Affiliated: What is moyamoya disease? | Cerebrovascular Program
The Story of Jennifer
My name is Jennifer. I'm 29, originally from Whittier, Ca and now live in Belmont Shore, Ca. I have two wonderfully supportive parents, Frank and Debbie and a hilarious younger brother, Matthew. Most recently I have worked in Hollywood as an Event Manager for an entertainment marketing and promotions agency. In my free time I have always enjoyed reading, writing and travel overseas. I have toured 23 different countries so far!
In July of 2008 I began to experience sudden and unexplained numbness in my left hand. Two weeks later I awoke in the middle of the night with a piercing headache, like somebody was stabbing me in the skull with an ice pick. As quick as I was to brush it off, I went to my doctor just in case. He ordered an MRI as a safety measure which showed a few peculiar things. Within a week I started getting more bad headaches coupled with numbness up and down the left side of my body. This warranted a visit to a neurologist.
I began to see a neurologist in Long Beach and he ordered several tests and blood work to determine the cause, thinking I may have developed severe migraines. Once those results came in he concluded that I was a very "complicated" case and that I should see a specialist at UCLA.
I soon learned that it was a stroke specialist I was sent to see, Dr. Liebeskind. So, once again a vast amount of tests and blood work were ordered, but this time they paid off. The tests confirmed that I did in fact have a stroke and it was due to a rare neurological vascular disease called Moyamoya Disease. I soon learned this is a progressive disease that causes the carotid arteries to occlude (narrow) causing a lack of blood flow to the brain. The next step was to have a Cerebral Angiogram to get a better picture of how far along the Moyamoya had progressed in me and then meet with a neurosurgeon to review my surgical options.
I was evaluated by Dr. Nestor Gonzalez. I could not have been happier to have him as my surgeon. He is clearly so brilliant and gifted within his field. But moreover, he is kind and warm and it has been a great pleasure to be under his care.
The specific type of surgery chosen for me was the EDAS surgery along with a Bur Hole on each side. The left side was done first, on 12/20/08 and the right side on 1/12/09. Normally more time is given between surgeries, but unfortunately new & severe symptoms presented from the other side within days after the first surgery and Dr. Gonzalez thought it best not to wait.
Recovery from two brain surgeries in three weeks was difficult at first, but always felt that I was in the best care possible. Once I was home I was lucky to have the support, encouragement and love of my family. The first 2-3 weeks were the hardest as I had to adjust to not being able to do much for myself though normally I am a pretty independent person. Not being able to wet my hair in the shower wasn't fun and even looking in the mirror to see so many staples and stitches was a shock. But at the end of the day I was just so appreciative to be alive and make it though not just one, but TWO brain surgeries so successfully.
Post-surgical follow-up visits have all gone very well and Dr. Gonzalez has continued to be happy with my progress. It has now been 6 ½ months since the last surgery and I'm doing great. I still see Dr. Liebeskind in Neurology and he has helped manage the headaches I still occasionally get, though there has been a vast improvement since the surgeries. I have also just seen Dr. Gonzalez for my 6-month post-surgical Cerebral Angiogram and according to him he could not be more please with the results! This of course makes me so very happy to hear as well.
Never did I think I would be going though anything like this; I've always been a pretty healthy person-not even a broken bone! But it's an experience I chose to be grateful for: grateful that I've had such amazing doctors and nurses, grateful that I got to stay at a state-of-the-art hospital, grateful I've had a loving family to be by my side and get me through this and grateful for a new outlook on life. Trust me, there's nothing like a few brain surgeries to remind you what is really important in the world! :)
Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. Please don't take your health for granted!