Her “migraine” turned out to be an AVM

Chantal Poole’s story: “It could have been fatal”

Chantal and daughter side by side

After a diagnosis of AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, Chantal Poole underwent urgent surgeries. Today, she is working and living life to the fullest as a mother to her five-year-old daughter.

An AVM, or arteriovenous malformation, is not something 18-year-olds usually worry about. But one day Chantal Poole, who had suffered from migraines since she was 13, had what she thought was the worst migraine of her life. It turned out to be a brain AVM that had caused a bleeding in her brain.

An AVM is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels that have a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels. AVMs can occur anywhere in the body.

“That day at work I had a totally different pain,” Chantal says, “It was so bad that I lost vision in my right eye and I became weak. When I got off from work I had to sit in the lobby until my mother came and got me. I couldn’t drive because I couldn’t see.”   Continue reading

Stroke and sleep apnea: Strange bed partners

Stroke and sleep apnea manStroke researchers now know that sleep apnea is very common after stroke. We have found that about 75% of stroke patients have sleep apnea. This is important because sleep apnea has wide-ranging consequences for stroke patients.

Why it’s important for sleep apnea to be diagnosed in stroke patients

Sleep apnea is a predictor of poor outcomes following stroke, such as greater disability and higher mortality. The exact reasons for this are unknown at this time and warrant further study.

In addition, it is possible that sleep apnea contributes to increased stroke risk by promoting atherosclerosis, hyper coagulability (an abnormally increased tendency for the blood to clot) and adverse effects on cerebral hemodynamics (the forces involved in the circulation of blood in the brain).  Continue reading

Surviving brain tumor

Patient Donell Hall

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Patient Donell Hall on the job 6 months after brain tumor surgery

Imagine having one of the worst migraine headaches of your life while you’re driving to work, pulling over to call 911 and then waking up to find yourself in a hospital, awaiting emergency brain tumor surgery.

That was what happened to Donell Hall in November 2014.

Since the age of 14, the TV/video/broadcast producer had recurrent massive headaches. Every headache rendered him temporarily unable to speak clearly, which he thought was a side effect of a bad migraine.

But on that day in November everything changed. As Hall was being prepared for surgery to remove what turned out to be a brain tumor, he met Dr. Shawn Hervey-Jumper and some of the other Functional Wellness team members.  Continue reading

Art and biology come together in U-M illustrator’s medical images

Along with the latest high-tech tools and procedures, the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan Health System also depends on one talented woman with a pencil.

Megan Foldenauer, Ph.D., a certified medical illustrator (CMI), was recently featured in the news for her work as a UMHS medical illustrator.

An aneurysm image by U-M Medical Illustrator Megan Foldenauer, from the Department of Neurosurgery.

An aneurysm image by U-M Medical Illustrator Megan Foldenauer, from the Department of Neurosurgery.

“There’s an art to taking a photograph and then reducing it to its essential components,” she told Local 4 News in a July segment about the continued relevance of low-tech medical sketches.

Foldenauer was studying biology as a high school senior when a teacher explained that her talent for illustrating her lab reports might turn into more than a hobby. She continued to study science, along with art, so she’d be able to illustrate the most important parts of medical images. Foldenauer’s pieces aid understanding that a complex photograph tends to muddle.

“Part of what I do is to offer that kind of visualization of that information for patients so that they can learn about their body,” Foldenauer told Local 4 News.

Continue reading