The first appointment with the neurologist, Dr. M, was on January 8, 2015. He had us bring in a CD of the MRI that Dr. G, the ENT, had done. He spent some time listening to Fabgrandpa’s symptoms, looking at the records from the recent visits to the primary care and ear/nose/throat doctors. Then he looked at the MRI and said it looks like Fabgrandpa had had a TIA some time in the past.
Dr. M decided to do several tests, most of which were done in his office. I am not sure what all of the tests were for, but one was to check for nerve damage in Fabgrandpa’s legs and feet. One was to test balance. One was done at the hospital, a CTA. Computed Tomography Angiography is used to diagnose and evaluate many diseases of blood vessels and related conditions.
After all the testing was done, Dr. M was on vacation for three weeks, while we sat and worried about Fabgrandpa having another stroke. Finally, we had our last visit with the neurologist on March 19, 2015. At that visit, we still did not have an answer for why Fabgrandpa was feeling off balance. However, Dr. M said that the CTA showed a blockage in the left Carotid Artery. Normally, they don’t worry about a blockage until it is about 90% blocked. But, this blockage also came with an ulcer in the plaque that was blocking the artery.
An ulcerated plaque is where some of the plaque has broken off, and gone with the blood flow through the artery to the brain. The place where the plaque broke off left a hole, or ulcer, in the plaque. The danger in that ulcerated plaque is that blood could settle in the hole, and form a clot, then come out of the ulcer and go to the brain, causing a massive stroke. He said he was referring us to Dr. Whitney, a vascular surgeon.
Our appointment with Dr. Whitney was on March 25, 2015. Dr. Whitney had already looked over Fabgrandpa’s medical records from all the other doctors we had seen. He was very blunt but to the point. Fabgrandpa needed surgery to remove the ulcer and clean out the carotid artery. We talked about the risks involved, what would happen during surgery, and how long he would be in the hospital. Then, Dr. Whitney scheduled surgery for April 2, 2015.
We went home from that visit with Dr. Whitney stunned. We had no idea that the surgery was that urgent. We also discussed how we have been going to doctors since September 3, 2014, looking for the cause for feeling off balance and stumbling when walking, and the doctors accidently found this other thing that could be life threatening. THAT is scarey.
So, I will repeat what I have said before: Don’t Ignore The Symptoms When You Are Just A Little “Off”. Your doctor may not find the cause for your symptom immediately, but they may just accidently find something that will save your life.