Vertebral Artery Dissection

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Personal VAD & Stroke Stories - Page 13

These are just some of the personal stories people have sent to me since April 2008.  There are many more but problems with email accounts mean I don't have emails previous to that.

Please share your personal story on the site.

Go to Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

The stories are in no particular order and I have purposely not included names or personal information.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (chiropractic manipulation), M48

I had flown from Northern Europe to the US to be at my father's deathbed. I was jetlagged, and hadn't slept much from the time I got the phone call telling me to come late on a Monday, until his death very early Friday. So I figured the raging headache and neck pain on the right side were just a result of caffeine, stress, and lack of sleep - even though I can count the number of headaches I've had in my life on one hand.

I went to Urgent Care on Saturday, to be told it was a tension headache and given muscle relaxers. I went back on Sunday because it was worse. The new doctor gave me a neuro exam, said it appeared normal, but due to my symptoms sent me to an ER for films. At the ER, they took no films, but rather gave me IV meds for a tension headache, and sent me home with info about how to reduce stress.

Monday I went to a chiropractor for help (which I'd been doing for 25 years with very good results, not knowing the dangers of neck manipulation). Four hours later, I experienced another dizziness episode, this time I knew something was wrong. I instructed someone else who was luckily there to call 911, crawled to a chair near the front door, and threw up. My head was tilted, and my speech was slightly altered. I kept thinking "stroke". The ambulance took me to the smaller local hospital 20 minutes away, where they spoke by phone with stroke experts at the larger city hospital's stroke center. They determined the tPA dose, and then sent me by ambulance to the larger hospital. I was alert the entire time thus far, but in the second ambulance I lost all ability to move or speak. I could still hear, but badly - the strong ringing in my ears started after I arrived at the first hospital. Eventually, I couldn't even clear my throat, which I could feel I needed to do. I was very scared.

Members of the hospital's stroke team were ready for me when I arrived. I remember lots of activity for a short while, then I lost consciousness. From my records, I see I was out for about 2 hours and was intubated. The next thing I remember is waking up in the scanner, now able to move somewhat and hear well, and with the tube in my throat. I moved my feet as fast as I could (didn't want to mess up the picture if they were taking one right then), and someone said "Hey, she's awake". They removed the thing from my throat, and asked me if I had a voice, which I did. I had GREAT difficulty talking, and my right side had lost a lot of mobility. But my mind was the same. I was moved to the Neuroscience ICU where I stayed for a week, with one-to-one nursing and many neuro exams every day (every 15 minutes the first several hours). GREAT care, wonderful people, experts at what they do - taking care of stroke victims.

My diagnosis reads: CT showed R vertebral artery dissection, MRI/MRA showed L pontine infarct, R inferior cerebellar infarct, and narrowing of the R vertebral artery to less then 2 mm distal to the R PICA. I was determined to be stable eight days afterwards, and started inpatient rehab, which was great. I went from using a walker with difficulty and help, to moving on my own with only a spotter (a week and a half after the stroke) to moving independently with very bad balance (about 3 wks) to moving with good balance about 6 weeks after.

Now, 10 weeks later, I move around on my own, use public transport with a soft collar for safety, and even type (with some mistakes, but not so shabby!). I don't drive yet, but if I understand correctly, I will perhaps eventually be able to do so again. My double vision, which was a huge concern for me, cleared up after about 8 weeks. I am still very, very careful of my neck, and am uncertain about exactly what I can or can't do with it, so it's quite stiff. But I have new films scheduled in a couple weeks, so I anticipate getting more info then. I'm on Clopidogrel 75 mg (for a few months) and Aspirin 81 (forever).

I had great care after the real problem was diagnosed, which when all is said and done only took 3 days - it could have been worse. Looking back, I'm guessing the dissection started already on the Friday, and the stroke happened on the Monday. What was diagnosed as a tension headache was maybe the dissection starting. I was near an acclaimed stroke center with a truly fantastic staff. I will get back to being more or less myself, and have had a great recovery so far. What I need now is concrete info about my neck, and what I can or can't do during and after the healing process.

VAD, Car Accident, F27

I guess I'm kind of confused and worried after coming to this web site. I recently got into a bad car accident and fractured my c6 which is the sixth vertabrae in your neck.

The doctors told me I damaged an artery when it fractured. I was confused about it all since I was on morphine. Everything I was told in the hospital is hazy and I don't remember a lot but from why I understood it is the main artery that takes blood to your brain. I was not bleeding internally but I was put on aspirin as a blood thinner so no blood clots go to my brain.

I have heard from other people it is my curadid artery? Anyways since my hospital stay is a big blur I figured I would look at my discharge papers to see what it said and it says vertebral dissection right? I don't understand what the right means? The doc also wants me to come in for another ct scan in September to see if it has healed. If not I need surgery, does that sound right? Sorry for the questions. The word stroke has me a little worried and my appointment with the spine specialist isn't until the 12th.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, M36

Hi, my BF had a L side VAD on Aug 7, 2013, he is 36 y/o. We were at the beach to try stand-up paddle, we were doing it for an hour until we decided to rest in a dock. We jumped off the water from the dock, with only about a feet higher than the water. Getting off the water, he tried to pull himself up through the wooden dock but it almost gave out so he tried to control his weight and caused a strain to his neck. He was able to get off the water through the stand-up board, was sitting in the dock then he felt a sever headache, numbness on L side and hoarseness in his voice.

He was still oriented and was able to communicate from the ambulance to the ER. After the CT scan, his numbness went away and his voice came back to normal. Otherwise, the neurologist was offering a TPA if his coordination did not come back. He was transferred to a regular room after about 2hrs in the ER. He was still having 2-3/10 headache on the L side so he was having Ty lenol at least every 8hrs. He was d/c on Aug 9, 2013 with Heparin shots for 5days and Coumadin for 6months.

The good thing that I am really thankful is that he has no motor impairments, no vestibular problems and visual deficits. He was still recommended to see a neurologist. He will have his first consult with his primary physician on Aug 15 with a PT/INR test to be done on Aug 14. He still has the headache of 1-2/10 but he is still taking 2 650mg Tylenol.

I am really glad to found this website. It gave me more courage and made me feel that we are not the only one in this battle. I still have so many questions in my mind. I am praying for everyone!

VAD, Spontaneous (traumatic injury), F33

I worked as a nurse aide at a local hospital and was assisting a patient to the bathroom when she let go of her walker to sit on the toilet her knees buckled and my natural instinct was to catch her with my left arm hooked under her arm pit I was able to slowly lower her to the toilet. I did not notice any discomfort at that time.

I came home after working my 12 hr. shift went to sleep and woke up with a stiff neck, just thought I had slept on it wrong as the next few days when by the pain increased to the point I could not turn my head, chew, swallow, cough, let alone breath without this horrific pain shooting down the left side of my neck. I decided to go see my PCP as she diagnosed me with muscle spasms, prescribed muscle relaxers and sent me on my way. I took them for about 3 days and it did nothing for the pain so I stopped about a week later I woke up with my arm numb and tingling again I just thought I slept on my arm wrong as the day went on I got blurred vision, and my arm was still numb and tingling and I got a really bad headache ( I do suffer from migraines from time to time with aura) called on call Dr. and he said to see my PCP first thing in the morning.

I went to bed and just could not get out of bed the next morning, my husband new this was not normal for me and carried me to the car and drove to Dr. office she did a few test and sent me to the Emergency Room for stat MRI/CT where they found the VAD. I was admitted for the night and put on heparin released the next day and put on coumadin for 6 mths.

This happened in Jan 2012 and I had a few sessions of Pt, accupuncture, massage therapy, and was released to return back to work just to re-injury myself. I have been on work comp for more than a year and half. I have more frequent Migraines, still numbness and tingling down my left arm, constant shoulder/neck pain that throbs with muscle spams. I am currently on verapamil ( to prevent migrai nes) naproxen to help with swelling and imetrex for when I get a migraine.

I did get a lawyer b/c the work comp doc put me at my max medical improvement a few months ago, meaning there is nothing more they can do for me, however I strongly disagree and fought it and I am currently waiting to begin PT again.

Has anyone had any long term effects from VAD?

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (after car accident), M59

101 days after rear ended at a stop light(she was going 40)(I was stopped)had bad Whiplash, headaches, doc`s said VAD likely, when treating Stroke, need help with case, more info.?

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (Stretching), F34

I woke up one morning and went to my local Crossfit gym and started to stretch before the workout. As I was stretching my back and neck I immediately felt dizzy like I was falling  and I sat down and got nauseated and started sweating. I thought I was having a migraine but then I had visual loss and I couldn't walk or make out words I knew something wasn't right/. My I instructor asked if I was ok I told him no I think I needed to go to the ER.

I arrived at the ER and they treated me with a migraine cocktail. However my vision loss continued, my left hand wandered and my speech was off and my neck started to hurt. The ER doc had the neurologist come and assess me and proceeded to do an MRI. The CT was negative however the MRI showed a dissected artery in the right side with a clot. I was flown out to another hospital and placed in the ICU. Doctors were amazed on how fast I was recovering I had no motor defects just some peripheral vision los s in the left eye and some flashing lights.

I was released after only two days on aspirin 325. It's only been a week and I'm already frustrated and want to go back to my normal daily functions. I'm very thankful that the vision loss was the only thing I suffered but to me that alone was enough. I'm just amazed I have nothing in my medical history that would warrant this to happen. I mean really stretching humpff.

I just graduated with my BSN. I'm supposed be the nurse not the patient! I have a follow up on Tuesday for another MRI hopefully there will be some good news there trying to stay positive and deal with the vision loss that I pray will come back!

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (Workout), M43

At 4:00am on September 20, 2012 I woke up to the most painful headache I have ever imagined. It was piercing on the left side of my neck and lower part of my head. I took some Tylenol and then went back to sleep. I woke up at 700am to get ready to go to the office as I was travelling for business at the time. My headache wasn't quite as bad, but I felt extremely foggy. My first few steps out of bed, I was walking to the left. I couldn't walk straight. Being a typical guy, I didn't want to think anything was truly wrong so I was able to hold on and take a shower, get something to eat, and the office was right across the street so I walked over to the office. By the time I sat down at the office, I was extremely wobbly, spinning like crazy, and someone took me down to the hospital. That was at 9am. During the day at the hospital, I had a CT scan, then MRI and it wasn't until 6pm they told me I had a stroke. I wasn 't doing that bad at the time, just foggy, spinning like crazy, and vomiting a few times, but they said they had to keep me overnight and then at about 10pm they said they would airlift me back to the U.S. as I was on one of the islands and they were worried I might need a neurosurgeon and they didn't have one on the island. The plane was coming in the morning. I went to sleep after this and woke up at about midnight. When I woke up again, I had lost my voice, I couldn't read anything on my phone as my eyes were out of focus, had tingling all up and down my right side. I called the Dr over and he thought I was just stressed about flying out, but I know things had gotten worse. The later diagnosis was a 2nd stroke. When I went to get up at 4am to use the bathroom, I realized I couldn't walk at all. I tried to hold on as I made my way over to the bathroom, but just fell right on my butt and they all came rushing I to see what was going on.

So the next day I was flown back to the U.S. and had a team of neurologists looking at me and it was clear I had a stroke as I couldn't walk, my eye was droopy, couldn't swallow, had lost my voice, and my eyes were "dancing" all around. They did all sorts of tests, but never mentioned the word dissection. I had high cholesterol so the neurologist said the stroke was due to high cholesterol. After 6 nights in the hospital, was transferred to an inpatient physical therapy as I could barely walk with a walker. The drs there concluded that my stroke was due to a dissection. He said all my other arteries are spic and span, but the vertebralar artery was fully blocked and if it was due to high cholesterol, the effects of the high cholesterol would have effected arteries throughout my body, not just one artery. He was great. He walked me through the days leading up to the stokre and I had done a very strenuous workout a few days before the stroke and after that workout had gotten dull headaches leading up to the stroke. The conclusion was that the dissection occurred due to the workout. I have seen 2 other neurologists and after looking at the results of the MRI/MRA, they have reached the same diagnosis.

It has been just over a year and wow, what a year it has been. I did 7 months of physical therapy as my balance and nostagmus(vision related as eyes were dancing and I couldn't focus) and also had great trouble processing motion. My recovery timeline was as follows:

1) 6 months of motion related headaches. if there was any motion around me, I would get headaches. This lasted for 6 months.
2) Nostagamus - I had to wear a patch for 2 months as my eyes weren't working well together and my eyes gradually improved over time as now my eyes aren't dancing quite as much and after 10 months was able to drive again. My neuro optomologist has said the improvement has been great. Still not 100%, but being able to drive has been wonderful!
3) Nerve and muscle pain - I have nerve pain on the left side of my face and pain up and down the right side of my body. Not nearly as bad as it was, but it feels like one big bruise. I I also can't feel hot and cold out of the right side of my body. The nerve pain has gotten better, but just started taking lyrica for it so hopefully it helps with the discomfort.
4) Balance - My balance was soooo bad, but after about 9-10 months, I felt like I was almost all the way back. I was finally able to go on slow jogs and start to workout(although no exercises putting my neck in any sort of awkward position!!!!!!). A few weeks ago I was able to play volleyball. In judging the ball coming to me combined with the movement to return the ball, move around, etc...it almost brought a tear to my eye to be able to play and nobody playing realized just how big a "victory" that was for me.

All sorts of other smaller issues, but main thing is my head is clear, I can walk around and nobody would notice anything different with the exception of my eye still being a bit droopy. The Dr's said they can correct that cosmetically so I might get the procedure done in the coming months.

Anyhow, this was a recap of my story, but I found this website a few months after my stroke and read all of the testimonials and they truly helped me stay positive!!!! Thank you!!!! This website and all of you with stories are great. I wish each and every person who visits this website due to the VAD they suffered the very best in their recovery.

VAD, Spontaneous (after chiropractor visit), F49

Hi, I guess I will tell you the short version of what happened. I have been attending a chiropractor for a headache, which usually went away if I had a C1 manipulation. The difference with this one was that I had this headache for at least for a month before the VAD.  I had been attending the chiropractor for help for my headache. I eventually was told by my GP to take Pandeine Forte for the pain. I was still attending my chiropractor who kept telling me that my C1 vertbrae was stuck and that was why my headache was continuing. I attended the chiropractic clinic when I had an adjustment that made me feel sick and dizzy....I was informed it was my "Vagis nerve". A couple of days later it happened again, where the pain intensified 10 fold and made me feel very sick and like I was going to pass out. The pain was so intensive I held my head and cried out in pain. When I came back a couple of days later he tried to get my C1 into place again...this time as soon as he manipulated my neck I felt like I was falling, I had no control over my speech, I couldn't move at all, I was extremely hot, it was very scary and I thought I was dying there and then. I now have a blocked artery in my brain because of a blood clot from this procedure.

VAD, Spontaneous, F35

I was so thankful to find all these stories here! It really put into perspective how rare this is and how dangerous! Feeling incredibly blessed to have been diagnosed early. On a Saturday night I had been swimming in a Hot Springs and got water in my ear. I spent a good deal of time that night and the next morning jumping up and down, hitting my head on one side trying to get the water out. The next night I recall my next getting sore, I just assumed it was from sleeping funny. The following day it was getting stiffer and by the night was pretty tender. I woke that night with a pounding pain in my neck and took four ibuprofen, went back to sleep. I got up in the morning, made coffee, and was getting ready for work when I flipped my hair to put it in a pony tail....my world immediately started spinning. I sat on the floor, and then laid down thinking maybe I was dizzy since my blood pressure was low (I'm a nurse). I spun even more once lying flat. When my husband helped me to the couch I kept falling to my right and could not stand up straight. I would throw up with any movement. The ER doc initially told me I had benign vertigo and gave me Antivert and Zofran, after a period they were going to discharge me home but I still couldn't walk straight. It was then he decided to do an MRI and an MRA! I am so thankful he did the MRA or it would have been missed. My right vertebral artery had dissected and had a clot from C1-C7. While in the hospital I started having right facial numbness which is slowly resolving now. I was in ICU for two nights then on the floor for another four nights while on Heparin branching to coumadin. I'm home now and the splotchy vision is improving and my dizziness is much better! I am so thankful to be in the condition I am in. I have a three month old daughter and a two year old busy little boy!

VAD, Spontaneous, F28

I am only 9 DAYS out from my VAD, this is all very new and even more scary. I am a mom of 3 children ages 4, 7 and 8. On Sunday October 6 I started having pain in my neck, as the hours went on the pain became unbareable! It started going into my shoulder, down the front of my chest and down the back of my shoulder blade. I instantly thought something was wrong. By Tuesday Oct 8th I just could not handle the pain any longer, we do not have insurance but I kept telling my husband and my mom something is seriously wrong with me, I have fibromyalgia and this pain was pain I have never experienced in my entire life. I would rather go through childbirth with no pain meds than feel what I've been feeling.

That day I took myself to the ER and they ran no tests just told me i had pulled the muscle in my neck, gave me a shot of Tornadol, a prescription for 500 mg vicodin and sent me home.

As the days went on I'm crying myself to sleep, waking up crying all night and waking up in the morning crying, the pain was excrusiating! Still telling my husband something is wrong with me!

On Fri Oct 11th my husband realizes something just isn't right so HE takes me to the ER and tells them how last time they just pushed me through and is now demanding they run tests. So luckily the ER doc this time does a CT Scan and tells me I have VAD and that I need to get transported via ambulance to UCSF (University of California San Francisco Medical Center)

I was taken almost immediately 2 hours away in the ambulance and put in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit which is where I stayed until Sunday Oct 13. The fact that I was uninsured played a part in that I'm sure. I was told to take 325 mg of aspirin every day and basically cross my fingers and pray to God I don't have a stroke. What I need is 2 different blood thinners along with a brain scan, and blood draws 2-3 times a week for the next 3-6 months.

On my right artery I have 2 tears, one on the bottom leading to my heart and one on top leading to my brain, along with the dissection, my artery is very narrow compared to my left and its not straight like my left one.

I finally found this amazing non profit foundation here where I live called St. Lukes where they will take me as a patient for free, praise God!

This is so scary for me so it is nice to find somewhere that has people who understand the waiting, the fear and all that comes with VAD. THANK YOU!!!

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F29

I was 26 when I had my first stroke. When I first got symptoms (blurred vision, nausea) I thought it was a migraine, which I had suffered from since childhood. However, these quickly progressed to severe vertigo and vomiting and lack of coordination. I called a friend who called an ambulance and took me to the ER. I'm an RN, so I know the symptoms of a stroke. When I arrived at the ER, I told the on call physician that I thought I was having a stroke. They took my medical history, and as soon as they learned of the migraines, dismissed my symptoms as those related to migraine. I asked for a CT scan, but was told it wasn't warranted. I was then discharged from the hospital with a narcotic prescription for headaches.

My symptoms mostly resolved over the next few weeks, aside from incredible fatigue and persistent headaches/blurred vision. I then had a second episode of loss of balance/coordination which did not resolve. I actually fell off my chair while reading, it was so bad. I was too embarrassed to go to the hospital (as I had been "wrong" in my self-diagnosis a few weeks earlier) so I did not seek medical attention. However, unlike before, my symptoms did not get better. They progressed to severe vertigo, disturbed speech, and numbness in my face and limbs. I finally went to the hospital where I was treated for dehydration related to persistent nausea/vomiting and sent home.

I went to my family physician after burning my foot in the bathtub (because I couldn't feel the water temperature). It was her who finally took me seriously and sent me back to emergency to have a CT scan.

When they finally got the CT results, it showed that I had bilateral vertebral artery dissections with resulting strokes. It also showed that the strokes occurred at different times, the first likely when I had gone to the ER via ambulance the first time. I was admitted to the hospital for about a week.

It has been a long road to recovery. I had to re-learn to walk and to write. I still suffer from fatigue, occasional speech problems and lack of coordination. I lost my drivers license for 3 months and had to move myself and (then 2 year old son) in with my mother to help us. I am now back to work 3 days a week but that is the most I can do without being too tired. It's frustrating but I am lucky compared to many.

Thank you for creating this site. I hope that increases awareness about this illness and that other people's symptoms are not so easily dismissed. This is becoming far more common and physicians need to look for it rather than assuming a young person cannot be having a stroke.

Side note - I was 26 years old, thin, active, otherwise healthy. No stroke risk factors other than the presenting symptoms (vision and speech problems, neck pain, vertigo, vomiting).

I would be happy to talk with anyone else who has been through this or has more questions about my experience.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F37

I had neck pain with a head ache all day. I went to bed as I normally do. I woke up at 4:00AM due to a dream that I was spinning in. I struggled to straighten myself on the bed. I put my feet on the floor to stop the dizziness. It continued, I crawled to the bathroom. I was vomiting several times. I was so dizzy I tried to focus on a spot on the ceiling. I called to my husband to help me. He thought I meant back to bed. I said I need to get to the hospital. He put my shoes on, gathered my meds, gave me a trash can and guided/carried me to the van.

At the hospital they thought it was a migraine and vertigo. When I could not stand on my own the ER doctor ordered an MRI. It showed I had suffered 3 minor stokes and was admitted to ICU. I had terrible pain in my neck, head, and ear. I lost muscle control on the right side of my face and body. I could not walk for a week. I stayed in the hospital for 8 days. I was given heparin drip and morphine.

I have been home for 3 weeks now. I did use a walker for two weeks. Now I just hold the wall if I need to. I still have neck pain and a slight case of nausea and the dizzies. I have a repeat MRI in a few weeks. No one knows why this happened. My doctor said I was the youngest stroke patient she has ever had. Thank you for putting this site together. It really helps with the fear of the unknown.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F75

I recently had neck pain to the point I was crying. Driving home I got dizzy and immediately had a small stroke where my eyesight dimmed and I was shaking. This happened a week ago. I went to my GP Doc and he felt there was nothing to do about it because I have mitral valve problems so I am on Warfarin. I am a retired lady, but in a lot of stress now because of the VAD. I don't know who to go to to get help about what's going to happen to me or if I can heal it myself via food and certain exercises. Is there really no surgery that can help?

VAD, Spontaneous (neck injury), M39

I suffered a VAD September 2001 after sustaining a neck Injury while working out at the gym. I was benchpressing, and as I reached the end of my set I was arching my back and straining when I felt a severe pain on the right side of my neck. I left the gym, thinking it was just a strained muscle, because I had no other symptoms other than pain. Over the next few days the pain did not let up, but did not get any worse.

Four days later, while at work, I suddenly experienced severe vertigo. I fell to the floor while everything was spinning around me. Fortunately I work at a hospital, so my coworkers helped me to a hospital bed. The ER docs did a CT scan and found the dissection. I was put on pradaxa and sent home after a few days of observation.

The first month following my injury I experienced pretty severe dizziness and balance problems. The neck pain and headaches only lasted another week or so and after that I was pain free. In fact I was symptom free within about 6 weeks. After a couple of months I returned to the gym and started lifting light weights. I was careful to keep the weights light. I continued working out for a few months and felt no symptoms at all.

About 8 months later I started feeling dizzy again. I'm not sure if I reinjured it but when I had my 2nd follow up CT scan the doctor said that, not only was it not any better, but it was actually slightly worse, and it looked like the artery was completely occluded now. In hindsight, I probably should not have been lifting weight, but I thought light weights would not be a problem. After the second CT scan, I was told by my doctor to continue taking the pradaxa, and to stick to light to moderate exercise. I decided to stick with cardio and mainly just jogged through my neighborhood.

A few weeks into this, I began to experience fairly severe neck pain, headaches and nausea. This was May of 2012, and although the headaches are less frequent, and not as intense they have never let up over the past 17 months. Which seems strange to me, because even at the time of my original injury, I did experience pain like I do now. Even mowing the lawn, can bring on a headache, or turning my neck too sharp when I lay down for a nap.

My doctor just wants to give me medication for migraines, I don't think he really knows a whole lot about VAD's. At this point, I'm afraid to do any kind of exercise, it seems when I try to do anything, regardless of what it is, the pain seems to get worse. I basically have stopped going to the gym altogether, which is really tough, because I love to exercise. I decided to give my story on this website, and hopefully get some feedback from fellow VAD sufferers.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (trauma), M27

In July of 2012, I suffered a vertebral artery dissection resulting in a stroke at the age of 27. I was/am in good health - no high cholesterol, heart issues, etc. They said it could have just been bad luck or a dumb jump in the pool.

I had been having some neck pains for about 2 weeks prior and all of the sudden one evening the left side of my face went numb, followed by the remainder of the left side of my body and I collapsed as I wasn't able to keep my balance.

Fortunately, I was with my now wife and good friend who were able to have me to Park Nicollet Hospital (MN) within 20 minutes of my stroke occurring. They immediately took me into the ER and ordered an MRI to confirm it was a stroke prior to administering tPA as well. Luckily, I made the 4.5 hour window for the tPA. My body temperature had dropped to 94.5 and I couldn't feel a thing on the left side of my body, nor did I have the ability to lift my arm or leg.

Following the tPA I was checked into the ICU where I remained for 3 days, under constant watch and having my neuros checked everything 15-30 minutess for the first 48 hours. Luckily, my stroke didn't affect my brain in regards to speech and memory as I can still recall to this day every moment of the above mentioned events. Unfortunately, I am/ was a very active person and completely lost the ability to stand or walk for about 2 weeks. Our decision to drive to Park Nicollet worked out, as it is one of few hospitals in the state which offers a Neuro Stroke Unit...both treatment and rehabilitation. This was followed by 3 weeks of 3 hours/day of inpatient therapy, both occupational and physical therapy, and continuing with outpatient 3 months after my discharge from the hospital, returning to work in October

It has been nearly 18 months now since I had my stroke and would say that I am at about 65-70% recovered. I still do not have feeling for the most part in the left side of my body but have relearned how to walk and live my life again although balance is an ongoing issue.

If it weren't for family, friends, the doctors at Park Nicollet, I can't say I would be where I am today almost a year later. They say improvements will continue over the next 2 years....

VAD, Spontaneous (chiropractor adjustment), F42

I am 42 years old and on Nov. 12th, 2013 I suffered a VAD after going to a chiropractor for a manual adjustment. I had been working out of town for a month and needed an adjustment after having the flu. I called my chiropractor in my home town and asked who they would recommend in the city I was in. I made an appointment and went in. The chiropractor I was from my home town and was someone I'd known for years. There was nothing unusual about the adjustment and I was to go back in for a follow up that coming Friday.

I drove back to my office and as I was backing into a parking spot I got really dizzy and things went fuzzy for a couple of seconds. I finished backing in and was still a little dizzy. Got out of my truck and took some deep breaths of fresh air and felt ok. I got back into the office and sat down at my desk, turn on my computer and felt like I was going to get sick. I started to vomit and new I need to sit down on the floor or I would fall out of the chair. One of the gals I was working with came into my cube to see what the chiropractor had said and found me on the floor vomiting uncontrollably, she went and go cold clothes for me. When she came back I said to her there is something wrong with my neck, it felt like someone had turned a warm water faucet on at the base of my skull and was letting it run down my back. She said she was going to go call the chiropractor and let him know something was wrong. She came back and said he wanted to back in his office and I said I can't move. She went and got my boss and another manager. When they saw me my boss to her to call for an ambulance, the ambulance was there within 2 mins.

By this point my vision was bad and I was incoherent off and on. I knew who I was and where I was at, the year, the president, my DOB. The emts gave me an anti nausea meds and I threw them up, an IV was started and I was asked if I could stand up to get o n the gurney and I was unable to. They picked me up and placed me on the gurney. While in the back of the ambulance a 2nd IV was attempted to be placed but was unsuccessful, I knew then I was in serious trouble. My boss had to make the call to my husband that I was on my way to the hospital via an ambulance. I told my boss to tell my husband there was no need for him to travel to the city where I was at, until we knew more.

At the hospital they first thought that maybe I had the flu again. Blood & urine tests where ran and everything came back normal. They decide to do a CAT scan to see if my carotid arteries could be blocked, but to their surprise the scan showed the VAD. Upon returning to the ER room after the scan I was put on an heparin drip and a vascular surgeon had already been called in. I was then moved into a regular hospital room and keep overnight. Once I found out what was going on I called my husband and told him. He then traveled the four hours to where I was and brought me home back home the next day. I was sent home on blood thinners for a month and was to follow up with my family doctor on a weekly basis and a repeat CAT scan after 4 weeks.

I was told that this was a freak accident and the chances of this happening are 1 in a million. I had the repeat CAT scan and it still shows a tear, but my family doctor did not have the first scan to compare the second scan too. He told me that I need to do a follow up appointment with the vascular surgeon. So on Jan 6th I will go see the vascular surgeon and see what he has to say. He did tell me in the hospital that if the scan showed the tear was healing still healing after 4 weeks I would be on blood thinners for 3 months with monthly scans, if there was no change then he would go and insert a coil into the artery.

The chiropractor that did the adjustment came to the ER, then came up to see me that night, called me the next morning and has called me a few times since. He told me he had heard of VAD but it had never happened to him or anyone he knew. This was the scariest thing I have ever been through. I honestly thought I was going to die and keep telling them I'm going to die aren't I and the nurses keep telling me no your not going to die.

I am now limited to what I can do until this heals. I am one who does not like to be down or limited to what I can do. I am back to work, but my co workers keep a good eye on me. My boss told me that he has seen people sick before, but never someone as sick looking and bleach white as I was that day. I work for a major corporation and at their safety meeting in the facility I was working in when this happened one of the topics was what had happened to me and the gal that help take care of me was given a $50 gift card for doing all she did for me.

I have told all of my family members who use a chiropractor to please be aware and let their chiropractor know that this happened to me. One family member went to his chiropractor and told him what had happened and he said it is 1 in a million chance and that it is also can happen when you go to the beauty shop to get your hair done and put your head back in the bowl. Which made sense to me, because I have heard of people having a stroke after they sit up from the bowl.

I am very thankful for the outstanding doctors I had at the hospital I was taken to. They all knew what VAD was and what steps needed to be taken and a plan of action. My two boys 24 yrs old and 17 yrs old I have nicked name them the artery police, because they don't let me do anything I'm not suppose to. I am so happy to see that I am not the only one out there with this. Thank you to all of you that have shared your stories.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (over-stretching neck), M57

I live near the beach in Crosby Liverpool. Because of the hundreds of shipwrecks in the 20th/21st C in the Mersey Estuary there are often large chunks of boiler coal washed up on the beach after rough weather. On Jan 11th 2013 I was collecting some of those. After filling a backpack I suddenly felt a pulsing twinge behind my right eye and neck. Next morning Saturday I awoke to a massive headache and found I couldn't walk or talk properly. I called my own ambulance, saying I thought I'd had a stroke. The paramedics gave me Aspirin straight away and as a precaution intravenous warfarin.

I was initially diagnosed with Labyrinthitis as I had really bad vertigo. As nothing showed to evidence a stroke in a CAT scan I was left in a general ward without appropriate med' until the stroke Consultant came in on Monday Afternoon and sent me for an MRI which confirmed a R VAD. I was given Clopidogrel, I have a gastric intolerance to norm al Aspirin. I took Clopidogrell for 6 months. My balance mostly returned after 6 weeks. My R adenoids no longer function, I can't detect hot or cold on my left side and constantly have a Sunburn sensation there. My right eye has lost some vision. I have breathing problems and snore for the first time ever. I also have sleep apnea. I have also been diagnosed this week, one year later with mild depression. Not too bad though.

On the positive side, before the stroke I knew the lyrics, and could play the music to lots of songs, that didn't go away and I have found memorizing that sort of thing easier. The experience of facing oblivion has made me a stronger person always seeking the positive. I was told Initially I had a CAD and only found out this week that it was a R VAD

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (after chiropractic treatment), F37

Monday, January 13, 2014 I noticed I had an annoying headache. Over the next three days I tried Advil, Aleve, and Excedrin Migraine to no avail. Unrelated to the headache, I went to my monthly Chiropractic adjustment on Tuesday. I have gone monthly for 5 years and I always had cervical manipulations. There was nothing special to note about my adjustment on Tuesday except that during my neck adjustment, the left side hurt and did not move. The chiropractor did not try again. It didn't feel any worse or better and my headache was not worse or better.

On Wednesday evening, I was leaving work and had just gotten in my car. I called my husband using my hands-free earbud. I noticed that my left arm was completely numb and I couldn't lift it up completely. My hand was hanging limp at the end of my arm. I pulled back into my parking lot and my husband was going to come get me. Then I got a horrible stabbing headache on the left back part of my head. It was excruciating. All of a sudden I experienced the worst vertigo that I have ever had. I also remember not being able to think properly. My thinking was slow. My speaking was slow. I decided to call an ambulance. When they arrived, they immediately did stroke tests on me (smile, blink, stick my tongue out) and I passed all of the stroke tests. My blood pressure was high for me, but was not considered dangerous by them. They transported me to the ER.

The ER really fixated on asking questions about migraines. I have had a couple of migraines here and there, but nothing that I considered a problem or anything. They ordered a CT scan and then cancelled it and ordered an MRI at the suggestion of a neurologist who had been making rounds. I did not see this doctor, but because of my presentation and my age, the neurologist said an MRI would be best. The MRI showed a Ischemic Cerebral Stroke. The ER doc said that he was so glad the neurologist suggested the MRI; otherwise I may have been sent home with a migraine diagnosis. I was moved immediately to the stroke unit of the hospital where they started an aggressive barrage of exams. I passed all of the stroke tests they gave me in there. They checked my carotid arteries, they did an echo cardiogram on my heart. After those tests came up clean, they chose to do a CT scan with contrast dye. That test showed a complete occlusion of the left vertebral artery. They had found the culprit of the stroke and started me on Lovenox injections along with Warfarin. I stayed in the hospital until Saturday, Jan 18, 2014. I am now working on getting stable INR numbers showing that my warfarin is therapeutic. so far, so good. I have stopped the Lovenox injections and have returned to work remotely this week. I will return to the office next week.

My residual side effects right now (Jan 29 - two weeks after the stroke): I have headaches off and on. Nothing huge, but still there. I have a very sore neck. I can't tell if it is muscular from laying around or if there is some pain there from the healing. I am depressed and I cry easily (this could also be because they took me off of hormones (birth control pills) which increase stroke risk). I also have anxiety that I never had before.

All in all, I feel lucky.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (Teakwondo sparring), M31

I am writing this on behalf of my husband who had a stroke caused by a vertebral artery dissection on January 11, 2014. On January 11, 2014, a Saturday my husband and I got ready for our kickboxing class. The day before he had taken a taekwondo class and he had gotten kicked in the neck but didn't think anything of it. Toward the end of our workout he began dragging his left leg and felt dizzy and nauseated. Thinking it was just dehydration he drank some orange juice and I drove him home.

On the way home he said he thought he had a migrane. As soon as we got home he laid down on the floor. He said his arms were tingling and he was dizzy but that happens with his migraines as well. After about 45 minutes he lost consciousness and began to have what I thought was a seizure. I called the ambulance and once at the ER he was given a CT which was normal.

The doctors kept asking me about diet supplements and if he took any drugs. His diagnosis in the ER was seizures but he was admitted anyway. A telemedicine visit with a neurologist ruled out stroke immediately. However, he was still unresponsive the next day so an MRI was done. It was then that they saw the narrowing and dissection of his right vertebral artery and blood on his cerebellum. Heparin was started and he began to regain consciousness but his left side was very uncoordinated as well as his speech.

Monday afternoon he was transferred to Kansas University Medical Center and an angiogram was done. It was found that he only had a 30% narrowing and it was extracranial which was good. He is now home and on Asprin and Lipitor. He has regained most of his speech but has slight aphasia and is working on his coordination. He has physical, occupational, and speech therapy. We go back to see his neurologist in March.

No one really knows why he had his dissection. Blood tests for genetic connective tissue disorders were run as well as autoimmune tests. We think it was from sparring and getting kicked in the neck. We hope that this doesn't reoccur and that he recovers completely.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (chiropractic adjustment), F53

I was experiencing onset of typical frequent migraine when a massage therapist who worked with chiropracter stated he would give adjustment for me.

After entering and interacting with chiropractor, I agreed to receive adjustment for neck related migraine. After being told to lie face down on adjustment table. Chiro takes out a device. I ask what is it called? He says it's called actuator. He then half asks if 70 lb is too much. I say I don't know. I assume this licensed chiro knows what he's doing.

He presses this spring loaded type device onto the back of my neck over center and again over right lower occipital area.

I leave feeling slightly lightheaded and acutely sleepy. I drive short distance home. Fall asleep instantly. Sleep maybe 2 hours. Awaken with the worst head pain of my entire life. Pain is over where Chiro adjust area. Go to ER where they say I am just having migraine. Despite my telling them about chiro adjustment initiating.

Symptoms: Unable to speak clearly/garbled. Right arm unable to lift. Confusion. Unbalanced walk. Doctors need to become educated about symptoms of VAD ans Carotid dissection. ER was clueless. I had stroke. It took months to regain basic ability like swallowing without choking, etc., Tinnitus. Sensitivity (acute) to light and sound. Difficulty walking. Eventually I was diagnosed both right carotid and R. vertebral artery dissection. It took days to be diagnosed. Vascular dr. said in 13.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (chiropractic manipulation), M36

Two weeks ago my neck was sore and so I decided to go to a chiropractor to get it adjusted. It didn't get any better and so then a week and half ago I went to different chiropractor. He adjusted my neck and right after he adjusted my neck, my vision went blurry for like an hour. Like an idiot I went back in to see him again this past Monday for another adjustment of my neck.

On Tuesday I was walking on our jobsite and all of a sudden my right side started to feel funny. I couldn't walk straight. I sat down for 20 minutes or so. I called the chiropractor to see what he thought I should do-given the symptoms that I had. He told me not to go to the ER and that I should just come in for another adjustment. Luckily I didn't listen to him. I had my brother drive me to the ER in Wadena Minnesota.

The doctors working there, fortunately recognized the stroke symptoms that I had and had me transported by ambulance to the St. Cloud Mn Stroke Intervention center. I had 2 cat scans and one MRI done. At the stroke center I got the correct help which minimized the damage caused by the stroke. The doctors in Saint Cloud told me that the dissection caused a mini stroke.

I am now on warfarin(coumadin) to fight against future clots. The doctors determined that my dissection should heal on it's own. I will never let a chiropractor touch my neck again. I should have a full recovery, although right now it is a lot of work to read text because it is a real strain to focus my eyes. I also have trouble coming up with the correct words, when I am visiting with someone.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (gym work-out), F54

I am so glad that I found this site. 5 years I have been living with a secondary carotid dissection, left with 6'th nerve palsey. No one seems to understand what a dissection is, out there in the real world. Have read many of your stories.

Was working out at the gym, told my trainer that I felt like my head was going to explode as it turned red. She said that's okay it just means that your blood is flowing, like an idiot I proceeded, the pain in the neck came. The doctors told me that I had a slow bleed, and had a stroke 3 days later, second carotid dissection.

Have been living a life of hell ever since with the doctors. The first hospital where I was in neuro ICU was out of state, now my insurance does not cover me to go there. Primary doctor is sending me to a new neurologist in my state locally. Pray to god he knows what he is doing, have to start over from scratch.

My heart is so saddened to read the stories of people that claim that they know what they are doing, and inflict suffering on their subjects. Will never go to a chiropractor, nor to a gym again!

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F26

I am a 26 year old female, with a clean slate of heath before bilat VAD. It all started with severe headaches, only on one side, which I suspected was an ear infection, that got worse down my neck when I turned my head. So after two or three days, I made an appointment with my primary care doctor. He told me that my ear was clear, that it might just be hurting because I was just getting over a sinus infection.

After a few more days, I noticed it was getting worse, so I went to the Emergency Room. Here, they did no blood work, not CT scan, no tests at all. They hooked me up to an IV and gave me tramadol and morphine, and said that it was just migraines or cluster headaches, and sent me home. It went away for the night, but when I woke up in them morning it was worse than ever.

So, called my dr and tried to get an appointment, and went off to work. My doctors office called during the day and told me they had no appointments until the following Friday. So I finished my day at work. I went to my nephews 6th birthday party, and on my way home the headache got so bad I had to pull over. Once it had went a way a little bit I drove myself to the nearest hospital where, BEFORE I even got into triage they brought me to CTSCAN. Once I got into a room, they did blood work, and then another CT Scan with contrast, where they found what they thought to be a small aneurism, so they transported me to TUFTS Medical center in Boston, where I was admitted for a week.

During my stay there, I was put on a heparin drip, and was given baby aspirin. I had another MRI, and a diagnostic angiogram, where my team of neurologists found I had TWO bilateral vertebral artery dissections. After one day, the heparin drip was stopped, and I was given only baby aspirin. I was given percocet PRN for pain. Upon discharge, I was instructed to take 75 mg of pradaxa twice daily, nothing for pain except tylenol or Percocet. I had a follow up with my doctor a week later, where he decided another MRI was necessary, which showed that one side had gotten better and one side had gotten worse, which called for another angiogram. The angiogram concluded what was seen in the MRI. They upped my pradaxa from 75mg twice daily to 150mg twice daily.

I've been out of work for about a month now. Have another MRI in about a week and a half. I know I'm not supposed to do any lifting/pulling/pushing, but besides that what am I not supposed to do? They weren't very clear with my limitations, I do know rest is key but I'm still a little uncertain what is okay and what is not okay.

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Chiropractic Adjustments Causing Vertebral Artery Dissections?

Sandy Nette's Story

Sandy's goal is for chiropractors to stop neck manipulations.

Britt Harwe's Story

One of Britt's goals is that chiropractors be required to offer an informed consent form.