Thank you for visiting our page. As many of you know Cara and I both welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Connor, into the world on 3/25/2019. We couldn't have been happier and everyone was healthy and happy. Connor is perfect in every way and throughout all of this has been the constant, which has helped make this ordeal slightly (if only) easier. What some may not know is shortly after bringing him home Cara developed severe and painful headaches, so much so that we had to visit the ER on 3/31/2019. She was seen and presented with high blood pressures, along with her headache. Being that she was post-partum they began treating it like post-partum preeclampsia, though she showed no other signs of the disease. They sent us home with blood pressure medication, and told us to monitor things and follow-up with her doctors in a week or so.
Well the headaches, while not as severe, were still present and it never seemed she could control her blood pressure even on the medication. On Thursday 4/4/19 Cara experienced, what I would later learn were TIA symptoms, as she was disoriented, couldn't really speak, and had difficulty performing simple motor functions. In response, because we thought it post-partum pre and after consulting her OB, we went to St. Mary's.
Fast forward to Sunday 4/7/19, after not really seeing any improvements with the headaches or blood pressure fluctuations, we tried to go on a walk. Cara was unable to walk in a straight line and would list to the left and into me. After getting her back to her room I requested that an MRI be run because something didn't seem right. The initial MRI scan came back negative for anything bad, which was good news, but when visited by the Neurologist later that evening to discuss the results she experienced another TIA. They ordered a CT scan, and based on those results she was transferred to the ICU at St. Clare hospital.
The following morning she was taken for a CTA (angiogram), and was afterwards diagnosed with a very rare disorder, Reversible Cerebral Vasoconstriction Syndrome. A disease that has really only been discovered in the last 30 years, and of which very little is known. Apparently, like post-partum pre, it can occur in post-partum mothers for causes that are unknown. The blood vessels in the brain spasm and constrict randomly, causing severe headaches and higher blood pressures, and can lead to more serious things if not treated properly. The nurses/doctors began treatment, but nothing seemed to be doing the trick. That Friday 4/12/19 another angiogram was done, this time with medicine being deployed directly into the vessels. This treatment relaxed a number of the vessels and the headaches, while still present decreased in severity. The follow-up CTA's after the treatment angiogram showed improvement in the blood vessels, showing progress.
After further evaluation and treatment she was discharged on Wednesday 4/17/19, even though she still had relatively bad headaches and some limb discomfort/heaviness. The doctors indicated that was "normal" and would get better over time. We got to spend Easter at home together as a little family which was wonderful, but things still just felt weird to Cara. On Tuesday 4/23/19, after having a strange sensation in her arm we were instructed by her doctor to head back to the ER at St. Clare for another CTA. After seeing the results she was again admitted, as it appeared the spasms and constrictions had made its way down to her carotid artery. On Wednesday 4/24/19 prior to being taken down for another angiogram procedure Cara had another TIA-like episode, but we would later be told that the doctors believed she had had a minor stroke. During the angiogram procedure it was discovered that her carotid artery was severely narrowed in a number of locations and so 3 stents were placed in order to open the passage back up. The procedure was successful, and while the vasospasms are still present the severity of the headaches has been reduced again.
Cara was discharged on Monday 4/29/19 and has been home since. She continues to make slow progress each day even though her right arm and leg occasionally feel weird. The doctors indicated that those sensations will get better over time as her brain continues to heal and that those symptoms can be seen in someone who has had a stroke. Her headaches now are generally around a 4/5, sometimes as low as a 2 which is a significant improvement over the 7/8 that she had been having. Her demeanor is much improved and she seems so much happier. She is slowly getting back to her old self and Connor and I couldn't be happier for this. Full recovery will take time (2 months for the stents to fully heal) and a number of weeks for the spasms to finally stop, but progress is being made and we are taking things on a week to week basis.
We are both so incredibly thankful to our friends and family who have offered prayers, well wishes, brought/bought dinners, cut our grass, have done our laundry, helped me watch Connor so that I could be with Cara as much as possible, and so much else. As we continue on this healing path we know we aren't yet fully out of the woods, but we can start to see the opening. We also know that things could have gotten much worse if not for a proper diagnosis and we owe so much to our wonderful nurses and doctors who cared for Cara (and me by extension). I will provide updates as we get them, but we are so grateful to everyone for your continued support, prayers, and well wishes and are very looking forward to getting back to normal.