The Doctor Told Me I Had a Brain Aneurysm

Lucky for me he was wrong but there were other issues.

Laurie b. Frankel
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readDec 22, 2023

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The neurologist broke the news. “You have an aneurysm,” he said. He didn’t say, maybe, and pointed to a dark spot on the film.

An aneurysm is an arterial balloon-like bulge caused by a weakening of the artery wall.

What played in my head was, Grandma-the-Clown is being inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame, because I’d heard it on the radio that morning followed by, An aneurysm, I knew it! and presented the doctor with a greeting card, one from my own collection which was being test-marketed. We had chit-chatted about it during my in-take appointment. He suggested I bring a card to the follow-up, this meeting, so I did.

He said, “You have an aneurysm.” I handed him a card.

The card showed a line drawing of a dog and a cat on a cliff with several dead cats in the valley below. The headline read: Nine, my ass. You’ve got at least fifteen. Go on, it’s fun!

The doctor opened the card. It was blank inside. He looked up and smiled. It was clear he didn’t get it. I smiled, too, then I thought, there’s something wrong with my brain.

I’ve had migraines since age ten. My mother’s father died of a brain tumor when she was ten — they took him away and that was that. She never saw him again. Three years later her mother died.

Children who had a parent die suddenly have three times the risk of depression along with an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.

I was ten, she was ten. I like coincidences like that and have always had an odd, romantic notion I would die from something brain related, too. Given the frequency and severity of my headaches well into adulthood my father, an occasional hypochondriac, thought I should get my head checked. Not a terrible idea, as he would say. That was before I learned the CDC’s death statistics on voluntary hospitalization.

The neurologist handed me a number to call to schedule an angiogram.

An angiogram is an x-ray test that uses a special dye and camera to take pictures of how blood flows through the brain.

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Laurie b. Frankel
Human Parts

Writer, video artist, trash pickr uppr, dog influencr, art lovr. Amazon "Frankel Pattern Here" "funny...practical suggestions.” Kirkus Review lauriebfrankel.com