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


Screenshot from publicity video for BLUESTAR® Forensic, the most effective blood reagent for use at crime scenes or in the laboratory.

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.



Laurie b. Frankel
Human Parts

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