their love, support, and concern.
  • Carol, Richard, and Jan for your daily prayers.
  • Bo, Sharon, and my sister Julie & family for the beautiful flowers and phone calls.
  • Joanna for the incredible video of our friendship and the gift card.
  • Eleni, Rhonda and Kathy P. for your caring texts.
  • Sharon I. for our walks,many visits, and the shepherd’s pie!
  • Colleen for those amazing soups you made for me!
  • A very big thank you to Dr. Redekop, my GP Dr. Gary Henderson, Dr.Woolfenden and all the amazing VGH hospital staff in Vancouver!

*Please watch the video above the post to see what I learned and how I recovered from brain surgery.

Treatment Options for Unruptured Brain Aneurysms

About Brain Aneurysms and How to Spot Them

Sybersue xo <3

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4 comments

  1. Thank you for this brave post. I’m sorry to hear you went through this. I’m glad you’re on the road to recovery. It sounds like you had a fantastic neurosurgeon, neurologist, and tons of family and friends as support.All the best, Susan.

  2. Hi Sue, you probably don’t remember me…Sandy Wood from the airline days(cp). I sure remember you. So vibrant and pretty. Wishing you all the luck in the world with this scary horror in your life. It sounds dramatic because it is. Take care Susan💕

    1. Hi, Sandy! Yes, of course, I remember you! What a nice surprise to hear from you! Thank you for taking the time to comment and say hello. I’m doing pretty good and life is definitely better without the headaches etc. I hope all is well with you? I left the airline about 12 years ago and love what I am doing now. I still see a lot of people from our flying days. I’d love to hear more about you! dearsybersue@gmail.com hugs xo Susan

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