On December 6, 2014, at the age of 36, I had a Cardio Vascular Attack (CVA) that paralyzed the right side of my body. My stroke was due to a dissection of my artery from blunt force trauma to my neck. It is speculated by some neurologists that there is a link to chiropractor visits and CVA. The reason for my stroke was explained to me in a brilliant metaphorical way by my neurologist:
The artery is like a garden hose, made up of several layers of tissue. The garden
hose was not meant for twisting, turning, pulling, and yanking- much like how a
chiropractor adjusts your neck. If we did this to the garden hose, over time, it will
weaken and begin to separate from itself. Once the walls start to fray, the blood passing by will begin to collect at the sight of the injury; In turn, causing your blood to clot.
I had an eight-centimeter blood clot stuck in my brain. For my American friends, this is about 3 inches in length (you’re welcome). I was flown from Memorial in Modesto, California to California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) San Francisco, California within three hours of the onset of my stroke symptoms. Dr. Warren Kim performed a brand-new procedure on me called a Mechanical Thrombectomy (MT).
An MT is a catheter-based device that contributes to thrombus removal via thrombus fragmentation, maceration/aspiration (Sauk & Vadantham, 2018). Basically, it’s a Roto Rooter for the arteries. It goes in and extracts the clot from your arteries. If you or a loved one gets to undergo one of these procedures, expect some hair loss. The loss of hair is due to the radiation injected into the body assisting the doctor in locating the source of the blood clot. Don’t worry though, your hair will grow back.
At the time, this procedure was so new they stated on my billing paperwork “Experimental Procedure.” With this device, the surgeon was able to extract an eight-centimeter blood clot that was lodged in my brain through my groin- leaving me with a dainty ¼ inch scar. This procedure saved my life.
Remember my Roto Rooter analogy? Here is a really smart sounding way to explain it: “MT is indicated for patients with acute ischemic stroke due to a large artery occlusion in the anterior circulation who can be treated within 24 hours of the onset of the stroke” (Oliveira-Filho & Samuels, 2021). This is just a fancy way of saying the patient needs to have their pipe completely clogged in order for them to be eligible for the procedure. This means that not every stroke patient is qualified for an MT. Sadly, only 10% of stroke patients qualify for an MT (Oliveira-Filho & Samuels, 2021). A statistic that I hope will change in the near future.
I am happy to report that 13,010 MT’s were completed in the United States in just 2016 alone which is 1.3 times higher than 2015 (MacKenzie, Moeini-Naghani, & Sigounas, 2020). Even though I wished these statistics were higher, this is still positive news for the medical industry because people can definitely benefit from this procedure. I was originally taken to Memorial in Modesto, California. Due to the fact that the majority of MT’s are taking place in larger cities, I had to be flown to San Francisco (MacKenzie, Moeini-Naghani, & Sigounas, 2020). Additional transportation takes time, and time is life. I cannot emphasize this enough- if you or a loved one experiences stroke, it’s very important to call 9-1-1.
“Someone once asked me how I hold my head up so high after all I’ve been through. I said, “it’s because no matter what, I am a survivor. Not a victim.” ~Patricia Buckley