On Getting a Cranial Angiogram


I have migraines. I have talked about them before.

I have had a migraine for over 2 months. I have gone to the ER several times in that time frame. I have gone to Urgent Care and my doc several times. It has sucked. Bad. Pain wears you down. It just does.

I have been seeing a new pain management doctor. (I fired my neurologist after he did absolutely nothing to help the migraines and then called me a drug addict.) He gave me 2 things that have helped a little. He also gave me an appointment to do Botox next week. I waited 3 months to get in to see him and I also waited another month to get in for the injections.

I am hoping beyond hope that this will be the thing that helps. Honestly at this point if someone told me walking on coals or being hit in the head with mangoes would help I’d give it a shot. Pretty sad when you get desperate to feel normal. Or even just free of pain.

HOWEVER – at my last ER visit they decided to do an MRI to make sure I wasn’t having a stroke or something. Usually they just treat and release because we have done so many tests. BUT they felt they needed to look since it’s been so long with this particular migraine.

On the MRI there were some abnormalities in both my arteries and my white matter. The abnormalities in white matter can be numerous things. But the abnormalities in arteries can be serious.

SO, my PCP sent me to a Rheumatologist. She did a whole bunch of blood work and scheduled me for a cranial angiogram. Not wanting to go through that if it wasn’t necessary, I asked, “Do you think this is really necessary?” She said if it was her she would do it. Because the biggest thing we wanted to rule out – vasculitis – is very serious and deadly and has to be treated right away with serious meds. Ah. So calming.

SO, on Tuesday I had a cranial angiogram. Basically they start at your femoral artery. They poke a giant hole in it with a giant catheter and then run that all the way up your body IN YOUR ARTERIES to your neck. (Ok, the doc said the catheter is really smaller than the ink refill on a ball point pen. But it feels bigger.) The upper part of your neck. LUCKILY they don’t stick it in your brain like I thought they did. THEN they push some dye into your brain and they take pictures of it with a fluoroscope. I was very happy that this particular doctor believed in pain killers during the procedure and sedation. I wouldn’t have argued about having some pain killers after, but you take what you can get. I hear that some places you have to demand sedation. I wasn’t totally under. I remember a lot of it – and I remember what it felt like to have that dye in my brain. Which was hot and full and uncomfortable.

The nurse said I was a perfect patient. I don’t think anyone ever said that before. So that’s good.

When the procedure is done you have to lay flat for 3 hours and then you can sit up for 1. You can’t stand up, even to pee apparently, until that 4 hours is over. They send you home with instructions to lie down the rest of the day and take it easy for a few days.

*Apparently* so you don’t bleed to death. I mean, it is the femoral artery. It only takes a couple minutes to bleed to death from it.

When we were done the male nurse put pressure on my wound for 20 min. And I mean REAL pressure. I am not sure I could put that much pressure on someone for long if they were bleeding to death. Then the nurse checked it every 15 min or so. Then my husband was told to check it every hour at home until bedtime. These people are SERIOUS.

What they don’t tell you: It’s not the most pleasant thing, but with the miracle of modern drugs it’s not so bad either. You will bruise. Badly. Ice helps. If you don’t have a partner or friend willing to look at your privates and make sure you aren’t bleeding to death, get a good hand mirror ahead of time and have it handy – cause it’s not that easy to really get a good look down there. It’s hard to eat lying perfectly flat. However since you didn’t get to eat the previous 13 hours or so, you will want to. I did get grilled cheese, fries, and a drink with a straw to work. And my husband “lovingly” fed me dessert. Which I didn’t need. But it sure made me feel good.

Bottom line: The angiogram was clean. Which made me feel like we did it all for nothing. And kind of violated in a way. Which all procedures seem to make me feel since my big medical battle. But that’s a story for a later date.


2 thoughts on “On Getting a Cranial Angiogram

  1. Clean! Good! Sorry the whole thing was so miserable 😦 I’m pretty sure you should move right in between Sara and I so we can take care of you and Alex during things like this! Pleasant Grove is good middle ground….. 😉

    • That would be awesome. Alex would love to live next to his cousins, and I would love to live next to all of you. Too bad things like jobs and stuff get in the way.

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