How does brain aneurysm affect you?

So 2015 has gone, many things happened to me personally. Among other is the fact that my close family member (Brian) has a leaked brain aneurysm which required an emergency operation about a week before Christmas day. The plan we had had for our family Christmas has thus shattered. It broke my heart to see him operated right before Christmas. This led me to write-up this blog post as to remind myself as well as to raise awareness of what brain aneurysm could affect you.

What is brain aneurysm?

For every 10 people, one person has brain aneurysm without knowing it (as I was told by a doctor). The statistic is quite scary I must say. So what is brain aneurysm, anyway?

Brain aneurysm is an abnormal condition of a blood vessel. This condition could happen anywhere but if occurs in the brain, it could do harm the most. In this condition, some spot of the blood vessel is so weak that it could bloat and leak the blood out to the nearby tissues. Worst case is when the blood vessel bursts and thus it can cause hemorrhagic stroke which can lead to brain damage or even death. 40% of those with ruptured blood vessel in the brain end up dead!

How does brain aneurysm affect you?

In the case of Brian, I strongly believe he had the hemorrhagic stroke due to the operation for the left brain aneurysm. In his case, two main effects are noticeably visible:

  • Aphasia: This affects his speech. Two weeks after the operation, he could understand but he could not use correct words for expressing himself. For instance, he will use the word “In general” for tooth-brush or spoon. When trying to correct him, he said “Ohh”. This signifies that he understood that he made mistake but he could not bring himself to produce the right words. According to the Stroke Association, Aphasia is an impairment that can cause difficulty in expression one thought, understanding words and reading and writing. During his stay at the hospital, I had witness several speech therapy during which he is taught to pair the sound and the image as well as for him to learn to trace simple character at first. I must say it is   Watch him re-learn from scratch. Having said that, i could see the benefit and improvement from the speech therapy.
  • Right side hemiplegia: I used to hear that left side brain controls the right side of the body and vice-versa. Now that I had witnessed this phenomenon myself through observing Brian. Remember I told you that he had operation on his left brain to clip the aneurysm?, because of this operation, his right hand side of the body including his hand and leg cannot move for at least a week from the operation date. He has physiotherapy and occupational therapy come daily to help him and to encourage him to move again. I see the improvement on week 3 by a little. Before I left, he could move a little bit his index, thumb and middle finger. I am pleased to see this improvement.

So how can you prevent brain aneurysm?

Through my research, it appears that there isn’t much on how we can prevent this but you can hopefully prevent the need to perform neurosurgery (Brian did that and it aint pretty). One way to prevent open surgery is to really look out for the symptom of a brain aneurysm. In the case of Brian, he had a once in a lifetime headache and he has a numb in his neck for several weeks followed by vomiting. Unfortunately, his doctor could not find anything and simply ruled that it is due to his stress and depression at work. So in case you see the following signs, please ask the doctor specifically to consider brain aneurysm as one of the possible risks and take MRI or CT scan promptly:

  • vomit
  • Sudden headache that is so painful as it seems to happen only once in a lifetime
  • stiff or numb at neck.

Finally, now I am back home now and he is still in the hospital and he will move to the rehab center this Monday. I hope and pray for a quick recovery for him.

Best wishes,

Toby John


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