Okay, we went from 1986 to 2009 without a problem, that’s a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. Yes it is in that the AVM did not “reform” in a way where doing something was riskier than doing nothing. And no because some of the symptoms – sore neck, shoulder pain, ear issues were still there and gradually getting worse.
In 2009, it felt like I pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve in my shoulder, went to the doctor, did physical therapy, and it kept getting worse not better. So we ran the tests that confirmed that it was a vessel from the AVM pushing on a nerve in my shoulder. Once we realized that, it did not take long for the doctors here to say, “back to Mayo with you.”
So, we go back to Mayo and they run some more tests and look at things and they said, “we can do this.” The plan was to plug up some other small veins to change the blood flow so that it isn’t pushing on the nerve any more. I distinctly remember coming out of the post-procedure fog and saying, “I feel better already.”
So back to a busy life. There was always that “storm cloud” on the other side of the horizon – you couldn’t see it, but the radar said it was there and it was potentially a problem that could come your way. But most of the time, you didn’t give it much thought.
Until 2014 when it started to rain. Not rain a lot, just a slow steady drizzle. I started having some hearing issues. And some sensory issues on the left side of my tongue. On the bright side, it never hurts to get a flu shot – the upper part of my left arm is numb. Never feel a thing.
It was a slow gradual thing, so it’s harder to judge what happened when, but by the second half of 2017, it was determined that the risks of waiting and doing nothing were less than the risks of doing something.
What were the risks? The risks of waiting were basically two very simple but nasty ones – brain bleed or stroke. The outcome of either one of those would most likely be bad, very bad.
So the decision was made to do an Embolization. What’s that? It’s basically where the doctors use small coils and super glue to plug up the blood vessels that are a problem. Oh and somehow they manage to do it from an artery in your leg. Yeah, go figure.
I’ve had numerous of those procedures done over the last 40 years, I really wasn’t that nervous about it. The medical team left us feeling very confident that this would go well and with a couple of days off, I’d be back at it.
If this were the script to a movie, about now is when they’d play the ominous, scary music……