Recovery progress after stroke and vertebral artery dissection

I have been meaning to provide an update on my recovery progress after suffering the vertebral artery dissection and stroke. I had another MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram) scan of my head and neck vasculature on January 30th, about eight weeks after the stroke and six weeks after beginning the anticoagulant therapy.

MRA results

The report I received from the radiologist who read/interpreted the MRA images stated that my vertebral artery had an “essentially normal appearing lumen” with no signs of the dissection from before. This is simply amazing to me that the dissected vertebral artery has healed completely.

While I’m overjoyed, I do need to await the consult with my neurologist to discuss the MRA report and determine what happens next in my treatment plan. That appointment is in about 10 days from today. My expectation is that I’ll still need one or more follow-up MRAs to watch for any potential issues with my vertebral arteries or cranial vasculature—just in case—and hopefully I can scale back or discontinue the anticoagulation therapy immediately.

Vertebral artery images: then and now

Below are images of my vertebral artery showing the dissection and narrowing of the lumen ← as compared to the same after six weeks of anticoagulant therapy → showing a return to normal size and function.

Comparison MRAs showing vertebral artery dissection ← and recovery →

 

And, below is the larger image of the latest MRA of the carotid and vertebral arteries with the right side showing signs of recovery.

My follow-up MRA showing recovery of right vertebral artery 8 weeks after dissection.

What now?

My primary doctor has cleared me for any activity I want to do including running, cycling, and other sports with the exception of anything at high altitudes (> 10,000 ft.) or at extreme pressure (scuba diving). I’m slowly getting back into my fitness/training regimen with an eye toward some ultra running goals later this year. With the recurrence possibility of this type of artery dissection and stroke slim to none, I intend to live life fully and demonstrate that exercise truly is the best medicine.

709 Replies to “Recovery progress after stroke and vertebral artery dissection”

  1. Hello, if this is still an active thread, I would really like to talk with some folks who have lived with VAD for over 8 months. How they live their lives . I have retuned to a mostly active life. However, compared to the person I was, its not the same. I was wondering dose it ever go completey away?

    1. It has been seven months since my stroke. My daily activities are back to normal but I still live in a constant state of dizziness and being off-balance. I hope I continue to get better especially as I get closer to the one year mark.

    2. Rose, You are not alone in your wondering if you will some day be your old self. I am 6 months from my episode and I wonder as well. I can see great progress and have just planned a trip on my own for a couple of days in June, but I tire easily and my right arm, hand, numbness on right side of face, and right shoulder at times seem worse and then at other times better. Handwriting is a painful chore. Consequently I type messages whenever I can. When I ask doctors about the outlook for complete recovery the reply is universal – that everyone is different and that over time the brain will find a way to compensate if we are patient and do exercises that stimulate the process. I would like to know if you, or anyone on this forum have numbness around the mouth and if you have experienced itching around the base of the nose? I was told recently by an experienced, older doctor that that symptom is not uncommon pre and post stroke. Please keep asking questions as I think it helps us all. Having a stroke is such a lonely and unknown event. It helps to know that others are making the same journey.

      1. Hi:

        I am amost two years out from a right side VAD and a basilar artery clot and 2 bleeding strokes, one small one in my cerebellum and one small one in my brain stem. I, too, have slight numbness on the right side of my body. I spent three months in hospital and one month after that for surgery for ovarian cancer. After that I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy.

        All I can say is that you will slowly heal but it does take time as it it has with me. I am much better than I was this time last year. Try not to think about it and avoid straining your neck. Make sure you drink plenty of water!

    3. Thank you! This helps knowing others are out there. At first I thought I was never going to be able to workout, drive, walk right again. Then things started to turn on like light switches. Dizzyness was an a big issue. Though now it’s less and less, lasts only A moment. Pain in the neck was contant at first and now when I over do it. Though I keep I little pain but I can deal, though I can’t run like I did before with out creating migraines. I hope that goes away soon. I have done a lot of reading and it seems that this happens to some active people . I wonder if it’s common ? Thanks for everything! I wish you all the best at every stage ! And I walk a lot . It helps me feel better. I can’t say my neurologist was amazing . Did anyone have issues with doctors and the subject?

    4. I am 14 months out since my VAD with a TIA. An MRI at 5 months showed that I was healed. I am back to being active , working 40 plus hours a week, but I am still not as I was before. I still have slight headaches almost daily but learn to live with it. Sometimes I feel like my right eye is droopy but it isn’t. I also have occasional dizziness. My neurologist does not understand why I still feel like this. The only medicine I take is a baby aspirin. I walk daily. I used to lift weights , but no more. I don’t want to do anything that would cause strain to my neck as many have had VAD from lifting weights and doing cross fit. So I just relax, not get too stressed and enjoy life.

    5. Sandy, thank you,! yes aspirin and walking.!Though I do lift some weights with my neck supported and not heavy, just repetition.

      Mary, my nose dose not go numb but my bottom lip has little to no feeling. Could have always been that way . I think the hardest part is my co workers no understanding . I was back at work within 10 days though I could barly walk .

      Recently, I have been putting myself in situations that make me dizzy. During occupational therapy I learned that I was avoiding situations that were uncomfortable and therefore not progressing. This is something that was discussed however , I may have taken it a little further than I should. My head thanks me’s..

      Everyone is saying….Double vision yes , so I went from 20 20 with a slight stigmatism ..to some not great vision.
      Wondering if that’ll go back or if this is permanent?

      As

  2. Hi All,
    first of all apologizes for my English, I’ll try to be clear.
    I have suffered a double diseccion. carotid and verterbral. Both on the left side.
    I had an accident skiing , but not too serious. I felt nothing after.
    A week after that I had the wortst headache of my life in my neck. Several days after I was working with my PC and I suddenly turned my head and at that moment the ictus appeared. I felt very dizzy and couldn’t see. My eyes were like dancing.
    After two weeks at hospital now I’m at home with warfarin, and in two months A MRI will be done to confirm that the tears are healing properly.
    I love skiing and riding my dirty bike, I would like to know if I will practice these sports. How is life after arterial dissection? I’m 42 y.o and I have a lot of things to do yet.
    Thanks all for this website

    1. Hi joe. I am looking forward to hearing the replies. I am in a similar situation and keen to return to all different types of activities.
      I have a friend who knows someone who has had cad and they after year went back to boxing ?? Sorry can’t be more hepful

      1. From all accounts, once the dissection has healed there is very little chance of a reoccurrence. After a rest period of 3 months, then a follow up after another 3, a CT scan confirmed my arteries appear normal. I have been riding a road bike (bicycle) for months following at high intensity / heart rate and have had no further issues.

    2. Hi Peter, Hi Wtt,
      Thanks for your posts. I’m glad to know that I will continue with sports
      When the neurologist told me I had dissections, I felt the only one who had suffered this ever, I feel better to hear from others like me.
      I’ll post any news from my doctors , I hope this could help .
      Thanks for this blogg

    3. Hi all,
      A lot of time has passed since I post my message . In my last visit with the neurologist, she told me that my two arteries were totally healed. Now I am having just an aspirin for six months and that’s it. I am practicing all kind of sports. The doctors told me to do just what I was doing before the dissections.
      Recurrence in dissections is very rare so I am living my life like this wouldn’t have happen. I will remember all my life this experience, my fears, my family absolutely worried at hospital but as time passes this memories are very far from me.
      I wish a lot of luck to all of you that are in the healing process and think positive, you will be healed in months.
      Kind regards
      Kind regards

    1. Hi, D morris,
      The first days after my stroke I realised my reading wasn’t as fast as usual, but after a week I can read properly.

  3. Hello everyone. The comments are encouraging and comforting. Thank you for posting. I was in an MVA a few weeks ago and was diagnosed with a Right VAD. I’m on aspirin, plavix and Lipitor. Sounds like from the post, this usually takes 3-6 months to heal. I do have a lot of neck pain mainly all on the right side of my neck but I can’t tell if it’s from the whip lash or dissection. Also, I was wondering if anyone had any ideas at night sleeping? It’s been really hard sleeping because of the pressure when I lay down. I’ve been trying to elevate my upper body more to sleep. Any suggestion? Any tips on natural healing or helping with the healing process? Thank you so much for reading.

    1. Hi
      I am now four weeks post spontaneous bilateral carotid dissection’s, thankful no stroke despite initial symptoms, previously fit and healthy. I am currently recovering at home, plan to return to work soon, I am on warfarin, heparin and regular paracetamol and stronger pain killers when required. I have started to increase my activity however continue to have continuous headaches, neck pain, eye pain and painful scalp on my left side the intensity varies. After discussion with my doctor and reading this site I am now aware this is something to expect and that it will take its own time to get better which in a strange way is reassuring. Has anyone had a bilateral dissection ? Is the recovery time still the same ? I am assuming so !! any help greatly appreciated and thanks for your posts been really informative.

      1. Hey, I had a bilateral carotid artery dissection 5 years ago with no stroke. I made a good recovery with only occasional migraines. If took about a year to feel normal again. I have just had a left VAD (again with no stroke) despite the chance of recurrence being 1% meaning I only have one route to the brain being intact. To be honest I feel like a ticking time bomb, I was 30 when I had my first dissection.

  4. Hello everyone! I suffered a VAD and stroke back in Oct of 2014. I was 37 years old at the time. My main lingering symptoms are dizziness, loss of balance, and double vision. I have done OT, PT, Vestibular Therapy, and starting Vision Therapy next week. I truly feel as though I’m doing worse since Christmastime. Could that be possible? I have returned to work part-time but need to figure out when I can go back full time. Most people I have talked to say that it could take up to three years to get back to normal…I’m not sure what will help me most…more time for rest and recovery or trying to jump back into my old schedule. Anyone have any thoughts?

    1. Dear Renee:

      I think if you can work up to full-time then that is better than sitting at home like I do exercising. I had really bad double vision, which lasted for 3 months at least. Now I have it in one corner of my right eye when I turn my head. I also had a right VAD. Shortly after the strokes I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I had deep vein thrombosis. I had surgery for cancer followed by chemotherapy. So far things are fine but I find the rehab very slow despite doing exercises every day for almost two years. Thankfully, through all this I had no pain or nauseous. I think you have to be patient; if you can work–work is a good rehabilitor and will help you get your mind off things. Hopefully, as you work you will get better and better until you can go full-time. I wish the best for you and wish I had the options to go back to work soon.

    1. The dissection (tear) commonly heals itself in around 6 weeks, which is common recovery time for vascular recovery, and also the usual advised recovery time for most surgeries.

      1. In my case, I found the coumadin that was prescribed for me in the hospital inhibited my bodies natural healing process. Once I got off the pharma and on a good nutrition/supplement program, I healed in 6-8 weeks.

    2. Just came from the neurologist. He reviewed the MRA again and MRI.
      There are no signs of stroke . Good thing-right? He said (several times) that I should not attempt to get the tear repaired. In fact he stressed that procedure is rarely if ever done unless it causes serious trouble ( strokes) due to the level of difficulty and high risk/low reward in my case.
      His opinion” leave it alone and stay calm ” I’m Sicilian-is he kidding? stay calm-really ?.
      Bob

      1. Hi Bob,

        Yep, that’s what is recommended along with anti stroke meds like plavix (clopidogrel is the active ingredient) and aspirin. I found the mental side of it more difficult than the physical, trying to stay calm and positive – I also think worrying and consciously/subconsciously limiting neck movements etc makes you stiffen up causing more pain and discomfort. I detailed my experience in earlier posts if you are interested.

        1. Peter-you hit the nail dead on , thanks man. 8 weeks ago I incorporated one simple 2 word tactic when things / people get annoying—walk away.
          God Bless

  5. Hi all,

    It has been a little over 6 months now since my dissection and all though it is a bumpy road I am recovering nicely. I am back to usual routines and able to lift weights again in the gym (70-80% of usual capacity). I still get headaches and neck pain but it is manageable. I seldom have to take any aspirin. Something I have noticed and wanted to ask you guys about is that when I get something innocent like a cold or flu like symptoms my neurological symptoms (headaches and neck pain) really worsen. Especially if I have to blow my nose a lot. It gets to the point where it is difficult for me to assess what is the cold and what is “post” dissection stuff. Is anybody else having this experience?

    1. I am happy to hear that you are recovering nicely! I too have experienced worsening symptoms when fighting a cold. I recently had a lower respiratory infection and my neck pain was much worse. Whenever I swallowed, sneezed, or coughed my neck hurt so much.

      1. Thanks Sherrie for your helpful comment. You know for men colds are “a real condition” as it is – lol- so having additional symptoms make me feel real sorry for my self!

        I am wishing you and everybody else here on the thread all the best and continued recovery.

        Niels in Copenhagen

    2. I came down with a cold two days ago. It is the first since a VAD stroke almost 5 months ago and had a dizzy spell this morning, the first since the day the stroke occurred when I stayed dizzy for hours. So it seems that a cold has brought out my neurological symptoms as well. Otherwise, I’m doing about everything I did pre-stroke but I seem to take longer doing it and I still have numbness on my right side (foot, hand, face) which has diminished but still bothers me . Do others notice a slowing down?
      I like reading about the recovery journey of others because it is an isolating experience.

  6. 2 things-
    first -i have a vad but ,to my knowledge, have never had a stroke (67). is it possible?
    2nd-is it possible to post the recent comments first?

    1. Hi Bob,

      Absolutely you can have a VAD and no stroke. I was one of those cases. The reason I was diagnosed was I had bad tension in my neck and trouble turning my head, accompanied by a dull constant headache in the back of the head. I also had visual disturbances on 2 occasions but an MRI showed no evidence of stroke damage.

      Regards,
      Peter

    2. Bob –

      Thanks for coming here and sharing. And… I liked your idea of listing the newest comments first, so that is now the case! I never imagined that so many people would visit the post and comment like this, but I’m grateful people are connecting and sharing here like this.

      Be well.

      -Robert

  7. Hi everyone, It has been exactly 4 months since I experienced a VAD. The overwhelming fatigue I have had is just now finally diminishing. (I have slept enough in the last 4 months to rival Rip Van Winkle.) I even have bursts of energy from time to time along with waking up with a resolve to tackle this or that project. It’s as though I have moments of “awakening” of my old self. This is very encouraging to me because I have been going through the motions of life since the stroke without much enthusiasm. I mention this subtle breakthrough at 4 months as a way to encourage some of you who may have had the same post-stroke feeling of coping but not fully your old self. I am 76 and many of you are half that age, so if I am getting my old self (zest for life) back, imagine what you will do! I was recently inspired by the stroke story of Tedy Bruschi, player for the NE Patriots. Here is the link in case you want to read it. http://patients.aan.com/resources/neurologynow/?event=home.showArticle&id=ovid.com:/bib/ovftdb/01222928-200804020-00011

  8. Hello again. I’m about 3 months past my VAD, no stroke (though I have had stroke like symptoms, arm weakness, etc). I’m getting out more than I did a couple months ago, but I expected to feel much better by now… However I still have consistent head pressure, occasional arm weakness and dizziness. Should I be concerned that symptoms have lingered this long?

    1. Jack, Are those symptoms better than they were 3 months ago? If so, you are making progress. I find that my measurement of recovery requires looking where I was 4 months ago (rear view mirror) and realizing how much better I am. Fatigue and right-side numbness (especially facial), and a little spastic muscle activity in the upper arm and shoulder keep reminding me that I’ve had a stroke. But when I compare how I felt when I came home from the hospital 4 months ago, I’ve made incredible progress. You sound to me as though you are making a strong recovery, and letting more time pass will bring you back to feeling more like yourself.

  9. Amazing stories folks-thanks
    I’m Bob -67 yr old male , controlled cholesterol with meds, heart stent (90%blockage) 1 bad lung-trauma, 2 bouts and victories with cancer and type 2 diabetes. I love water sports and sleeping.The price of a misspent youth( wrecks and bar fights).
    6 months ago the headaches started– noticeable, annoying, troublesome, recurrent–explosive
    .Each time the cause was environmental ( things or people-mostly people).
    Had a mria 3 days ago, result 80% blockage due to a v.a.d.. I’m setting up appointment with a vascular surgeon next week. Oh ,also-because of the heart stent I take Aspirin,Plavix ,Metoprolol already-probably why I still alive.
    Wife 3 kids,4 grand kids, grand kids have single mothers.
    Dam—I simply can’t die. Whoopee more stress.
    Thank You Lord
    Bob

  10. I had a VAD mid October 2014. Will finally get a neurology work up in April at a place where I am also scheduled for LASER DOPPLER BIL TCP02 at that time. Has anyone had that test? At the 3 month point, I have just ceased Coumadin, and many of the post-stroke symptoms are either so much better or have disappeared. I have tackled the risk factors which may have contributed to the stroke and I am very encouraged.

  11. Is it normal to have severe headaches off and on? My neurologist said I should start seeing relief from headaches in a week or so but I’m still struggling some days with head and neck pain. My TIA was Christmas Eve so it’s not yet been a month. I feel like I’m receiving different information and opinions regarding the healing process.

    Sherrie

    1. Hi Sherrie
      I had my VAD in August and I am still getting headaches. I am on medication which does help how bad they are but still get them. Reading other people’s replies think that is quite common.

    2. Hi Sherrie,

      It seems like everyone recovers at different rates. For me, I had significant headaches daily for about a month after my VAD and stroke. But they went away. Sometimes I still have neck pain, but I’m unsure if it’s related to the dissection, if it’s something else (muscular), or if it’s just psychological.

      Hope the healing continues for you and you have a complete recovery soon!

      -Robert

    3. You aren’t alone in getting mixed messages. It’s a medical no-man’s land where I live. Need to get where people really know their stuff. Will fly to a major medical center in April and get a handle on the reality of my condition. I couldn’t get any imaging done after having a VAD 3 months ago. My doctor said that no doctor in our region orders imaging to check on healing but assumes after 3 months of Coumadin that it has healed. I live in a rural state with low population and neurologists (especially ones who will see Medicare patients) are scarce as hen’s teeth. Looking forward to April!

      1. Even in a capital city in Australia (Brisbane), imaging was not ordered for me until 6 months post diagnosis. As you say, doctors rationalize that regardless of the results of the 3 month scan (healed or not) the treatment is the same. Makes sense, but doesn’t let the patient know how they are progressing or help to lower the stress level you experience after a diagnosis like this. I have my follow up for my 6 month scan on Thursday and will post back here with the results.

        Stay positive all, try not to stress too much.

  12. Dana,

    Don’t panic yet! It does take time for the dissection to heal, usually 3-6 months. I hit the three month mark in December but my dissection has not healed. I go back to the neurologist in February for my next follow up. Try to stay positive and rest when you can. What helps me is thinking about how sick I was when I was in the hospital and immediately following the dissection, and how far I’ve come now. I’m a different person. If you can look at it that way, then it is a lot easier to be patient and positive.

  13. I suffered a stroke on Oct 4, 2014 due to a right vertebral artery dissection. I went to the ER with severe vertigo, vomiting, and double vision. At the 3 month mark, last week, I had a follow up CT Scan and it showed the VAD has not healed as expected. Anyone else know what implications this has? I am taking aspirin and Lipitor for stroke prevention. I go to my neurologist next week and am a little worried why it hasn’t healed yet.

    1. Please be patient as you are not far out from the dissection. As all these posts say it takes at least 6 months for the VAD to heal and that means shorter and longer time for many people. You should comfort yourself that it has not gotten worse. Be positive and make sure you drink plenty of water.

    2. Thank you! Do people have to wait to go back to work until the dissection heals? I am a teacher and have been off work since my stroke. Still struggling with balance and double vision. I drive only in areas I am familiar with. Turning my head makes me dizzy.

      1. Dana,

        Just read your response before my initial response and had to post again. I am also a teacher, and was told I needed to stay out for two months. Due to not having disability insurance and not having enough days, I made the choice to go back to work after only one week. There are times that it is tough, but in general, it was the best thing that I did! Being in a routine, surrounded by people who care about me, was far better then staying home alone. I guess it depends on what grade you teach. I teach middle school students, so they are older and require less from me physically. I also have phenomenal paras in my classroom who know the situation and keep a close eye on me.

        1. As previously posted, my disection was July 11th. Thankfully no stroke or neurological effects. I still get pain and truthfully it does worry me. I had an MRO in December and everything looks good. I am hopeful I can fly in February. The neurologist said I was able to bit truthfully I am still nervous. Has anyone else felt this way. I am not a nervous person however this whole thing has put a scare into me. I know how very lucky I am to still be here. I am thankful everyday as things could have been much worse. I have a child with exceptionalities who has many health concerns so resting and a stress free life eludes me. I am wondering if any of you have been EDS? It is a connective tissue disorder? It was mentioned to me when I was in emergency. I have many of the symptoms and so does my daughter. We are going to be tested. I also had an ultrasound of my aeorta to ensure it was ok. Has anyone else been tested for that?
          Cheers
          Pat

  14. Kerry,
    Thank you! Reading you experience has given me some comfort. I work from home so that isn’t a huge issue but I am sad about not being able to do yoga. I was also looking forward to a vacation but looks like I may not be able to fly.

    I hope you continue to recover quickly.

    Sherrie

  15. I am so happy to have found this blog. I am a 41 year old female. My VAD occurred on Dec.24, last week. I was sitting on my sofa watching tv and I felt a pop then an electric shock through my head. It felt like blood rushed from my head and I lost vision in my right eye briefly. This was followed by severe headache on the right side of my head. Four days later I was still experiencing headaches and went to the ER. The angiogram revealed a tear in my right carotid artery. My MRI didn’t show any damage to my brain. I was put on aspirin and told to limit my activity.

    It’s been 5 days since the ER and the right side of my neck hurts so badly that can’t turn my neck. I was back at the ER yesterday. They did scans again but didn’t see anything new. I’m terrified of this becoming worse because my pain is worse.

    I appreciate reading the experiences of others. If anyone has any advice I’d love to hear it.

    1. Hi Sherrie,

      I don’t usually post, but your experience was incredibly similar to mine. My VAD occurred in my left vertebral artery on September 11, 2014. I thought I slept wrong and pulled a muscle in my neck, to the point that my best friend was massaging it that whole day at work. September 13th I had the worst headache of my life, it felt like there were knives stabbing the back of my head. I spent 4 days in the hospital because I was a stroke and heart attack risk, all at 27 years old. When I was released, I was put on aspirin and told to limit my activity.

      Three days later I was back in the hospital because of incredible neck pain. The tear did not spread, it was simply part of the healing process. I was in the hospital for another day and given IV painkillers. A few days later, the pain finally went away. I returned to work (teaching middle school students) on September 22nd.

      I want to reassure you that the pain does go away and things do get easier. However, there are times that I still feel pain in that part of my neck, and that can be pretty scary. It does go away rather quickly, but it still freaks me out. I recently went back for my 3 month testing where the doctors found that my artery went from being 90 percent blocked to 70 percent blocked by a blood clot formed during the dissection. I have to continue to take it easy until we get to the 6th month mark.

      My best advice for you is to take it easy, but keep things as normal as possible. Originally, the doctors wanted me out of work for awhile. I would have gone crazy, so I opted to go back after just one week and it was the best thing I did. The routine gave me a reason to get up every morning. Also, this may sound petty and girly, but don’t go crazy if you gain weight. I was put on a medicine to open up my blood vessels and it made me gain 30 lbs in 3 months. As horrifying as that is, it did save my life. Keep things in perspective. It could have been a whole lot worse. Eventually you will feel normal again, but it will take time.

  16. Hi Everyone,

    Thank you all for sharing your stories, for asking questions, and for providing answers based on your experiences. It’s amazing to see all the activity and genuine information here.

    It has been a little over three years since my VAD and stroke. I’m now only taking baby aspirin (81mg) and probably will for the rest of my life as a precaution. I occasionally feel a neck pain that seems like it could be related to the dissection, but I think it’s just a muscle pain or some “phantom” pain instead of anything real. I continue to have annual follow-ups with a neurologist, and the latest advice they’ve given me is to do whatever I want—no restrictions.

    In terms of flying, I was cleared to travel pretty quickly after the stroke by my doctors. I believe that was within a couple months. What they cautioned me about was anything non-commercial where pressures could change rapidly like skydiving and SCUBA diving.

    Hope you all have a great 2015 and for those that have recently had a dissection or stroke, my thoughts are with you for a speedy recovery.

    -Robert

    1. Robert thank you for your posts. It helped me. Im 40. I had dissection and mini stroke on dec 24. Im glad you feel good. It gives me hope for my recovery.
      Thank you again,
      Anita

  17. So you had no issues with the pressure? Also were you able to get travel insurance? My family doctor told me that a VAD is treated the same as a stroke, so no flying for a year. I have to be on plavix for a year. He just called me last week with MRI results. It is healed. The neurologist said flying should be ok. I am going to contact the specialist at the stroke clinic to get his input. The difference in opinions is making me nervous and I am not usually a nervous person. I still get pain in my neck, that is why the follow up MRI was ordered. Does anyone else experience this?

    1. I was on Coumadin for 4 months. Now I am on a baby aspirin for life. I saw a vascular neurologist who at 5 months told me it was safe to fly since my artery was healed. I live in Rhode Island and flew to South Carolina . Then 2 months later I flew to Florida. Last month I flew across the country to California. No issues with airplane pressure. I have daily head pain & pressure but everything felt the same after flying.

    2. I did not feel any problems with pressure I have to say and it was along haul flight for us to the USA. I was just told not to do that blowing through your nose while holding your nose to equalise the pressure in the ears so I wore the travel ear plugs which seemed to work. I had to pay an extra £100 for my insurance but that is covering me for a year and I am flying back to the States later this month which they have covered me for. Hope that helps

      1. Thank you for the information. How long did you wait to fly? I have insurance through my credit card however my doctor said it may not cover me now that I have had a VAD. I am wondering if I should speak to my travel agent and then the insurance.

        1. I waited 3 months from the VAD to travel and told my insurance company (it is through my bank) 3 weeks before I was leaving once I had the OK from the consultant. They asked me what medication I was on and some medical things such as what symptoms I still had ( told them about the headaches and hoarse voice from the vocal cord palsy) and that my consultant had said it was OK to fly – they were really mainly concerned to see if there was any other physical difficulties such as stroke and how much physical damage there was but as I have full use of my l imbs they seemed fine by that. Hope that helps. Good luck

  18. Happy New Year to all of you. I had my VAD in July. I just had a follow up MRI and things look good. I still get headaches at times and neck pain once in awhile. I was wondering if any of you have been cleared to fly? I am concerned because I do swell with flying. Wondering if my travel insurance will aprove me?

    1. I had my VAD in March. My MRI 5 months later showed that it had healed. I flew right after that. I have since flown a few times with no problems. I still have daily head pain from my VAD.

      1. Hi. Happy New year! I had my VAD in August and after my review MRI in October which showed it had healed 50% I was allowed to fly I was on anticoagulant therapy still( now on platelet therapy) Im still having a few problems so having SALT to help with the vocal cord palsy and doing Pilates to help with the balance. Headaches still present some of the time. Take care all

  19. In January I will be faced with making a decision of continuing Coumadin or replacing it with aspirin. My VAD occurred mid-October, 2014. Whether to stay on it for 3 months or 6 months after the VAD event isn’t clear to me. If any of you have an opinion on this, I would appreciate it.

    1. My VAD was in April. By September, after my 3rd MRI and it showed the vertebral artery was still not canalized back to more than 30% flow, my neurologist said I still needed blood thinning. But, if you refer to the Physicians Desk Reference for Coumadin, it clearly states that Coumadin does not heal ischemic tissue damage, which is what I needed. So, I sought out a more alternative doctor and he put me on a regimen of enzymes, probiotics, chelation, minerals, anti-oxidents and a whole food diet. It took 3 weeks to step down off the Coumadin. But, once I got my system cleaned out, my progress has been phenomenal. I believe the Coumadin was good while I was still in the early stages of healing, but later on, it inhibited my healing and I needed to take things that would support my bodies natural ability to heal. Be honest with yourself and pursue the course you need. There are many ways to heal the body. Many blessings to you, Mary. I hope your recovery is quick.

  20. Hi all.

    Since I was here last I have been reading just about everything available about Vertebral artery dissection, VAD with mini-strokes, strokes etc. including many testimonies. I am encouraged by this.

    IN TIME WE WILL ALL BE FINE.

    When the initial danger (1-2 weeks) is over then the recovery will set in general set in. The arteries heals themselves in 3-6 months in the majority of cases which CT or MRI scans will detect and functions can be regained. In my case the CT scan looks fine with no VAD showing (4 months in). Sleep is important and lots of it. Healthy diet. Mindfulness and self-compassion is helpful especially if you have anxiety- and depression symptoms. Let your body know that you intent to use it. All of it functions. Exercise and listen to the body and breathe. Then rest again.

    Of course we are all different but when I read about the advice given by various neurologists to their patients about the recovery process I find them very unclear. They are ranging from very conservative “don’t do any neck movements at all more or less forever” to “there is minimal risk so you can do whatever you want”. I wish to be about what I value and not about what I fear. So I have started cadio 3 times a week. I do get headaches. I hope they will pass because they are painful and scary. Perhaps it will be like a broken bone that has healed but does not feel the same. When I am 6 months post-VAD I will assess again and return to resistance/weight training and some cross fit . I will be aware to avoid neck movement/rolls simultaneous with weight/pressure/resistance.

    My dietitian has put me on a supplement Proanthocyanidins sometimes called OPCs, an abbreviation for oligomeric procyanidins, or PCOs. Proanthocyanidins are found in most plants and thus are a part of the human diet. They can be found in large quantities in grape seeds and skin, hence in red wine and grape seed extract, in cocoa, nuts, apples and all Prunus fruits (most concentrated in the skin) and in the bark of Cinnamomum (cinnamon) and Pinus pinaster (formerly known as Pinus maritima). It can also be found in berries like blueberry and cranberry (notably procyanidin A2) and fruits from wild shrubs such as chokeberry,hawthorn, rosehip and sea buckthorn. PCOs seems to help in stroke prevention by increasing red blood cell pliability, decreasing blood viscosity and increasing fibrinolytic activity. PCOs improve blood vessel wall elasticity and lower blood pressure . PCOs help to stabilize the blood-brain barrier. By combating atherosclerosis and hypertension, PCOs could provide additional protection against stroke. Grape seed proanthocyanidins confer more protection against lipid peroxidation that do vitamin C, vitamin E or beta-carotene.
    As always – please do not start supplements of any kind before checking with your GP and make sure that they do not interact badly with the medicine you may be already on.

    Remember you are not alone. Someone else is having this too.

    Wishing all a speedy and safe recovery.

  21. I had a VAD 2 1/2 months ago. Right side feels numb, especially right side of face and right foot. Right foot is very cold much of the time. My right arm and right leg have muscles which feel sore, as though injured. I would like to know from others’ experiences during recovery how long the numbness (and muscle soreness) lasts?

    1. hi Mary. I had dissected carotid artery. Two weeks later I had stroke. This happened August 2014, 4 months ago. I too have numb left side from head to toe. Sorry to say no relief and no prospect in short term. Doc says tingling sensation is good sign coz sensation is returning. I wish made me happy! I was offered amitripoline (sorry about spelling)and another similar drug. They weren’t much help sorry.
      Regards. Sam.

      1. Thanks, Sam. I have trouble being patient. I have been told that eventually the body heals itself in many, many ways but it takes time.

        All the best to you,

        Mary

      2. Hi Mary,
        I had a VAD and stroke about 15 months ago. I’ve been on Lyrica since the for the nerve damage and it has been a great help.aybe that could help with the tingling and numbness? It’s actually a fibromyalgia medicine. I still have muscle pain but it’s still getting continuously better. Stay positive :). I hope that helps!
        Shannon

    2. Hi Mary,

      I had a VAD about 2 months ago and my right side is tingly from top to bottom, with my leg being the most sensitive. It’s uncomfortable and some days I’d worse than others. My doctor put me on gapapentin to relieve some of the tingle. It helps to a certain degree. I wonder when will this feeling start to fade? Have your symptoms subsided? I also have occasional head pain and anxiety.

      – Ksenia

      1. Ksenia,

        It has been almost 8 months since I experienced the stroke and my right side is still not back to normal. My shoulder has remained slightly “frozen”, the tingling/numbness in right arm, right foot, and right side of mouth is always present, and I have developed intermittent pain in my hip. You would not know if you met me that I have had a stroke, and although it is a daily struggle, I am taking this episode as a challenge to work through and continue doing the projects I need to do . Don’t put up with anxiety. Spend some time with “hope and help for your Nerves.” It is a book that has been around for years and its advice will take care of your anxiety. You’ll recover in time. Keep working on whatever your symptoms are. Keep in touch. It’s lonely business, recovering from a stroke! That’s why it is so reassuring to read about others who are making the same journey.

      2. I’ve experienced tingling after my stroke. it’s been a year now and I still have the tingling feeling on my left side.

  22. I’m a 33 year old woman who had a left VAD between the C1-C4 along with three Mini strokes. Cause of the dissection was a ride on splash mountain at Disney world in May 2014. I’ve just been told I can go off the blood thinners and my dissection is almost gone.! My Neurologist has no concerns there will be a full recovery of the dissection, however has referred me to a vascular surgeon for early January. Has anyone else been asked to see vascular dr after ? Just unsure as to why I need to go if the VAD is almost healed.
    Thanks!

  23. Think the severe dizziness was about a month and then gradually improved. Its almost 7 years on and now I only get dizzy when really tired or getting off trains and buses. They explained to me that the part of my brain that controls balance was damaged by the stroke and other parts of the brain took on the role as I recovered. Don’t think your son had a stroke so hopefully will recover faster than I did. Also my right foot felt very cold etc but suddenly got better a few months ago! Things continue to improve. Best wishes for the holidays.

  24. Monica, sounds like your son is going through the same as I did, I walked a few steps after 10 days but my balance was very bad. I went home after 2 weeks when I could manage stairs but was readmitted when a MRI showed something of concern, that turned out to be nothing. It is amazing how rest will help his recovery, and patience. I did Pilates to help my balance, it does still cause problems when I am tired but mainly I am fine.

    1. Thanks for your response Sarah, how long did the dizziness remain? I am frustrated with his doctor and the neurosurgeon, both giving limited information regarding recovery. They simply repeat he is lucky to be alive. It is helpful for me to connect with folks who have suffered a VAD, helping me in my support of him through his healing journey. Best wishes for this festive season. Monica

  25. Reading your blog and the many folks that have shared their trauma and recovery has given me hope for a full recovery for my son, age 36 years. He suffered a VAD on December 8th and has been in the hospital since. He is continues to suffer from a chronic headache, blurred vision, poor sensation on the left side (always feels cold on the left side), pain in the left arm and leg, and cannot walk do to poor equilibrium. Having said all this, he is improving, but the ability to walk more than a couple of shaking steps has not. I am going a bit crazy with the number of different drugs that are being administered as I am not sure the medical doctor knows what to do. I have read all the postings carefully, but cannot find anything specific to rehab and the possible length of stay. This causes him additional sadness as his daughters are 2.5 years and 2 months and he wants to be home with them. I greatly appreciate that you’ve created this blog. thanks so much, monica

  26. I was diagnosed with a VAD in April, after having numbness, balance and walking problems. On the MRI they were never able to actually see the dissection. All that was seen was the thrombosis and the aneurysm. This could be because of a few things. One, the outer wall of the artery did not tear, only the inner layers. This would cause pooling of blood in that location and would cause thrombosis to accumulate, the artery develops stenosis, blood flow stops and the symptoms noted above would occur. Two, the thrombosis was called “age-indeterminate”. This means the tear could have occurred long ago, or was many small tears over time. This could mean the outer wall tore sometime ago and the dissection would no longer show up on an image because it has healed, leaving only the thrombosis and aneurysm to be seen.
    My thrombosis lingered for 6 months, the neuro wanted me to stay on Coumadin, but I knew it was inhibiting my ability to heal. So, I sought out a naturo-chiropractor (I know, I know, the evil chiropractor). He was very aware of VADs because he has to know how to avoid giving one to a patient. He put me on a 60-day diet and supplement program that has really gotten me back to full health. If anyone is interested in learning of this, I highly recommend it.
    I’ve just this week started doing yoga again. I did a downward dog!! Moving forward thanks to enzymes.

  27. Hi All.
    Thank you all for this blog.
    I had a dissection (no stroke) in august while cross fit training. I had a server headache in the back of my head. Had no other symptoms so just when home thinking it would pass. The headache and head pain continued and when I saw a doctor he recommended that I see a manual therapist. I saw a chiropractor the next couple of months which of course was not helping me. In november I saw a neurologist who was convinced that it was dissection and was CT scanned 3 months after the incident. The result is that the dissection is no longer showing as it has probably healed in the meantime. It all looks fine on the scan. I take no medicine apart from aspirin now and then. My problem is still headache /-pain and occasional a bit of neck pain. These symptoms worsen when I train/exercise especially the day after. I am not worried that I will have another dissection but I bothered by the headache and wonder if it will pass at some stage? It has now been 4,5 month. I still insist on training even with the pain. If anybody have any knowledge about headaches in the aftermath of dissection or have a similar experience regarding would you please post. Thanks in advance.

    1. From the information I’ve gathered from my Neurologist and a VAD support group I’m in, raising your blood pressure up too high while you have a dissection can further damage the artery. So it’s better to layoff the cardio at first. And my Neurologist also said not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk.

      However my dissection happened only about two months and half ago. It sounds like you’re much farther along. However I’d still be cautious if you still have symptoms. I’ve been told when I do start exercising again to start slow, not get my heart rate up too high, and to start with like an elliptical or stationary bike, which is much smoother. And if I have any symptomatic setbacks to scale it back, but if I feel OK to gradually increase it. But baby steps are the key.

      1. Hi Jack.
        Thanks for posting.
        As I write I am not “having a dissection” as the CT scan is not showing any dissected artery now 4,5 months after my incident. This is why I am cleared for training. As I understand it the arteries normally heal by themselves in 3-6 months in most cases. However many patients still rapport headpain/-aches in the (previous) affected area for even longer time even sometimes years after. If anybody has this experience I would like to hear about it – also if activity/sport has worsen their symptoms? Thanks in advance. I am wishing all a speedy recovery.

        1. Hi Niels:

          That is great news on the recovery.

          I am 1 year and 18 months out of a cerebellum and brain stem bleed and I also had a clot on my basil artery. I also had a VAD on the right which was probably caused by the clot in the basilar artery. My problem is walking and my balance, which are getting better but not fully recovered. If you have any hints to recovery I will be very grateful. I work out in the gym 3 times a week and do physio exercises every day. I swim 3 times a week. Thanks, lisa

          1. Hi all,
            Great to hear that you are all making great progress. I had a VAD and brain stem stroke in August and still having slight problems with balance, voice and tremor in left arm. My artery has still only healed by 50%. I am seeing a SALT and doing pilates which is greatly helping. I am a physio so have been doing my own exercise programme too – I would suggest for those of you who have been saying balance is a problem that pilates or seeing a physio might be beneficial – at least asking their advice as to whether they feel they can help.
            Happy Christmas and New Year to you all – keep posting as it is so great and reassuring to see how people are progressing and doing so well!

          2. Sorry me again! Just thought that some of you may not know what SALT stands for – it stands for speech and language therapist!

  28. Dear Friends, I had a VAD in march 2013, and It has totally resolved now. part of my right cerebellum was affected and my balance was the only thing affected. I had problems mentioning my balance and he more activities I did the sober I recovered. I am perfectly normal and I am playing soccer with no balance issues. I started playing soccer one month after my stroke and I had difficulty with balance in the beginning . I was told than in 6 month you may not even realize that you have had a VAD. Now I play soccer or ride my motorcycle perfectly without any balance issue. However there is one problem that I hope someone can help me with. I am a practicing dentists and when i bend my head to the right to look in the patient’s mouth, I experience a brief moment of incoordination when I lift my head. The problem is that I am afraid that when I get older I will have balance issues. It is so minor that no one but me can notice this. How can I get my coordination back 100 percent??. I believe that My balance and coordination is 93-94 percent of what it should be and it is the only thing in life that I wasn’t to get back now.

    Hope you all continue to enjoy good health

  29. Thanks guys.i took a week off work and went back as I could feel myself sinking into depression.i think it’s the best thing for me to take my mind off it.my neck still aches and feel full of tension.no pain just tension.6 months can’t come quick enough for me to have another mri.although my neurologist has said mri will always show a trauma even if it’s healed.im still getting headaches and am bruising so easy with the asprin.

  30. Have (did) any of you exercised during your recovery? I was running a lot before the dissection. But since it I haven’t done anything, and don’t really want to be totally inactive through the entire recovery period.

    Is it safe to do some light cardio? Jogging, or maybe the stationary bike? And when is it safe to do so?

    1. Hi all,
      Just wanted to give an update as I think it would help all the new people in their recovery. I had a VAD on March 1 with no stroke. Prior to this I was healthy 50 year old who had a VAD from extended my hair back in the sink at a hair salon. Won’t be doing that ever again.. Now I lean forward over the sink. It has been 9 months now. The first 4 months I had bad headaches along with head pressure , cloudy, foggy, and dizziness . Was treated with Coumadin and aspirin. Took nothing for the pain except tylenol. I did nothing for 3 months but rest, needed to sleep propped up with 2 pillows. I just walked around the block twice a day. I wasn’t allowed to go on a 3 hr car ride until 2 months. At 3 months I started a 2 mile walk daily at a slow pace. Finally at 5 months went back to work even though I had daily headaches and pressure but nothing like the first 4 months. Would take either Tylenol, Motrin or Fiorcet. Now at 9 months I still have daily headaches. It’s my new norm. I only take an occasional Tylenol,or Motrin. I try to get plenty of sleep and keep myself hydrated. I walk 2 miles daily now at a quick pace if weather permits or ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes. I m very careful with my neck. Still get nervous with any pain or any weird sensation in my neck. . Would love to lift weights again and do Pilates but it’s too risky as it affects the neck. I’m just grateful everyday now and try not to get stressed out.

  31. What meds are you (or did you) taking for headache or head pressure? My symptoms are more pressure in my head and dizziness. My Neurologist gave me Amitriptyline but it made me more dizzy. Then I tried Nortriptyline but had trouble sleeping on it. Now she wants me to try Depakote. But after reading the side effects, I’m scared to take it.

    What’s worked best for you all?

    1. Hi. I am on Amitriptyline and Lamotrigine. I have just started reducing the lamotrigine as it was reducing my cognitive function (memory and word retrieval) as the consultant felt it was more the medication making it poor rather than the stroke. I was initially put on another drug but the side effects seemed dreadful when I read them and the Lamotrigine did not appear as bad. I certainly seem better and the medication appears to be working as it does stop the migraine/headache pain but I still get numbness of the left side of the face and shaking arm at times which is thought to be part of the migraine rather than the stroke. Hope that helps.

    2. I am 14 months post vad and stroke and I’ve been on Lyrica for the past year. Very few side effects, one of which has been weight gain. I can’t say appreciate that but can deal with it. 🙂
      I don’t know if it works for everyone but it really diminished the nerve pain for me. All other pain seems to be muscular for me because I am still so guarded, but not taking meds for that piece.

      1. So Shannon… You still have symptoms 14 months later? Have they subsided at all, and if so how quickly did you start feeling better? I was just diagnosed a couple weeks ago, so I’m anxious to start getting better.

        1. Hi Jack,
          Sorry if i worried you. It sounds like, from most posts, the pain doesn’t stick around this long.
          I do still have it, but my neuro thinks most is muscular. I tried a few times in the last 6 months to wean myself off of the lyrica but after about 2.5 wks I’d feel the pain in the back of my head and over my ear again ao I went back on. The pain isn’t unbearable but psychologically I kept thinking it was happening all over again so the stress wasn’t worth it. Since lyrica isn’t habit forming and fibromyalgia patients stay on for years, my doc said to stop pushing it until I can get off of it with no pain.
          I hope that helps!

  32. I’m a 33 year old female who had a tia 2 weeks ago.i had been suffering neck pain to the point I couldn’t move my neck.went to my gp who didn’t even look at my neck just assumed it was a pulled muscle.i did have 1 major headache which was all in the back of my head with vomiting.3 weeks later I had the tia.i lost all movement in my right side including speech.headache and horrendous screeching.when I 1st got to a&e they treated me for a migraine.at a&e I had severe vomiting n sweating along with the stroke symptoms. The day after I had severe vertigo and sickness and couldn’t lift my head.after a mri I was told I had twisted the artery in the back of my neck causing it to be inflamed.resulting I’m blood not passing through just clotting n breaking off.ive been told 3 to 6 months healing time and in meantime I’m on asprin to thin the blood.im absolutely petrified of it happening again or even suffering a full blown stroke.im afraid to lift my 2 year old or even move.now and again I still get slight numbness in my arm.but no other effects from the tia just anxiety n tiredness.

    1. So sorry to hear about your situation Kelly. I know it’s scary. I’m currently recovering from VAD, and I can testify that the anxiety makes the experience many times worse. All I can recommend is to take hope that it WILL get better with time… The experiences on this site are a testimony to that. Find ways to take your mind off of it, and try to stay positive. Sometimes that’s impossible to do, but when I am able to do it, I feel a million times better.

    2. Very similar to my experience, mine was a full stroke. As already said, it takes time and will get better altho I must admit the odd worry does still pop into my head 6 years on. I’ve had 2 babies since the stroke
      and have just started playing netball which makes me feel great. And last week I suddenly got sensation back in my foot that I lost due to stroke! Please rest, relax, enjoy your 2 year old, and things will get better.

      1. Hi Sarah it was really nice reading your story and I am encouraged. I am 31 years had stroke on Left PCA because of Bi VAD on February 1, 2016. I still have stiffness on right side and a little problem with my eyesight. I am planning for a baby just wanted to know from you how safe it is? Whether you experienced stiffness in the body after stroke? How much time it took for the stiffness to go? Thanks

    3. You sound you are making good progress. I had mine in August and like you they thought it was just migraines and took several days to realise it was a VAD. I am still getting tired easily and my GP has said that she would think that will remain for a few more months. I think everyone is anxious after which is only to be expected. I am still on medication for the migraines which I still have especially when I am tired and then my speech becomes very husky and I have word retrieval problems. I guess it depends if you had a stroke and what part of the brain was affected. everyone seems to have had something slightly different. Good luck, take it easy and rest and enjoy your little one

  33. Hello everyone,

    It is great to hear everyone’s success stories. I was diagnosed with VAD (no stroke) just yesterday, after weeks of head pressure and dizziness. Now I am taking Plavix and Aspirin and taking it easy.

    Question: How long did it take your symptoms to subside? And how long did a full recovery take?

    1. For me (see my earlier posts) it took a couple of weeks – a lot of it I think was psychological; It was hard to relax my neck muscles and start to turn my head normally again. I still took it very easy and didn’t push it too much until 6 weeks (the normal healing time for most parts of the vascular system within the body, 6 weeks is also used as a general healing time for surgery too). I did find that wearing a soft neck brace helped me relax and stopped the pain – that might be worth a shot.

    2. Thanks Peter! I think a lot of my symptoms are psychological too, as I’ve been pretty anxious about all of this.

      This probably a dumb question, but is there any hard laying on the back of my neck or head, since I understand that’s where the dissection is, and therefore doing so would be putting pressure on it? What other precautions did you take?

      1. I know exactly what you mean, every twinge, headache or hint of any pins and needles or numbness starts to freak you out. I couldn’t say for certain what would be likely to cause more harm but can only speak from my experience; the vertebral arteries actually run up inside your cervical (neck) bones – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertebral_artery – so they are mostly protected from any pressure on your neck from the outside (unlike your carotid arteries in the front of your neck for example, which are exposed and at the front). Personally I would try and avoid anything that would result in any major neck movements, try and reduce sudden movement, and definitely avoid hyperextension (moving past a comfortable range). This is what I did and gradually began to relax more as time went on. After 3 months I resumed all normal activities.

        Do you have any suggestion or any events that are thought to have caused the VAD initially?

        1. We don’t know for sure, but a little 2 and a half months ago I started seeing a chiropractor (including neck adjustments), and developed a bad cough where I was coughing pretty hard to get mucous up. We suspect either or both of those were the cause.

          Another strange symptom is that I’ve been losing weight unintentionally the last couple weeks. DR’s couldn’t find anything to cause that, so it may just be due to anxiety and not feeling well. Any idea if that’s a symptom of VAD?

  34. I’m a 44 yr old wife and mother to 2 sets of twin boys. Just within this past year i completely changed my workout and training routine adding crossfit and running and i really felt i was just about getting into the best shape of my life. I knew i was pretty hard on my body, got some pain in my jaw kind of by my ear. Thought from all the recent running i was ” out of wack” and even thought i really dislike them, i figured quickest fix………cervical adjustment. 10 seconds after my adjustment its like a gun went off in my head. Its black. I collapse. Im in pain. Sweating. When i could see the floor was shuffling. it was so scary i remember thinking ” is this what dieing is?” When the chiro got me off the floor it was like i was drunk? Hungover? In severe slow motion!? All of the above. He kept saying i was stressed and it was my sugar. After a half hour i knew i wasnt right so i said call my husband. He got me, we went to med express, they said you have vertigo even after all i told them. Went home and slept! A LOT!!!!! headaches. Went to family doc 4 days later. She did tests. Ordered MRI mentioned the word stroke. 3 days later before scheduled MRI my dad took me to ER. Had ct. They see dissection and spot on cerebellum. I’m being transported and hour and a half away to a vascular and neuro surgeon. Had a VAD. And stroke. Praise god no stint. End of long story. This happened on Aug 21. It’s now Nov 9. I go back for 3 month check up at end of the month. Im on a restricted lifestyle. Nothing that elevates my heartrate. It’s extremely frustrating but praise got its only temporary. I was completely fine until my adjustment!?!?!?!? Anyone ever hear of this? they say a 6 mos recovery. Trying not to live in panic mode but somedays it’s a challenge. Having neck pains and a loopy feeling on top of fatigue! But bigger picture……im alive and thankful!

  35. Just to say it’s good to see lots of positive stories here. I had a VAD and stroke 6 years ago, no specific cause identified. I returned to work after 5 months and since had 2 children, and am about to start playing netball again.

  36. I had a unilateral VAD on April 10, 2014. I have had two follow-up MRI/MRAs and they show continued reduction of blood flow in the right vertebral artery. I have been on Coumadin since the event and now want to switch over to nattokinase. Does anyone have any experience with this, both in terms of how they switched without complications and if they had improvement in arterial function on nattokinase?
    There is no solid research to show efficacy in either Coumadin or nattokinase for VADs.

  37. I am a 45 year old healthy women. I had a left sided VAD about one week after my husband and children and I had visited Six Flags in Chicago. I felt tired after the roller coaster ride and an odd sense of smell inside my sinus area, although not until the next night. The week after we got home and got up that morning to get our children ready for school, I had a weird brown spot move accross my vision on the left side. When I proceeded to walk, my body was being forced to the right and was extremely dizzy. My husband thought just I was tired, I began to pray Gods Word over my self. I knew something was very wrong. I started throwing up violently and it persisted. I started to see white dots everywhere and was becoming severly dehidrated. We finally called and ambulance and the vomiting persisted and I could not physically get my body off of the floor.

    The ambulance took me to the nearest hospital. The admittance secretary and the nurse that was assigned to me, couldn’t have been more…..uncaring and unconcerned. After being there for six hours and one CT scan, the doctor on staff attributed my sickness to vertigo. I was sent home w, an anti nauseau medicine and a vertigo drug. I was able to rest that night.

    The next morning before I opened my eyes, I got a strange sensation of a black sphere type zooming into my head. I opened my eyes and tried to hold myself up with my hands/arms. I was strongly pulled down onto the bed on my left side. I started throwing up violently again side ways, not having the ability to lift my head off of the bed. As I looked up the ceiling was on the floor, the room was scanning and not in correct position. My husband grabbed a cold cloth to put around my neck. He encouraged me to calm down, and that it would pass. After all I had medicine and had already been diagnosed with vertigo. (Incorrectly) After two full days of this, I could no longer sustain. That Sunday night, I called an ENT that my sister had recommended and she was amazing. Stated this does not sound like vertigo. Set up an appointment in her office the next day. After testing, she got very serious, which totally took me aback. She had me admitted immediatley. Her reasoning was my left eye was not tracking, AT ALL. She set up an MRI. After results, she stated she truly thought it was a brain tumor, or MS.

    My husband had asked her if I had had a minor stroke. She said that there was nothing minor about it. I had a major stroke, and that I was one heart beat away from death. After the Cardioligist, Vascular Surgeon and Neurologist did the exams, they found it to be a VAD. They attribute it to roller coaster ride at Six Flags. They also stated that what ever stopped the blood from clotting, took care of itself at home. Hallelujah! I know my God and my faith in His Word!

    It has been about seven weeks. I still have therapy twice a week. As well I see an optomitrist for the palsy on the sixth nerve in my left eye. I know I will come into complete healing. It will just take time.

    Thank you for bringing in the importance for an MRA. I have not been advised of this, but will be asking for it.

    The doctor care I received at the other hospital was amazing. I will always be greatful to those professionals that let their human compassion flow through.

    I have heard on numerous occasions that excercise after is very beneficial. I will definately head this advice. As well as choose Life!

    Blessings to you all! Thank you for sharing your heart and benefits of wisdom and action to a healthy long life after VAD.

  38. I just suffered a VAD this past Saturday and am now home from the hospital recovering. I have a 90% blockage in the vertebral artery which may need a stent. I am 27 years old, a special ed teacher, and currently on medical leave which I heal from this.

    For anyone that has had a VAD, how do you cope with the residual neck pain? Almost a week later, I still feel like I can barely move my neck. I would appreciate any advice on what to do in the immediate aftermath of a VAD.

    1. Hi Kerri,

      I had neck pain reducing my range of motion to barely 45 degrees in the week before I was diagnosed, this subsided after a week or so. I wore a soft neck brace for a few days to allow my neck muscles to relax – them cramping up was causing most of the pain, which I believe may be a natural reaction by the body to restrict movement and promote healing. It took a while to convince myself to relax and start to move my neck normally again, so probably very much a mental thing as well as physical.

      Are you on medication to avoid clots? I had a reasonable restriction in one of my arteries and a small one in the other – I have a follow up on the 2nd Oct, after which I will update my original post to this blog

      1. Yes I also had neck pain before the diagnosis and it resolved after about 10 days to 2 weeks. I have to say I was quite wary of moving my neck for a while in case I did more damage. However, I seem to be able to move it quite well now. My consultant didnt want me to drive for 4 weeks because of the turning of the head and risk of an accident causing a whiplash. i am also not allowed to swim until the MRI scan shows its healing due to the flexion and extension movements of the neck. I am having my follow up scan next week and am hoping that it shows it is healing. I however, still get migraines but not sure if that is due to the fact that I have had to run around alot and have a lot of stress at the moment as unfortunately my father died last week. I will let you know my results – fingers crossed the VAD is healing!

    2. I have had neck tension and pain for years. I have relieved it with sometimes aggressive massage, chiropractic, yoga and stretching with varying results. Now that I have a VAD, possibly caused by one/some of treatments, I have had to, at least, interrupt and in some cases, eliminate every one of these treatments. While I was still unable to do any of them, I turned to acupuncture, that I was, thankfully, able to get through my HMO plan, but only for 12 treatments. It has been so perfect for the “VAD recovery” level of activity that I was at for 8 months, that now that I am able to do more of these other ones again, I am going to definitely find an alternative acupuncture place and continue with it even though I have to pay out-of-pocket. It felt really nice the way the needles would clear the pain and would last for days.

  39. Cheers Cassie – I saw that you had written that you had been cleared for all activity which is great news. Did your neurologist clear you immediately or after a few weeks/months? I’ve been out walking and I don’t feel sick, just a bit nervous because of the visual defect. Don’t know how running will be though… My mum has ripped up the race number for the half marathon I was supposed to be doing tomorrow so I won’t be tempted! Working out on a treadmill sounds like a good idea, maybe safer than going out on the roads at the moment. Hope it goes well for you and your dizziness improves. Thanks for your message, Nx

    1. Naomi – sorry for the late reply. My neurologist cleared me pretty much as soon as I left the hospital. (I was there for four days.) I then met with him about a week and a half after that. Interested in how you feel when you start jogging! For me and how my stroke affected me it just seems like a lot of retraining, so I think I just have to do it and the awkwardness/sick feeling will start to go away. I’m sure you’ll be back out there jogging soon!

  40. Thanks Michele. I guess I will just take it easy, and maybe do some exercises like you. It’s so frustrating! However, I do realise how lucky I am to be in a position where I want to go for a run already. I spent a day on a stroke ward where I was the only person who could wash and feed myself – that really put things into perspective for me… Hope your next scan goes well and you can get back to your swimming soon.

  41. Hi all,

    Great site and glad to see that most people are recovering well. I was diagnosed with a left VAD last Thursday. We are attributing it to a whiplash injury from cliff diving about three weeks ago.

    The night before the major event I woke up with left sided neck pain and had to take a painkiller, but I had had mild neck pain for about a fortnight. The next day I went to the hairdresser and as I stood up to leave I felt very light headed and nearly fell over. I felt very disorientated and then when I went to pay, I realised I couldn’t see the card machine in my left periphery. Over the next hour I developed numbness in the left side of my face and my left arm felt a bit clumsy.

    I am medical so I actually guessed I had dissected. I went to A&E and they did a CT which ruled out a bleed and showed a stroke in my temporal lobe. The MRI confirmed a left VAD the next day. I have been started on high dose aspirin for six months.

    I still have a patch missing in my peripheral vision and my face is numb, but luckily nothing else seems affected. I do have a pulling sensation over my left neck which I attribute to the dissection. They have no plans for a follow up scan at the moment.

    When did you guys get back to exercise? I was supposed to be doing a half marathon next week and in October, but I think they are off the cards but was wondering when people began jogging again? As I am not getting another scan I’m not sure how to risk assess it!

    1. Hi Naomi
      I had my VAD 5 weeks ago and I have been told that the only exercise I can do is walking until my next MRI to show that the artery is healing. I have been told to do a little more each day which I have been doing and am now up to 2 miles.
      I do leg exercises with 1KG weight in lying just to maintain strength in my legs as I have had lots of orthopaedic ops on my knees for recurrent dislocation. My left arm and leg were affected initially although the strength has returned . I am a physio so I have to practice what I preach! I am not a runner but I normally swim 3 -4 times a week so cant wait to get back to that!
      Hope that helps. all the best Michele

    2. Hi Naomi. I had my VAD and two strokes mid July, and my neuro cleared me for all activity as I feel comfortable. (I am also just on high does aspirin.) I’m feeling kind of the same though, and I would love to start jogging as well. I just had a baby, and it’s how I’ve always gotten back to a healthy weight (and good stress relief) 🙂 When I jog (chasing after my kids) in short spans I start to feel really dizzy. Even walking fast with my husband through the store or something is not the easiest. I have been planning on starting some fast uphill walking workouts on the treadmill this week and see how it goes. I feel like it will just take getting used to, so I just need to do it. I would imagine with your lack in peripheral vision it might be hard not to feel sick when running? Hope you feel more like your self soon and can get back to running! (My husband is doing a 1/2 marathon tomorrow! :))

  42. Wow, what an amazing read !
    I’m 36 and healthy but had a vad 5 days ago during a game of cricket. So far I have most of my physical skills back but am suffering from head/neck aches and am very lathargic. It’s great to read so many positive recovery stories as I’m very worried about the future!
    I hope hope the headaches go soon and that I can resume a normal life.

    Thanks

    Bob

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