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.
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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
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
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, 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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".
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