Vertebral Artery Dissection

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Personal VAD & Stroke Stories  - Page 1

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.

FORUM:  Visit the new VAD Chat Forum (started 11/21/09) to discuss VAD, ask questions, and help others.

Read more personal VAD stories :  Go to Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Please share your personal story on the site.

The personal stories are in no particular order and I have purposely removed names or personal information.

VAD, 4 Strokes, Chiropractor-Linked, F29

I suffered a vertebral artery dissection as well as 4 strokes in December. I have been trying to do research as well and have really learned from your site. My Neuro dr said he only sees about one dissection a year. It was very hard for them to diagnose and treat. I was on coumadin therapy for three months and it has healed. I have to be on aspirin every day as there is a bump of scar tissue in the artery now. My dissection was due to a chiropractic adjustment and I suffered a stroke in the office.

I really appreciate knowing that I am not the only one out there like me. I have never felt more like a specimen than when I was in the hospital and everyone was coming to see the 29 year old stroke patient. I had dr's just "dropping by" to see how I was doing. I can't tell you how many cardiologists were in there since they were talking about putting a stint in the artery.

VAD, Stroke, Spontaneous, Age M41

I had a VAD which lead to a stroke 3 years ago.  I was 41.  I had no warning, no prior symptoms, or any trauma of any kind.  I was walking through Walmart and suddenly I could not walk - everything was spinning and I felt like someone was pushing and pulling me down to the right.  There was a terrible pain in the back of my head on the right side and I felt like I was going to throw up at any moment. 

The paramedics came to get me and advised me to NOT go to the hospital.  They said it just sounded like vertigo and it would go away.  I kept asking about the nausea and the severe pain in my head and neck, but they said that it was probably just the situation and my nerves.  My vitals seemed with normal to high range, but nothing they seemed to be alarmed about.

That was on a Monday.  It was Wednesday evening when it was revealed that I had had a VAD and a small stroke.  No one really understood too much about them.  The neurologist I saw said that he only had seen 3 before me.
I still have an anxiety problem, balance issue, migraines and neck pain.

Bi-Lat VAD, Chiropractor-linked, F38

I returned from the hospital on friday after suffering a bilateral vertebral artery dissection via a chiropractic manipulation.  I am going through a barrage of emotions and don't know where to go with them.  I am a 38 year old mother of 3 boys ( ages 6, 4 and 1), so I have a lot of work to do, but can't do any of it.

I am wondering if you have any suggestions for recovery.  Diet or keeping a positive attitude.  I am on Coumadin and can't eat the very stuff that would help my arteries recover (vitamin K) for 6 months.  My doctor says the first 4 weeks are the most important, but they also seem to be the hardest, figuring out that I really CAN'T do like pick up my one year old who had his first birthday while I was in the hospital.

They really gave me limited directions of what to do to help these arteries heal, other than don't do anything to put pressure on those arteries.   Even crying puts pressure on those arteries

VAD, Spontaneous, F35

I suffered a VAD January 25, 08 and wanted to let you know that my family was very pleased with the information you shared on your site. We referred to it often and found it very informative.

I am however one of the lucky ones to have gone into emergency with a severe headache and neck pain that was unbearable. I was fortunate enough to have a doctor on call that was suspicious of this and sent me for a CT immediately and there they knew exactly what was happening to me, 6 weeks later I was released from hospital with strict orders of bed rest only. I am still unable to work and the doctors are watching me closely because there is now a Aneurysm close to the dissection site. It is amazing to think Jan 19 – 24 I was enjoying my life and was on a vacation in Vegas and who would ever guess I would be on my death bed the next week saying good bye to my 3 children ages 17,16 & 14. They had called in my family because they thought it was bleeding in my brain but could not do a Lombard Puncture till my Heparin level was safe. What a nightmare and I am not ready to go down that road again anytime soon.

Well I won’t ramble on I just again wanted to say thank you for sharing your experience. It made me feel better knowing I was not alone in this fight.

VAD, Spontaneous, F34

I live in Belgium and I will be 34 next week. Three weeks ago, I had an MR scan and I was diagnosed to have Vertebral Artery Dissection on the right side. Reason until now unknown. Maybe my car accident of spontanuous?? I do not smoke or drink alcohol. My blood pressure is not too heigh.
 
There will follow some MR's of the brains and kidneys in July. I had a terrible car accident in 1995 (two people died in it): I had a whiplash, a concussion and some other injuries. Over the years, I always kept complaining about headaches and migraine. I had many scans, but everything was always normal. The migraine became worse, in april 2006 I had a facial paralysis at my right side. I was hospitalised for three days. After that, I often had (every 2 or 3 months) migraine with aura (sight problems before having the migraine). A month ago, the migraine was again accompagnied with facial paralysis and weakness of the right side of my body. That was the reason why the MR took place.
 
The doctor say very little, just that the situation is serious and it's not possible to operate it. But what is serious, can I live with this? Can I die from it? I have two little kids and I'm afraid to death about this situation now.

VAD, Stroke, Poss Chiro Link, M39

My 39 year old husband had a VAD the first week of April that caused a full blown stroke.  It was misdiagnosed at first as a migraine and he was not treated properly for days.  He was finally airlifted to a major trauma center in Seattle where he was in ICU for a week and had a "brain drain" due to the swelling.  I believe there is a link between the chiropractic manual neck adjustment he received and the VAD.

VAD, Trampoline Accident, F52

I had a VAD on Feb22 08.  A trampolene accident gone bad back in august. Fell on my head doing back flips.  In Feb I was life flighted to the Illinois Stroke Clinic.  ICU for 7 days and I walked out on my own accord.  They tell me I am a miracle.  Just had my meds changed and was doing some research and found this site.
I have no after effects, except I am more forgettful and I now studder.

Bilat VAD, Chiro-Linked, F41

At the age of 41, I was experiencing frequent migrane-type headaches and had been employing a chiropractor to help me relieve them. The chiropractor would do neck manipulations, which seemed to help. She seemed very educated and very caring and gentle. Ten days after a manipulation, I was out playing catch with my then, five year old son, in the backyard. Suddenly, I could not control my right hand and became dizzy saw things spinning around in a circular pattern. I went to open the backdoor to go inside and saw in my reflection that I was leaning to one side. The idea of a stroke was so far-fetched to me, that I assumed I must have a pinched nerve or something. When the symptoms did not subside, and I realized I probably should not drive, I called an ambulance so that I could be checked out by a doctor. What followed was a complete nightmare.
I was taken by ambulance to the local hospital emergency room. After examining me and speaking with me, a neurologist was called in to evaluate me. After speaking with me and seeing my symptoms, her exact words were "frankly, I'm stumped".  She ordered a CAT scan and admitted me for the night. The cat scan showed no injury or concerns and I was left for the night in a room with another patient. I still could not stand straight or use my hand to eat.

I was basically treated as a mental case. The nurses were very inattentive and sharp with me. In the middle of the night, I felt a "hot spark" run through my neck and into my head. I vomited immediately afterward. Now, I was frightened. The thought of a blood clot finally occurred to me and I was afraid to sit up, lest the clot release and go to my heart. I laid as still as possible and called in a nurse. She cleaned me up, but when I told her I was concerned that I may have a blood clot and that maybe they should send a doctor, she told me that I "was fine" and they would send a doctor in the morning. I spent the rest of the night terrified - feverously praying and laying as still as possible.The next morning, I felt slightly better and forced myself to take a walk down the hall. I felt unusually tired and weak and still struggled to stay straight and take steps. I waited in my room until 3:00 in the afternoon to see a doctor and still, no one came.
At 4pm, the neurologist who had attended to me in the emergency room showed up with my dismissal papers. She told me that I was fine and that, although one of my vertebral arteries looked a little smaller than the other, that wasn't unusual and it could cause some neck pain. She then told me to go home and to call my regular doctor to make a follow up appointment.
...By then, my husband had called his parents. His father happened to have connections with the University of Illinois hospital and made some phone calls. On the second day I was home, I was contacted by the head of neurosurgery. He asked my some questions about what had happened and then said, "I don't want to scare you, but it is very important you come down here (an hour away) immediately to see me. You need to have someone else drive you and you need to bring an overnight bag. I will stay here after hours in order to see you."
He did a physical evaluation and then sent me to have an MRI done. He then admitted me into the hospital. 
The MRI's showed vertebral artery dissections on both sides of the neck. The doctor felt it was most likely caused by the trip to the chiropractor and said that he had seen a number of other VAD's caused by chiropractic manipulations to the neck. I was put on IV blood thinners in the hospital for three days and then was allowed to go home if I agreed to give myself heparin shots for the next two weeks. After that, I took cumadin for about a year, and now I am on daily aspirin...
I am now 46 and feel strong and healthy, but I continue to be extremely concerned about people going to chiropractors for neck manipulations. Chiropractors do not take into consideration the possiblility of people having hyperextention and thus, putting their vertebral arteries under extreme stress and tearing them during manipulation.

Bilat VAD, Spontaneous, F36

I'm a 36 year old female who just had Spontaneous (they think) Bilateral Vertebral Artery Dissection w Pseudo Aneurysm w 70% blockage. I was lucky that I did not have a stroke. I found my road to a diagnosis a painful and frustrating experience that has questioned my confidence in physicians and at times, myself.

I saw three Emergency Room docs and two private physicians, over a very painful week, who all said I was having a Migraine.
Really?  One that lasted a week?  With no history of Migraines? Oooookkkkkkkk. Finally, a friend who is a family doctor referred me to a friend of his who was a Neurologist (who just happened to be on call that night at the biggest Trauma ER here).

The Neuro guy ordered an Angiogram w contrast, after IV caffeine and a blood patch didn't help (still chasing that Migraine?), and voila! They finally found the needle in the haystack, so to speak. I got transported to a specialty Neuro hospital where I stayed for 5 days in the ICU, 10 days total while they waited to see if I needed surgery.

I'm back home now, on routine meds for VAD people and following their conservative approach for treatment for me.  But I'm frustrated and scared at the lack of info out there and with my physicians lack of answers for what happens next.

VAD, Stroke, Neck Cracking?, M42

Hi Chris, I would just like to take the time to compliment you on your website. I suffered a stroke in November last year while playing hockey. I am 43 years old (42 at the time) and was in above average condition for my age. I was very active and exercised regularly. I had a physical examination with my doctor six weeks before and everything  was normal. I had a hard time believing what was happening when it happened. It began with some dizziness which I thought was not entirely abnormal, I thought perhaps I was overexerting myself. I skated off the ice to the bench.

The dizziness became more severe and my vision started to blur. My teammates noticed I did not look well and one went for an ambulance. I then lost my balance and my ability to speak. One of my friends had to hold me from falling over. I couldn't swallow and both arms began to go numb. I was taken to a nearby stroke center where they immediately took me to the CT scanner.
 
The neurologist arrived a while later and his first words to me were: "I don't know why you are here, the CT scan showed nothing. Your blood pressure and cholesterol is normal" The next day, they did an MRI scan which did show an infarction of the Cerebellum. Given my age, lack of family and medical history and the fact I was in good shape, they ran a battery of tests to determine the cause. After a week of testing, they confirmed a VAD causing a stroke.
 
I was not able to walk unassisted for over a week. I regained my eyesight within 36 hours and my speech came back while still in Emergency. I took 3 months off work and was told to not exert myself for another three months. It has now been 8 months. I don't feel too bad but I do get tired a lot easier than I used to. When I get over tired my head starts to spin. I am back riding bicycle but cannot go as long as I used to, even though I am getting stronger a little bit at a time. I am still afraid to go back to the mountain bike riding I so loved.
 
I used to have a bad habit of cracking my neck whenever I would get tense. I had been under a lot of personal stress in the months leading up to the stroke and had been manipulating my neck much more frequently. Once or twice I momentarily blacked out when cracking my neck. The doctors had thought it had been hockey related until I explained what I had been doing. I couldn't recall any collisions or falls that would have hurt my neck when playing hockey.
 
It has taken me this long to be able to accept that every time I don't feel well or when I get a bit of vertigo  that I am not having another stroke. I am hoping that sharing this with you can help you help others who have suffered this. I realize that I am very lucky and maybe being previously healthy may have played a role in my survival. I also believe that having a very positive attitude can play a major role in your recovery. I have never been seriously ill or injured before in my life and having this happen brought out a will in myself that I never knew existed. I am from Ontario, Canada.

Bilat VAD, Chiro-Linked, F25

I have vertebral artery dissection bilterally (both sides of my neck).  Thank you so much for making your website, I thought I was one of very few who has this, but I guess not.

I found out I have VAD on Sept.19 of the year (yes, literally about 2 weeks ago now). It was the scariest time of my life, and still is. I was experiencing severe migraines and vertigo (dizziness), with some vision changes for about 2-6 weeks (dizziness starting around the 2 week mark). Then I was advised to see the neurologist. From there it went down hill. I had my MRI/MRA  & MRV scheduled on the 18th of this month (Sept.). The results weren't to good. I was called at about 12 noon the next day, and was told to get to the nearest emergency room to be transported to  a Boston Hospital for treatment. While I was waiting for my husband to get home to take my 7 week old daughter I spoke to the doctor. The only thing I heard was anuyerism (if that's how you spell it). right then i knew, but not really. It seemed like a great trip to go to the hospital, but I didn't really know the extent of my problem until I got there.

When I got to the hospital, the nurse assigned to me started to go nuts, screaming that I needed monitors and tests. right then i realized that I was in a bad situation. Then it was all explained to me. If I do not get treated right away, I could have a stroke! I completely flipped! I am only 25 years old, this should not happen.

I was placed in the trauma ICU with people who had strokes, heart attacks, and brain surgery. This was not cool at all. Once I told then about my symptoms and what doctors I have seen, I almost fell to the floor. When they ever told me that this wasn't the first time that someone who has seen the chiropractor, had this problem. I was in shock. The nurse and doctor saw no other reason why i would have got this sever problem. I was in the hospital from the 19th to the 24th, without seeing my three little girls. I was giving blood every 4-6 hours, and being told to do funny things like spell and wiggle my tongue and toes. Then I realized I stutter, especially when they asked me to identify a hammock. 

I am home now, but it's not easy. I have to be alert to bleeding problems, falling, pain, and stroke. I am on coumadin and lovenox (anticoagulant injections) everyday, and the lab comes to me ever other day. My blood still hasn't reached it's goal yet, and I am very scared. I was told that if I do not keep up with my meds and my diet I can have a stroke, but if I am not aware of my bleeding I can bleed to death. So I think that there is some kind of middle ground, I just have to find it. I hope I didn't write too much, it just helps talking about it because my three little girls cannot see me in pain. To them I am never in pain, I am their hero.

VAD, Neck Cracking?, M25

While at the beach in Athens, Greece (after just arriving) with my brother, I suffered the dissection of the vertebral artery which resulted in an ischemic stroke leaving me hemiplegic.  

After spending over a week recovering in Athens, my brother-in-law (a cardiothoracic surgeon at of NYU Medical Center) escorted me back to New York and the NYU Rusk Center.  I was in inpatient rehab for a month and I'm continuing outpatient rehab.  

Now I have hemiparesis on my left side but it's definitely improving, as most problems with my speech, vision and cognition have improved significantly.  The major problem areas are my ankle, hand/fingers/shoulder and to some extent balance.  I have a number of neurologists/neurosurgeons thanks to my brother-in-law and one of the first questions each one asked me was whether I go to a chiropractor.  Although I dont, I was an avid neck cracker and they think those types of neck manipulations caused the dissection.

VAD, Stroke, Chiro-Linked, F35

I was glad to find your site, it has been helpful to me in trying to figure out what happened.  Here is my story:

Two weeks ago, I went for my fourth visit with my chiropractor.  The manipulation on my neck seemed to be the same as usual, but as soon as I set up, my ears were ringing terribly.  I was so dizzy that I couldn't even focus my eyes, I was immediately sick at my stomach, I was sweating so much that my clothes were wet, and I felt like I couldn't move my arms.  The chiropractor tried to convince me that I just sat up too soon, but this was nothing like I had ever felt before.  I am 35 yrs old, in good health (only a hypo thyroid problem) wife, and mother of three.

An ambulance was called to the office, and after examination in the ER and a CT scan, they said that I was just suffering from "vertigo" and to take meclazine for that.  I would be fine in a few days.  They knew this happened right after manipulation but said it may be just a pinched nerve and caused me some temporary dizziness.  I should be fine in a few days.  After four hours, they sent me home.  In the wheelchair my husband was wheeling me out in, I could not even hold my head up because of the severe exhaustion.  I sat asleep at the curb in the chair while he got the car.  Something just wasn't right.

Next morning I was still feeling dizzy, but had this terrible deep sound in my ears.  I didn't think they had even looked in my ears at the ER, so I thought this all may be from some "inner ear" problems.  I went to a weekend medical clinic to have the doctor check my ears.  He said nothing wrong, even after I told him about the chiropractor, and diagnosed me with "vertigo".  I tried to calm my fears that something just wasn't right.

For the next two days, I just slept.  My dizziness was much less but the loud sound in my ear was weird.  I was so tired that I found it hard to move.  I really felt like there was something else going on.  Even though two doctors already said it was "vertigo".  I called my regular PCP and she told me to come immediately.

She admitted me to the hospital, done an MRI at 9:00 pm and moved me to ICU at 2:00 am because I had suffered a stroke and she thought I may have something called vertebral artery dissection.  They immediately started me on IV heparin and waited for the neurosurgeon to come in the morning.

He confirmed her diagnosis and said a small blood clot had went to my brain because of this dissection.  The good news was that the clot was setting in a part of the brain that "really didn't do anything".  (great opening for a good joke, huh). He said it was definitely because of the chiropractor, and a neurologist my PCP consulted with said no doubt....chiropractors fault.

So, after a week in the hospital, I finally was set free.  All I can say is God is good!  The only problems I'm still having are mild dizziness, which is probably from my high blood pressure (currently running around 150/110).  PCP started me on HCTZ to help, but neurosurgeon said high bp is normal with this.  He's not really concerned.  Doctor says he doesn't think I will have any long term effects from this.  Just stay on Coumadin for 6 months and BP meds until it goes back to normal.

I'm a nervous wreck though.  I have no real medical knowledge.  I don't know if this clot is going to move if I bump my head and land in a part of the brain that is not so "useless". 

Read more personal stories:  Go to Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Share your personal story on the site.



Visit the new VAD Chat Forum (started 11/21/09) to discuss VAD, ask questions, and help others.

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.

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