Karen Lowry's Cavernous Angioma Story


From:"Karen Lowry" klowry@charter.net
Sent: July 1, 2003

Six weeks after having a miscarriage, I awoke one morning with extreme dizziness and nausea.  It was 1989 and I was 27 yrs. old. I was diagnosed as having two inner ear infections and was sent home with prescriptions for Phenergan, Antivert and an antibiotic.  Once the meds were gone and the symptoms remained, I was seen by a neurologist who admitted me into a local hospital. He believed I could possibly have M. S., a brain infection or a brain tumor. This was when I had my first MRI. After eight days of being in the hospital, I felt perfectly normal and was ready to go home. I was told I probably had had a small stroke which would not ever occur, again.

About six months later, I awoke one morning to discover my left arm felt weak and numb. The right side of my face was drawn [Bell's Palsy] and my right eye was turned inward, a little. I refused to be taken to another dr. and after a few weeks, everything seemed to 'come back.'

During the summer of '91, I had two months of extreme nausea and dizziness. I stayed flat on my back and again refused to be seen by a doctor.

About six months later, my right eye turned inward, again. This time, under protest, I was seen by a local opthamologist.  He referred me to a neurologst who put me in the hospital.   This time, a neurosurgeon examined the results of a second MRI and gave me the news that I would need brain surgery to remove a small lesion in the
middle of my brain.  He said he did not feel his skills were adequate enough to operate in such a sensitive area of the brain, so, he referred me to a teaching hospital in a much larger city.

After yet another MRI at the second hospital, a neurosurgeon told me I had something rare called a cavernous hemangioma. He said due to the small size of the cavernoma, surgery would not be a good idea.

Upon a check-up visit with him, in Feb. of '93, the neurosurgeon said the cavernous angioma should be removed within the next few months......of course, I asked if he could postpone surgery until the end of the school year. He was skeptical, but, agreed.

In April of '93, after administering achievement tests all day and after the kids had left the classroom, I became so dizzy, I lay face down, on the cold tile floor. Somehow, I managed to drive myself the ten miles home. Once there, again, under protest, I was taken to the teaching hospital and admitted. Major brain surgery to remove my cavernoma took place a fews days, later. The surgeon later said it was the size of a raisin and had been located near the pons. A nurse had me up and walking the day after surgery. For a few days, it looked as if I was going to recover completely.

A week later, on the day I was to go home, an intern came in to remove some stitches. A sudden onset of fluid in my brain [hydrocephelus] caused me to.......well, a nurse later told my family, my body completely shut down. The neurosurgeon was called in and he......put in, installed, whatever, a temporary shunt. This tube was later replaced with a permanent shunt. Sometime during all this fun, I was put into a medically induced coma which lasted three days. My family was told my body needed time to heal and recover from all the trauma.

When I awoke, the left side of my body and the right side of my face no longer worked. My right eye was turned inward and my field of vision began to continuously bounce [nystagmus]. After weeks of rehab., I regained most of the use of my left arm and leg.

Sorry this was so long! If anyone has any questions for me, please send an e-mail to: klowry@charter.net  

Karen Lowry

Btw, the Angioma Alliance website and organization is wonderful-wish they'd been around when I was first diagnosed!