If you have been following, you know I had a health scare over the holidays. I was diagnosed with a TIA (mini-stroke) which is like a small earthquake signaling that a bigger quake may follow. After the episode, I went through denial. Like a tiny earthquake, a TIA leaves no damage behind. So, there is no definitive test that can prove that I had one. I came up with theories of other things it could have been, such as a pinched nerve. My neurologist was sure I had experienced a TIA and proved that it was not a pinched nerve due to the different symptoms (pinched nerves involve pain and last much longer than TIA symptoms). My hematologist (who I met in my hospital stay) told me that sometimes there is a connection between a hole in your heart (PFO), a history of migraine headaches (like mine) and TIA’s or strokes.
I followed up with a cardiologist and he wanted to rule that out by doing a bubble echo-cardiogram, where bubbles are injected through an IV and observed as they go to the heart. The top two chambers of the heart are not supposed to communicate so the bubbles should not pass from one side to the other. My bubbles went flying from one side to the other without hesitation, confirming I have a hole. Apparently about 1 in 5 people have a PFO and most do not know it unless they have a problem and a doctor orders an echo-cardiogram. We all start with an opening between the chambers which, for most people closes while they are infants. If it does not
close, it is called a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). If there is a blood
clot that misses the normal filtration system (due to a PFO), it can go
to the brain causing a TIA or stroke. The next step for me is a
transesophogeal echo-cardiogram where I will be under anesthesia while a camera is lowered through my
mouth into my esophagus to get a better view of my heart and find out
more about the extent of the problem.