Vertebral Artery Dissection

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Personal VAD & Stroke Stories - Page 4

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.

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

Bi-Lat VAD, Stroke, Chiropractic Manipulation, F36

I didn't realize that so many others have experienced what I had until I happened to find this page Googling vertebral artery dissection.

I was home alone and outside running a snowblower on a Sat morning in December, when suddenly the whole world was spinning and I was falling to one side. I got myself in the house somehow and then started to feel worse. I found my cell phone in my pocket but couldn't think right to call 911. I pressed speed dial and got a friend. By this time, I couldn't feel my entire left side and couldn't talk. My friend couldn't understand half of what I was saying but got help and hospital out of it. The ambulance came and they said they believed I was having a stroke. A stroke at age 36!!! I got to the ER and they did CT scan, showing nothing except a sinus infection. They were stumped. They did a spinal tap and saw nothing there. They admitted me to the hospital without any real diagnosis, but I couldn't walk and was still super dizzy. At least I could feel my arm and leg again by this time.

The next day the hospital doc came in and she was a young woman near my age. She was determined to find the cause of the original symptoms and did an MRI. They found bilateral artery dissection and that I had also had 3 small strokes.

I spent 9 days in the hospital over Christmas, and went through the typical heparin drip & anti-clot shots in the belly. I had days and days of spinal headaches from the tap but they couldn't do the blood patch due to the level of my blood, so I just had pain meds to deal. After finally getting home, I eventually could walk some without getting dizzy.

I have recovered fairly well in the last 3 months, although I still have a few lingering effects. Sometimes I stutter really bad, especially when I'm tired. I have horrible anxiety that is making life difficult, and I'm still trying to get back to driving. When I drive, I can only handle a short amount of time before it's just too much information for me to handle. Same with large crowds of people; too many conversations at once and for some reason my brain wants to listen to every one of them. Hopefully with more time and practice these will all get better. And now my migraines that I had been seeing chiropractic for are back and am having to find a new way to deal.

If I had known that the years of chiro care I had been getting for my migraines would cause this to happen to me, I certainly would have found an alternative. This has been the hardest thing I've had to handle.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F28

Last May, I answered the telephone at work around 10 am on a Thursday.  I began having shooting pain in my ear, horrible headaches and over 3 weeks, 6 doctors couldn't figure out what it was.  I worked at a chiropractic clinic and began having ultrasounds done on my neck.  I was always scared of manipulations and would not have them done.  After going to the ED for help and being told there was nothing on the CT and that I had a severe ear infection, I told my boss about everything and he suggested I get an xray to make sure I was free of fracture. In the following week I saw and ENT who said I did not have an ear infection and the xray came back negaitive.  I took a week off of work and began taking numerous pain medication and muscle relaxers, perscribed by my GP, just to be able to "function."  May 29, 1:30pm I had my appointment with my chiro.  (it is important to note that only one chiropractor at the practice refused to do the manipulation with out an MRI).  The c-sp
 ine adjustment was fast and the sound was horrible.  I expected that.  I did not expect to have the most painful, shooting, heat through the center of my head.  I screamed and then shut up because we had a client in the waiting room.  I sat up and moved to the chair in the corner of the room.  I never lost motor function but I did lose complete feeling in my right side.  The chiro helped me walk back to the table and ran a few tests on my face; then called the owner of the clinic.  I was told it's a stinger like in football. The next thing I knew I was being put into an ambulance.  I was not tested for stroke until around midnight at the hospital.  Everything else was considered first because I was only 27.  In the hospital I had the standard heprin treatment (which they messed up) followed by the coumidain.  I recieved my DC from OT and PT while in the hospital.  I asked to be put back into therapy in the month following.  I went through 6 months of OT, PT and cognative the
 rapies and I had to stop because we lost insurance.  However, my case was mild and I have been able to continue getting stronger at home.  I have regained most feeling and function.  Obviously I had something going on before the manipulation but was it a dissection?  who knows.  We do know that the adjustment kicked out a clot and caused a stroke; the doctors could not tell me how the dissection occured.  I was considered healthy, no trauma, and the only medication was oral contraceptives. I'm in the Dallas area and was treated at Presbytrian Hospital Plano.

Also, it is worth noting:  no tests were preformed to rule out VAD.  There are tests avalible.  In our clinic there was a release from stating the possible side effects of adjustments.  I no longer work there; in fact I have not returned to the work force since then.  My joke the day of the stroke was I'd rather be paralyzed than feel this pain...be careful what you ask for.

VAD, No Stroke, Spontaneous (but fell), F54

I had a VAD in August 2003. I am in fine health now. This is my story:  While vacationing I had a fall that may have jerked my neck; I also suffered a severe whiplash 15 years prior. After the fall, I lost fine motor control in my right hand and had Horners Syndrome in my left eye. I also felt sick with a sore throat, sore neck and shoulder muscles and fatigue. I went to an ER and the physician told me I had Lyme Disease. I went to my PCP at home, he sent my to an eye doctor, the eye doctor sent me to a Cleveland Clinic Opthamology Neurologist. After MRI he told me I must have had a dissection of the carotid artery although he could not see it. I then went to another neurologist at CCF who ordered an angiogram. The angiogram showed the occluded VAD.

It took 10 days days to get the diagnosis. I was on Coumadin for 3 months and restricted activity. It was frightening. I was so tired. I needed naps and I have never slept so deeply. My neck, shoulder and arm were sore as the blood vessels rerouted themselves. 

I slowly got my life back. I have been on 325mg aspirin,fish oil and Toprol XL since then. For the first few years, I would get easliy confused, especially when I had to do accounting . My brain would freeze. I also experience a tingling feeling on the top on my head and pulsar tinnitus upon rising from a sitting position. There are portions of my memory that are completely gone now. 

I was told that I had a stroke- they could see it in the MRI. My other VA took over and it is working well. I know I was blessed not to have any worse complications. I am glad you have a site where others who have gone through this can learn from eachother. When I had my VAD in 2003, there was very little information available. 

I hope I can give encouragement to someone who may be going through the early stages of recovery. Hang in there and take good care of yourself. It's worth it!

VAD, No Stroke, Spontaneous, F48

Well its nice to know I'm not alone. I have a VAD on the left side. I was diagnosised in January 2009. Never thought I would be 2 months out and no closer to the cause. Either birth defect or collasped interior artery wall. Still having symptoms. I was hospitalized for 3 days. The neuro came in .for the first time the nite I was released and stayed a total of 5 minutes Stated he agreed with the GP that I had a TIA and the MRI, MRA had shown a VAD of the left artery. Strange, all my numbness and other sysmtoms are on the LEFT SIDE also! Neuro stated to follow up with him in 2 weeks. Ha! Can't step on toes in this town. Still waiting for appt. with neuro of choice, Have to have that referral! My family has a history of heart disease. I made me an appt with cardio dr. an got that checked out. No blockages there. Hope I get an appt. soon. Went to the eye M.D. today for my swollen and numb feeling eye. Have some nerve damage. Sorry I got on my soap box. They took my hormones have given me nothing for my mental support. Plavix an aspirin. I take cholestriol medicine now to help my already great numbers. I've never been sick. Always worked out an watched my diet. The not knowing and holding my emotions in check because my family has never seen me down and doesn't want me to be is about to get the best of me. Anyway thanks for the ear and I would love to hear from the person with the "burning pain" up the back of their neck into their head.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F?

Hi Chris.  Just came across your website.  It’s amazing how much material is online now compared to 8 years ago when I had my VAD—there was nothing!  Sharon Stone had it shortly after me and it got in the news, then more info. started appearing about it.  I haven’t been online looking for years so am pleasantly surprised to see there is more out there. 

My neurologist here in Kansas City was a complete dickhead, and didn’t know much about dissections.  So I went to the Mayo Clinic after finding a couple white papers written on VAD by a dr. there.  He gave me totally different advice than my KC neuro, so I’ve chosen to live my life on my own terms.  (one said—go live your life, take no precautions, you have nothing to worry about; the other said—you should avoid any extreme exertion to your body; having a child? make sure it’s a C-section; don’t participate in boot-camp like sports; just don’t exert yourself, etc.)

I recovered fully after my VAD, even though I did have a stroke and lost about 40% of my cerebellum.  All fine (never even had PT—pretty much walked away from it).  My left vertebral artery closed off from the dissection, but the right VA has ‘taken over’ and continues to feed my brain stem.  No problems.  Except when I work out.  Sometimes I get the vision aberration and a small headache when I’m working out hard.  I freaked out a couple times and went to the ER when this happened initially, but my (ridiculous) KC neuro (that I hate) said I’m just having migraines.  Thing is, I never had a migraine in my life until this VAD thing and it was causing mini-strokes, which had symptoms just like migraines.  Hard to swallow that’s a coincidence.  Are they really migraines (and why do I only get these when I work out hard), or is it some after-effect from my VAD 8 years ago (maybe bloodflow is already more restricted to my brainstem and when I work out, it’s even more so and it causes low oxygen to go to my occipital lobe, leading to the vision and neuro symptoms); or is it a new dissection rearing up?  Maybe I don’t want to know.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F53

I am writing this story on behalf of my mother. Last August of 2009, my 53-year old mother and I were out for an 8 mile run one evening. During the run, my mother indicated that her balance seemed to be off but suspected it was related to sinuses. A few hours later, a nightmare would occur that would leave her with symptoms that have affected her life to this day as well as a diagnosis that took 15 months and included 21 tests to determine she suffered from Vertebral Artery Dissection. Here is what happened.

Later that evening almost 3 hours later, my mom had encountered a sudden pain that went directly up her left nostril shooting up her forehead and down the back of her head leaving her with a terrible headache worse than a migraine. She also encountered symptoms of vertigo, numbness in her right leg, constantly blinking in her left eye as well as a slight drupe in her eye.

She immediately contacted our family doctor the next morning. Several tests were performed and all indicated that there was nothing visible wrong with her except the he felt she probably had vertigo. He was slightly puzzled by the other symptoms but did not seem concerned. A few weeks passed, the symptoms persisted forcing her to seek opinions of several neurologists. She was unable to work, drive, and struggled greatly with her balance.

Several tests were conducted by each of the neurologist. Some tests were conducted twice. Our family began to grow increasingly frustrated because no one was able to provide a proper diagnosis. At one point, a neurologist specializing in balancing disorders diagnosis her with that. After seeking several sessions of treatment, the symptoms did not go away except for the vertigo.

At one point, we encountered a neurologist who claimed my mother had conversion disorder and claimed this was all psychologically related. My mother felt hopeless and began to believe that no one would be able to figure out what she experienced that evening. My family including myself always felt strongly that she may have had a stroke and debated several times with the neurologists about this theory. Since the MRI never showed the signs, the doctors believed this did not occur.

Finally in November 2010, we met with a new neurologist who decided to conduct one more test that had never been performed. The test indicated she suffered a stroke and diagnosis her with Vertebral Artery Dissection. The shooting pain she experience showed signs on the test that there was damage to the blood vessel which was a result of the stroke.

My mother has made much progress since the time of the stroke first occurred. Her life has changed dramatically. She is still unable to work, has limitation on driving, struggles with her balance. Her symptoms today still include battling periods of time of feeling fatigue, consistent headaches/migraines, numbness in her left nostril, persistent coldness/numbness in right leg, and periods of blinking occurring. She is on the road to recovery. It is amazing that it took 15 months later, 6 neurologists and 21 tests to figure this out. It was a real life nightmare.

VAD, No Stroke, Spontaneous (but headaches), F35

I am a healthy 35 yr old, wife and mother of 3 children (11, 9, & 4). November 24, 2010, I was diagnosed with a right vertebral artery dissection from c4-c2. I started having right occipital headaches since 2002. I am a sonographer/x-ray tech and consulted with our radiologist who then decided a MRI of the brain needed to be done. The results came back normal. I continued having the right sided headaches which worsened the first of this year. I heard that chiropractic care could help relieve headaches although I was skeptical given some of the patients I had encountered while in the fray field. My supervisor (sonographer) and nurse really spoke highly of what they could do. I started in Feb 2010 with adjustments 3x weekly for 6 weeks, tapering off. I would say the headaches had improved...going from 6days a week to 1-2 days with a headache. One Saturday in Nov I laid on my belly on the bed and placed a pillow underneath my chest. I suddenly had a weird tingling sensation in my head and my whole body just felt weak. I immediately pulled the pillow out from under my chest. I couldn't speak or move. Five minutes later, I came to. The next couple days I just wasn't feeling right. I felt pressure in the back of my head and into the right side of my neck. It wasn't long before I started with vertigo and nausea. I went to the chiropractor that Monday and told him my symptoms. He examined me and my C2 had subluxed. He gave an adjustment and I went home in terrible pain. I couldn't sleep. The next day the vertigo was worse. I went back to the chiropractor on Wednesday because I felt so bad on Tuesday. I saw a different chiropractor in the group and did another adjustment which was not painful. The end of the week went on and the vertigo, pressure and pain was still there. I knew then I needed to see a medical doctor. I went to the urgent care the next Tuesday. The doctor thought this was just vertigo. He did do some tests I think just to please me. An eng and a CT head was done. The EKG was normal and was waiting on the CT results. In the meantime he prescribed antivert and valium for the vertigo. He comes back in and says the CT was not quite normal and they wanted me to have an MRI/MRA Brain/head & neck arteries. The next day I went in for the MRI's. I could hardly stand by this point. My body felt so weak and so much pressure between my ears. My right jaw had started to hurt and burn. I was able to make it through the MRI. Then wheeled straight over to the ED. There my husband and I were told the results.

I was in the hospital for five days over Thanksgiving. On IV HEPARIN and then coumadin. I was told this was not to be taken lightly...this was serious. I was at a great risk for stroke. The neurosurgeon who cared for me in the hospital thought I could be back to work in a week. I had not suffered a stroke which was by God's hand given the chiropractic adjustments twice.

It's been 5 weeks now and I have my good days and bad days. Now I'm hurting on the left side...it's a burning type pain. I hope I haven't dissected the left. Went back to the doctor and had more tests. An x-ray c-spine and an MRI c-spine. No results yet. The pain on the left side is worsening. They did tell me the burning that you feel is the inflammation in the vessels. That would be normal. Dr said take two alleve for 1-2 days. We'll see?! This website has been wonderful...alot of helpful information. I was told i was the third pt in the last several years.. rare.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F34

I'm a 34 year old married mum of two boys. In Feb 2010 I had a stroke leaving me with hemianopia alexia, in other words my left peripheral is gone. On Nov 2010 I suffered another stroke, thankfully no damage was done this time. both of my strokes were from artery dissections in my neck.

Bi-Lat VAD, No Stroke, Spontaneous, M41

I went to work on 9/3/10 like normal. No headaches or dizziness. Around 2:00am(work days & nights) I felt two big pops on the right side and towards the back of my head. I thought oh boy this is going to be a big headache, as sometimes I get them especially when you're working all night with little sleep. Thinking it was just a headache, I went home and went to bed expecting to wake up in a couple of hours without the pain. Well, that was the first thing to wake me up. Went back to work all night the next night and kept taking motrin thinking it was a tension headache. The next day was Labor Day so I spent the day on the couch with ice, heat, asprin, and motrin.

On 9/6/10 I went back on days, and was feeling a little better but my face, neck, and top of my head felt numb. By that evening, I started really feeling sick, throwing up, dizzy, trouble seeing. I told my wife I was going to the hospital in which she came. CAT scan showed nothing, but the Dr. wanted to do a spinal tap which showed blood.

They transferred by ambulance to a neuro hospital where I spent the next 9 days in I.C.U. I.V. of plavix, and a bunch of other drugs I can't remember including morphine and other pain killers. I was in and out for days. 11 days total in the hospital. Then when I got out on a Friday, I started throwing up blood on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday I couldn't move and they called another ambulance for me. I spent another 9 days in the hospital with a what the doctors called a huge ulcer. But that's a different story. So I spent most of Sept. in the hospital.

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Read other Personal Stories of VAD's and share your personal story on the site.



Share your personal story of VAD and/or stroke caused by a VAD.

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.