A life saving procedure: Local woman shares brain aneurysm journey

She hopes with her journey, others will take the reins when it comes to their health.

Posted: Oct 27, 2017 9:03 PM
Updated: Oct 27, 2017 9:03 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Lisa Stimley is a speech pathologist in Terre Haute.

"I deal a lot with brain aneurysms, with strokes, that sort of thing," she said.

For more than 25 years, she's helped others along their path to recovery.

"I know about the brain, and I know what can happen if you don't do anything," she said.

That's why she never imagined she'd be in a similar situation. 

Stimley had been dealing with hearing loss over the years. 

"I had a right sensorineural hearing loss since 2006," she said, "It had continued to get worse. They were doing MRIs on that just to follow the hearing loss to see if possibly there was a tumor or something like that."

In the fall of 2015, Stimley says her hearing suddenly declined significantly. She was referred to Indianapolis.

"I met with a doctor at IU Med," she said, "He had an MRI done, and it showed nothing except for they couldn't figure out why I had the hearing loss. They told me to come back in March."

When Stimley returned in the spring of 2016 for another MRI, doctors found spots.

"We were scheduled to go on vacation in Europe, we had it all planned," she said, "That was in July when we were going to take vacation. The doctor said, don't worry it looks like some aneurysms, but you've probably had them for a while, go on your vacation. He even checked with the neurologist to make sure that was ok, and it was fine."

Stimley came back from vacation and followed up with another doctor visit. 

"Within a couple of weeks I went in the first of August to the neurologist," she said, "He said they were aneurysms and we needed to do something about them. I had had no symptoms."

Doctors recommended open brain surgery, but Stimley decided to do her own research before taking that step.

That's when she came across a procedure known as the Pipeline Flex Embolization Device. 

"It was less invasive," she said, "An open brain surgery would always have some side effects."

After consulting with medical officials, they all agreed Stimley would be a candidate for the procedure. Last year, she went through with it in Indianapolis.

"They go in through the groin, as if with a heart catheterization, except for this goes up to the brain," Stimley said, "Then they insert this mesh tubing into the artery, the diseased artery."

Stimley says as procedure, she went into Intensive Care for a night and went home the following day.

"Basically I took Friday off to re-cooperate and I was back to work on Monday," she said, "Very quick recovery, it was painless. I was tired of course after that, but other than that, really no side effects whatsoever."

Since having the procedure done a year ago, Stimley says it feels like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders.

"If I had just let it go and just gone for constant MRIs to follow it, it would've been on my mind all the time," she said, "Probably with every patient I saw that had a brain aneurysm, I would've worried that I'd be the next person. So it was a huge relief, you feel like you have a new lease on life."

A new lease on life she may not have found if she didn't explore other options.

"It was all kind of surreal, I couldn't imagine it was really happening to me, but I knew that I had to have something done," she said, "I couldn't just wait and see because if it bursts, I probably wouldn't be here talking to you."

She hopes with her journey, others will take the reins when it comes to their health.

"Don't be afraid to get out there and see what's available," she said, "and kind of take charge of your own health care."

As of her last follow up visit in March, Stimley is happy to report that doctors said her aneurysms are gone.

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