Tonya was an avid runner and ran every chance she could. A few years ago, whenever she ran, Tonya would develop blinding headaches. Tonya’s headaches became debilitating, leading to blurred vision that would most affect her mid-race. Tonya ran race after race feeling sick,but after one in particular, she went to bed and could not get up the next day. As a mother to a young child, it was then that she called her doctor and requested to see a neurologist.
At Tonya’s initial neurology appointment, the doctor misread her symptoms as dehydration, and mentioned his wife was a runner who also suffered from consistent headaches. Tonya pressed her doctor for an MRI. Two hours later, Tonya received a call that they found something in her brain. She had no idea what to expect, let alone a brain aneurysm.
After the call, Tonya met with Dr. Jay Morrow, a neuro interventional and interventional neurologist at Metro Health Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan ,who specializes in brain aneurysms. He talked to her about a device that treated brain aneurysms called the Pipeline™ Flex embolization device (Pipeline™). During the procedure, Pipeline goes through the groin and diverts the flow away from the aneurysm neck, reconstructing the parent artery and restoring its natural course.1,2
After Tonya’s initial surgery was unsuccessful, she was able to try the Pipeline procedure two months later. The second surgery worked. The doctors discovered three additional aneurysms and implanted 12 Pipeline devices in Tonya’s brain. Following this procedure, Tonya went in for three more angiograms, starting in June 2017, each one showed the brain aneurysms were shrinking, until they completely disappeared in January 2018. Tonya was finally clear of her aneurysms. Her doctors told her the aneurysms had been with her for a long time, even during the birth of her daughter, yet she survived.
Tonya has fully resumed all activities. She did not think she would ever enjoy her favorite hobby of running again because it triggered trauma and fear, reminding her of the aneurysm.
Above all else, Tonya is grateful she can watch her daughter grow up. Tonya’s daughter was three years old at the time of Tonya’s initial scan, and still remembers her mother’s experience. To Tonya, showing her daughter how to be brave and get through anything is what made her strong.
Tonya says she hopes her story will encourage others who feel something is not right to seek the medical attention and help they need. Because of her experience, Tonya now appreciates the small things in life more than ever, and her relationship with her husband, Brad, has only become stronger because of her increased faith and gratitude.
Becske T. et al., Pipeline for Uncoilable or Failed Aneurysms. Results from a Multicenter Clinical Trial. Radiology. Published online Feb 15, 2013
Kallmes, DF et al. International Retrospective Study of the Pipeline Embolization Device: A Multicenter Aneurysm Treatment Study, AJNR Published online, Oct 29, 2014