Vertebral Artery Dissection

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Personal VAD & Stroke Stories - Page 5

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.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, M37

On 'Feb. 1rst 2010 I woke up for work. I leaned over to shut of my alarm and has a dizzy spell, very weird one!! Then continued to get up and I got so dizzy that it felt lick a tractor beam sucking me to the floor. I laid on the floor vomiting for about two hours. Got up an hour later and went to a med express. There they told me I had vertigo,  gave me zofran for nausea and some other medicine for dizziness.

That was Friday, I could not lay down because I would spin out of control, scared of that feeling like dying! So I laid upright Saturday and Sunday. Monday I went back to work, I am a construction worker so this really sucked!! Went to work on Tuesday, same thing, bad day! Wednesday morning I just couldn't do it, felt like walking death. So I had my wife come get me and take me to the regional medical center in flint mi. A quick cat scan in ER revealed a spot on my cerebellum. That really scared me!! They did an MRI-MRA with contrast and found a vertebral dissection that passed a clot to my brain.

They said I had a flap dangling in my artery and the flow was turbulent. They started me on IV heperin, then got my coumadin levels theraputic. I was released taking coumadin for six months, then an aspirin a day for the rest of my days. I had bad dizziness for a month and a half afterwards, but was back to work the day after I was released.

I was supposed to switch professions and not go back to work for two months, but I own my own business and I guess to me losing everything would be worse than death. I started jogging two and a half months after, this really helped me feel better!! It was what snapped me out of it I think. Since I do p-90x, went to 12,000 feet elk hunting, and I am more active than before the stroke.

But it will always be in the back of mind!! I do not jump up out of bed ever!! I do not crack my neck, I still have small dizzy spells. If I sit around for a day or two it makes me very dizzy and don't feel good. So I do not rest other than when I sleep, whether or not that will ever change for me I don't know, just glad to be here!! Also was relieving to read of others who have dealt with this and kept going. All I can say is don't lay down, do not accept defeat and push yourself to recover (within your doctors limits of course). Good luck to you all!

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous (after car accident), F30

I was involved in a serious car accident in September of this year. Two days after the accident I had a sudden onset of an extreme left-side headache and right-side neck pain. Assuming it was "just" whiplash, I toughed it out for a couple of days. On the third day the pain was unbearable and I went to see my doctor. She ordered a CT scan and neck x-rays which didn't show any major problems. She prescribed percocet and sent me on my way.

Four days later I asked my husband to massage my still-sore neck. Two minutes later the right side of my face fell and I lost feeling in my left arm. I headed straight to the hospital and the doctors immediately suspected the cause of the problems (I am lucky to live right in the city of Pittsburgh near world-class hospitals and physicians). I was put on heparin and sent for another CT scan, this time with dye-contrast, which revealed my dissection. I was transferred to another hospital with a more specialized stroke team and was advised formally for the first time that I was having a stroke.

As the night went on I eventually lost the ability to swallow and all of the feeling on the left side of my body. Finally I experienced an intense burning on my left side and my symptoms began to dissipate. It was later described to me as my brain releasing my body back. A very strange sensation. I was very fortunate to suffer very few deficits short of some muddy thinking for a couple of weeks and an eye which I can still see drooping, although no one else seems to be able to see it.

Three months later I am still on coumadin, and still tire easily. I also feel the weight of all of this on my shoulders, some days more than others, and a bit of lingering sadness. I am the mother of two little girls, and feel so fortunate to still be here and functional for them. I have a business that I have loved running but that takes a great deal of energy to run, and am considering selling it so that I can take a step back and take the time I need to rest and heal. Life certainly sent me a curveball when that car ran into mine.

Bi-Lateral VAD, Spontaneous (after chiropractor visit), F37

My symptoms began showing up Thursday after a visit to the chiropractor for a stiff neck. I started to have a really bad headache after the treatment that continued to get worse through the next couple of days. By Saturday I was experiencing terrible headaches and weird sensations on the brain that were so severe by Sunday morning my husband took me to the ER.

We found out after a CT scan and MRI that I had a vertebral artery dissection in my right artery and was immediately checked into the hospital and began blood thinner treatment. I was told I was at high risk for having a stroke. It was discovered on Tuesday 1/25 after another CT scan that I a had dissections in my left artery, which significantly upped the risk even more of a stroke, so I was immediately moved down to the ICU for close monitoring.

Three days in ICU and more CT scans proved nothing else had changed and in my state that was the most positive sign. Last Friday I moved back to the Neuro Unit and started cou madin treatment and was released on Monday of this week 1/31.

I will be on treatment for 6 months and closely monitored with CT scans periodically. It has been one scary roller coaster and an interesting start to a new year. My neurologist said to me as I was getting ready to leave the hospital, "You dodged a bullet". I am very lucky and thank my angels above for guarding me.

 One more thing to point out...As I was going through all of this I was having spontaneous hiccups. I didn't find out to till later from my neurologist that it was a sign of stroke...I feel that everything was timing...I am so incredibly blessed

VAD, Spontaneous, F37

I am a 37 yo female...very healthy, active woman. I accidentally swallowed some hydrogen peroxide one day a few months ago. (I had been gargling with it b/c of an irritated throat. I forgot it was in the water and began drinking it.) I wasn't sure how toxic HP is so I made myself throw up--this was rather violent since my body was resisting it. Immediately after vomiting, I developed a migraine aura and migraine. Although I have a history of migraines, this was the worst one I can remember in my whole life. It lasted about 4 hours and then was tolerable. The next day I felt fine, but the day after that I developed a really bad neck pain and throbbing in the back of my neck where the trap muscles attach to the head--especially bad throbbing upon standing. I have a license in massage therapy and so I tried the usual cold/hot and massage treatments. Nothing seemed to help.

This pain went on for at least 10 days so I went to a chiropracter to see if something had gone out of alignment when I vomited. I had also been noticing a strange vertigo sensation when I would touch my left ear to my left shoulder while rotating my head to the right a little. (like you would do if brushing your hair on the left side). When the chiropracter tested me by turning my head that way and turning my head, he reproduced the vertigo. In my case, the chiropracter may have saved me as opposed to being the cause of my condition since he immediately said he felt that there was an artery issue. We both agreed that a neck adjustment would not be wise. He ordered an MRA. The MRA showed possible dissection but the doctors wanted a CT angiogram to see it better. That scan showed the same. The doctors do not think that the vomiting caused the VAD...they believe it is a result of some trauma in my past. I'm not totally convinced since that is when all of my symptoms started. However, I suppose it could have already been vulnerable and the vomiting was the straw that broke the camel's back. I had a car accident 10 yrs ago and have had some chiro adjustments around that same time but nothing recent.

My neurologist put me on aspirin 325 mg every day and said to come see him in 6 mos. He said to be conservative with my neck and activities. But this seems so subjective. I feel I have so many unanswered questions. The threat of a stroke does not seem to be huge since my dissection is just causing my right artery to be "skinnier" than the left but still, I have a constant fear of it getting worse, etc and possibly leading to a stroke. I am not too happy about taking aspirin every day since I already have a stomach prone to acid reflux...but I guess I have no choice.

I am happy for this site and hope that together, we can all help each other learn how to deal with this condition. The bottom line is, we still have to find a way to enjoy life and live in the moment. We may have VAD but anything can take anyone at any time. I am trying to take this awareness of a physical vulnerability and use it as a positive and better cherish every day of my life.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F48

I was 31 and had an 6 month old sleeping in her crib and a 2 year old playing in the family room. I was about to mop the kitchen floor when it felt like someone had an axe and hit the back of my neck, full force. I struggled to open the window to get air but then my right side went numb. I grabbed the phone and called 911, then I called a neighbor who came over to care for my children.

I was holding my right arm with my left hand as it was so heavy and I could hardly move it. My legs were both OK and I had no facial drop. The EMT thought I was faking it and didn't want to take me to the hospital. I insisted. Since I could walk into the hospital, many nurses (and I am one!) did not take me seriously! My arm was weak but I had no visible signs of any problem but a throbbing headache. They did CT scans of my HEAD and an MRI of the HEAD. They did the arm drop test and I failed. The MDs in the Er put me on a step down unit for the night. Family MD came the next day referred me to a neurologist who had the worst bedside manner in the world. It was diagnosed a "panic attack." I had an appt. to follow up with the same neurologist who did not show up. (the same one) I went to work that weekend and put myself on aspirin, 4-6 a day, still knowing something was wrong. I decided to call Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. I worked there for many years and knew first hand they were very good. Well, they were very very good. Arteriogram later and diagnosis = vertebral artery dissection. IV Heparin for a week, coumadin for about a year with periodic MRIs to make sure the artery was repairing itself. Now, I'm on 81mg aspirin a day with no residual effects. The MDs at Jefferson said I was very lucky!! The aspirin that weekend was the right thing to do and not giving up when I knew something was wrong was the way to go. Brandywine Hospital in Coatesville was the WORST in neurology care at that time. Although their OB nurses delivered my 3rd baby (after this VAD) with grace and expertise. I am now 48.

VAD, "Silent Stroke", Spontaneous (possible neck injury), F49

Hi, in mid Feb 2011 I started with a REALLY terrible headache, vertigo, vision blurry and a lot of confusion, and my heartbeat banging in my left ear drum. I actually called my Cardiologist's office to report this, thinking that maybe it was my leaking Valves that was causing this, and they were thinking of doing an Event Monitor (this was on a Friday), I suffered through the headache, woke up on Sat. morning with left arm and hand COMPLETELY numb, which I thought was odd.

I have "Osteophyte symdrome" by MRI's, from an old auto accident 14 years ago, so was thinking that this was due to my neck?, Anyway; I went to work that day, still terrible headache, terrible vertigo, and then I felt the left side of my face droop. I ran to a friend there who has already had a Stroke, and she said run to the ER NOW!!

So, I got home, got my 23 yo daughter to take me. There I went through the normal ER testing for possible Stroke, they did a CT and saw nothing, so then did a Spinal tap, to look for blood in my spinal fluid. I was then admitted and left basically for the entire night, with nothing else for pain. Immediately upon being admitted, I asked for my Pain Management Physician, and my Cardiologist. What the ER Doc did next just threw me for a loop! They called an old Primary care doc, that I had not used for over 6 years!! He asked me about him 3 different times in the ER, and I asked them NOT to call him, I did not care for him, and DID NOT want to use him, but, did want my Cardiologist and Pain Management Doc.

Anyway, the next morning around 11:00 am, the old Primary comes to see me, immediately profiled me (I feel), and says "Well I see you go to pain management, so I will not be prescribing you anything". My response was, well I did not ask you to. He then sent in a Neuro Doc, who said "Hum, well what's wrong here with the left side of your face", he could see my left eye and mouth droop. He then said well, you do need an MRI/MRA, but we don't do these on weekends!! Can you imagine that? This was a Sunday, so, as confused as I still was, I told him that because I had been having some of these symptoms the prior week, I actually already made my own appointment with a Neurologist, who was referred to me by a friend at work. He knew who this Neurologist was, and thought then that it would be fine for me to leave the hospital, and f/u with that Dr. By the way, that appointment with the new Neurologist, was not until 3/3, and this was the weekend of 2/19.

Anyway, what happened next was just absurd, the Old Primary Doc walks in, tells the nurse "Well she told Dr. X, that she wants to leave, so she will be leaving against advice"!!! I said, wait a minute, that is not what I asked for!! I asked the Neuro if he really felt that I needed to be there, given that they did not do MRI/MRA on the weekend, and he thought it would be fine for me to go home. He left the room and never came back!! Anyway, that's Sunday, went home still with a horrible headache, vertigo, sight blurred and banging in my Left ear.

Then Monday, amazingly I went to work, and the whole day feeling like my brain would fall out in chunks if I moved at all. Around 3:30 (by the way, I was in at 6:15 am this day), my supervisor told me that I better go ahead home. On the way home I got SEVERELY nauseated and thought I might get sick in my car, but proceeded home. The only thing that I knew to try next, was to call my Pain Management Doc. I received a call back after hours from my Doc's PA, who is absolutely wonderful!!, and after an only 5 minute call with me, told me to go lay down as FLAT AS I COULD, and stay that way!

Get to their office upon opening in the AM, and tell them that he said to get you in immediately, that you need a blood patch!! Well, I got the blood patch, and they were thinking the same thing, that the Spinal tap that I had in the hospital, created a Cerebrospinal Fluid leak, causing a TERRIBLE spinal headache. Went home from that, and for the next few days, although the TERRIBLE Spinal headache was gone, still had a pretty severe headache, dizziness, thoughts jumbled and confused.

So, I finally made it to the new Neuro guy on 3/3, who immediately ordered a STAT MRI/MRI, and diagnosed 4 "silent strokes", and a VAD on the Left. I do smoke for 30 years, so of course he tells me that it "can come from this", let alone the fact that my 4 sisters and my brother, all have High Cholesterol, HEREDITARY! I am 5 ft 1 inch, 107 pound female, however run Cholesterol in the 200's, and am on two Statins. Anyway, he immediately put me on Plavix, which I have now been on for a couple of weeks, told me not to make any sudden head or neck movements, and not to lift more than 10 pounds. Just yesterday, I started again with a terrible pain in my neck, and now have very much a Left sided headache, pain in my left eye.

So, will be calling the Neuro guy, as soon as his office opens. Even this Neurologist, seems to be discounting my continued symptoms, Numbing of my left hand, and when the feeling does come back, the left thumb stays numb most of the time. He is actually sending me for a Balance procedure that they do for Inner ear, next week, for the Vertigo! I don't know if that is going to make the situation worse or not? So, I think that the moral of my story is, I am not sure whether on the weekend of 2/19, did I have a "Spontaneous Cerebrospinal Fluid leak".,2).a VAD, or BOTH?? Did one cause the other? Or, could this have been the VAD, and the ER and hospital, completely missed both???

I am a Medical Underwriter by trade X 30 years, so understand the MRI's, MRA's etc., that I am requesting copies of. I am not so sure that these Doctors understand VAD, or have done enough research on it??? I feel very much like my symptoms are being discounted, and I am being ignored. I intend to call his office this am, and tell him about the new symptoms, let's see w hat happens now!

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F28

I had a VAD in January of 2008. I did see a chiropractor in the fall of 2007 because I was experiencing severe neck pain, and it got worse over time. From Oct.31(my first chiropractic appt.) through Jan. 2008 I began to experience sudden and severe head rushes where I would have to brace my self or grab on to something stable.

Jan 18th 2008 I left school early from a severe headache. Jan. 21st I woke at 10:05 am to a pop sound in my head followed by an intense migraine, kicked the sheets off and tried to get up and walk, but felt my right side of my body leaving me. I called my mom and she came and took me to my primary care physicians office, where by this time it was probably 10:30 and I could not walk into the office.

They said to get me to the ER immediately. By the time we got there I remember waiting in the triage area for a bit, but do not remember how they got me into bed. By this time it was after 11am and I had developed nystagmus to where I could not see straight at all. I kept my eyes shut other wise I would vomit. The conducted one CT scan, one CT angio, and an MRI to confirm that I had a stroke caused by a Vertebral Artery Dissection.

I was in intensive care for 4 days, and then transferred to Borgess Neuro Rehab in Kalamazoo, MI. I spent almost two weeks there learning to walk again, use my limbs, work on strengthening my eye sight, and with in two weeks I had gone from not being able to walk or see straight to being able to walk with a cane.

Over the course of about 4-6 months I slowly gained back my normal eyesight. It has been three years since it happened, and I have been dealing with depression and anxiety--which is much better these day's: with the help of a Neurologist, Psychologist, and a Psychiatrist.

God, Family, and Friends, have been my saving grace. Needless to say I am thankful to be alive, and thank God everyday. I wrote this in hopes of being able to educate and inform people about this, and that you are not alone. Never stop educating yourself, but more importantly, LIVE YOUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST!!! Love Love Love, and God Bless.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, F62

Like so many others, I am so relieved to have found your site. I am a 62 year old fairly healthy, slim and active (well I was) British woman living in England. I now know that around 8/3/2011 I had a posterior circulation stroke secondary to a VAD (Left) which like many other people, was not diagnosed until my 6 day in hospital when I had begged the consultant for an MRI.

British medicine, paid for out of our salaries (the NHS is not free as so many people think. Working Brits pay 6% of their salaries for this)is cautious and they don't automatically do all the range of scans etc that the USA does.

A CT scan had failed to show the symptoms. My own Dr and a friend who is a general Dr have not heard of VADs (nor had the consultant of the Pain Clinic at my local hospital!!!). My symptoms were neck pain (which I attributed to whiplash from a bad car crash one year previously - my 3rd whiplash in my life) but the Stroke unit doctors thought that was too long ago. The pain then went up to the left side of my head, I felt acutely sick and vomited. Taking over-the-counter pain killers dulled it.

Five days later, after a particularly strong bout of pain during which I want to drill a hole in my skull to relieve the pressure, I lost the use of my left hand. My own doctor decided to play safe and send me into hospital but they were baffled. The next day all my left side went numb and although I could walk, I swayed to the left. It was a further four days before I could persuade them to give me (the expensive) MRI scan.

Friends in the know say this type of stroke is confined to young people and there is so little info. I can use my left hand about 50% capacity but cannot feel the tips and my L side is still 50% numb and both constantly uncomfortable. In the UK all stroke sufferers are banned from driving for at least a month. I am taking Aspirin and Co-codamol for the persistent slight head ache.

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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.