Kathy Maxwell

First post: Jun 28, 2013 Latest post: Aug 24, 2017

This is copies from the letter my huband posted on facebook.  It explains a lot.
There is no easy way to say this so I’ll just jump right in. Please forgive the wandering story line to this missive. I’m a little off my game which you will soon understand. This past Friday (6/7) my wife was diagnosed with a brain aneurism (or maybe he said embolism, as long as he knows the difference we’re good). Actually the real condition is preceded by a number of 14 syllable words and medic...al speak with words like bilateral and type 3 thrown in for good measure. By the way, that scale is from 0-3 and we are on the wrong end.

Now before I go any further, overall she feels fine except for the “migraine” she’s had for the past couple of months which makes her feel nauseas most of the time. She is in great spirits and aside from needing lots of rest and limited physical exertion she can still do everything she’s always been able to do. And, the prognosis overall is pretty good although she’s going to have to deal with multiple procedures to fix the problem. So, in the big scheme of things we should be alright when this is over. It’s just that the next month or so will be difficult.

Which brings me to the point of writing this letter. I’m not looking for a bunch of condolences and well wishes. In fact, I probably won’t be spending much time on Face Book or checking my email and I definitely won’t have time to read through all the good wishes or respond individually. A simple “like” of this page will let me know that you are thinking of us, which, if you are reading this you are by definition thinking of us. And it is all appreciated. The main reasons I’m posting are 1) so that I don’t have to repeat the details over and over and 2) to let you all know why I won’t be responding to any messages.

For those interested, here’s a little background. Back in March, Kathy started experiencing a migraine headache, something she has never had to deal with before. Over the next few months she saw her OB/GYN, GP, two urgent care doctors, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a cranialsacral something or other, a couple of specialists, and I think a psychologist. None of the meds she received helped much for the pain. Sleep, quite, and darkness were about the only relief and since we have two boys’ ages 8 and 10 that whole “quite” thing is hard to come by. So eventually they ran a CAT scan which found nothing wrong, a series of head and neck x-rays (same result), and finally, this past Wednesday morning (6/5) they ran her through the MRI. Early afternoon she got a call from her doctor saying a specialist wanted to see her immediately and by four o’clock the next afternoon we were sitting in a small, unusually warm examination room with little to no fresh air circulation. I point that out because, that’s just wrong. If you are going to get bad news it should be in a comfortable room at least. (Joking is my coping mechanism, so bear with me).

So anyway, this doctor, who by the way is younger than we are, which is a slightly scary thought, tells us VERY BLUNTLY I must add, what he thinks is going on and that we need to schedule an angiogram ASAP to confirm the diagnoses one way or the other. At 7:00 the next morning she went in and at about 9:00 we were told the bad news.

By the way, when a doctor tells you your wife is brain damaged it’s not quite as funny as you might think. And if you happen to think, “Well I knew that, I’ve lived with her for 14 years” that’s okay. Just don’t say it out loud. %^)

The good news, and it is good, is that now they know what the problem is and they know how to fix it. So, over the next few weeks, one or two times each week they will be performing procedures to fix the problem. After each session, depending on how much they get done we will reassess. If that doesn’t do the job then, as a last resort they will need to perform open surgery which I don’t even want to think about. Yes I’m a coward when it comes to medical stuff. I mentioned that hot stale examination room before. I thought I was going to pass out and wasn’t sure if it was the room or just my general wimpiness. If anyone asks, we’ll just assume the former.

Other good news is that I work for a great company and I have plenty of sick-leave saved up so I’ll be able to take time off. The insurance we have is pretty top notch too so at least we won’t have to worry too much about that and we can concentrate on the important business of getting Kathy back to normal, although, if anyone wants to voluntarily pay a bill or two we won’t stop you. %^)

Now for the gruesome details for those who like that sort of thing. Those faint of heart should turn away now. For those like me who haven’t taken a biology class since high school, here’s an overly simplified description of what is going on in my wife’s head right now. (Insert own joke here).

Veins take blood from the heart to the different organs, in this case, the brain. In order to get the blood there, the heart has to pump it pretty forcefully which builds up pressure in the veins. We call this “blood pressure”. When it gets to the brain it drops off all the good stuff (O2 and nutrients) and picks up the bad stuff (waste products on their way to the kidneys or liver or whatever). But, it isn’t being “pumped” out of the brain. It just sorta moves along because it’s a closed loop system. So the blood pressure in your arteries is much lower than your veins. Nature, not wanting to waste energy or resources, makes the veins stronger and thicker than the arteries. Now, if the blood flow from the veins to arteries bypasses the organ tissue, you get pressurized blood in the thin, weak arteries. Not designed for this they tend to stretch and expand like a balloon (aneurism). And that’s what’s going on in Kathy’s head. For some reason, and we do have our theories, the veins formed shortcut connections directly to the arteries. There’s more to it than that but you can wiki as well as I can. Try “Dural arteriovenous fistula”.

So, the doctor will need to perform an angiogram and basically, I kid you not, shoot a bunch of super glue like material into those unwanted connections. For those unclear, an angiogram is where they feed a wire-like device up through the femoral artery, through the heart and up to the brain. It was at this point in the discussion that I started to feel faint back in the examination room. There was absolutely no preamble with this doctor, just “blood this” and “hemorrhage that”.

Anyway, here are some other excerpts from that wonderful discussion. Had the problem been only a type 1, they probably could have treated it without all the talk of surgeries and stuff. Had they not caught it, or had we decided not to undertake their suggested course of action there was a 30% chance that the embolism would rupture and hemorrhage into her brain over the course of the next year. I was feeling a bit week at this point in the conversation too. I think I propped the door open to cover for it.

So, if you’ve read this far (and haven’t passed out) I suggest you go give your significant other a big hug and tell them you love them. Take nothing for granted, folks!

I’ll post again WHEN this is all behind us.

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