Treatment at Stroke Center Leads to Relief from Aneurysm
Sheila Huey suffered from blinding headaches, a swollen-right eye and double vision. Initially, the symptoms were thought to be associated with a bad sinus infection. The truth revealed a large aneurysm was growing in her brain.
It took two long months for Sheila, who also suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), to be diagnosed. Thankfully, a visit with an eye doctor set her on the right path.
“He came in the room and immediately said, ‘I don’t mean to scare you, but you need to see a neurologist. You have an aneurysm,’” said the 52-year-old, lifelong Arenzville resident. “I couldn’t believe it. It was the farthest thing from my mind.”
Once imaging confirmed the aneurysm, Sheila found herself in the office of Augusto Elias, MD, a Clinical Radiologist and key member of Memorial’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.
“By that time, my headaches were so much worse,” she said. “And I would only leave the house to go to one local restaurant because the lighting everywhere else hurt my eye so bad.”
Dr. Elias and his medical team, physician assistant Bill Greer and registered nurse Tim Flatley, recommended a procedure called endovascular coiling. It involves filling the aneurysm with detachable wire that acts as a sealant and prevents blood from entering, which is how ruptures occur.
“I was relieved, but at the same time I was very scared,” Sheila said. “But I trusted them. Day or night, I could call Tim with a question and he’d call right back. It also helped that I could talk baseball with him.”
Sheila’s first operation was in the summer of 2014. Afterward, she was back to her old self—rooting on her beloved Cardinals, cooking dinners for her partner, Brian, and getting through the whole day without having to lie down to rest her eye.
“I could take the sunlight and even wear makeup again,” she said. “It felt amazing.”
However, a routine, checkup post-surgery revealed another hurdle in her recovery.
“We found there was some blood starting to fill the aneurysm, which put her at risk of a possible rupture,” Greer said. “So we recommended retreating this with a device called a pipeline flow-diverting stent that acts to channel the blood away from the aneurysm.”
After talking it over with Brian and her two grown children, Randi and Cole, Sheila knew it was the right decision. But there was still one hiccup.
“At first, I wasn’t going to make an appointment because the Cardinals had made the playoffs, and I wasn’t going to miss any of it,” Sheila said. “But when they lost, I got a call from Tim asking if I was ready to put that stent in.”
Sheila’s second operation was successful and her long-term prognosis looks great. She recently quit smoking and moderated her blood pressure, factors strongly associated with recurrence. She’s happy, healthy and not taking anything for granted.
“They took my pain away and gave me my life back,” she said. “It’s hard to believe I came so close to not making it; I’m one lucky girl.”