Questions to Ask AFTER Surgery

Now that you are through your surgery and ready for your first post-op appointment, here are a few questions you will want to be sure and ask:

  • What possible side effects should I look for after treatment?
  • What are the signs of infection?
  • What do I do about constipation?
  • What kind of timeframe am I looking at for recovery?
  • Is it possible to completely recover from treatment of a Brain aneurysm/AVM/Stroke?
  • What activities am I allowed to do?
  • What medications am I allowed to take?
  • Am I permitted to drive?
  • Can I drink alcohol?
  • Can I have sex and when?
  • Can I dye my hair?
  • What other types of doctors do you recommend I see? Do I need to schedule an appointment with a Neurologist, Neurophysiologist, Neuropsychiatrist?
  • How can I help myself recover?
  • Who do I call if I have questions about how I am feeling?
  • Will there be any follow-up after treatment?
  • I am nervous about the hardware that will be used to treat my brain aneurysm; if I bump my head will the coils/clips come undone?
  • What is DVT (deep vein thrombosis)? What are the symptoms?
  • Am I allowed to leave the country?
  • Can I fly in an airplane?
  • Are there support groups available?

Remember that no question is a bad question – so ask whatever you need to put your mind at ease, comfort your heart and walk away feeling some sense of relief.


The Knuckle Ball…A Pitch for Life is Heading to Phoenix

Joe Niekro Foundation Knuckle Ball

On October 17th, 2015, athletes from all over the country will come together, in association with The Joe Niekro Foundation and The Society of Neuro-Interventional Surgery Foundation, to support brain aneurysmAVM and hemorrhagic stroke research and awareness, for the 6thAnnual Knuckle Ball…A Pitch for Life at the JW Marriott Resort in Phoenix, AZ.

The black-tie evening, hosted by actress and brain aneurysm survivor, Tamala Jones, will feature a festive reception, silent auction, formal dinner, event program and LIVE auction (plus a few surprises in between).  The gala is the foundation’s largest event of the year and pays tribute to those that have lost their lives to these fatal conditions, while honoring the survivors who are fighting everyday to recover.

We are proud to announce that Petrice “TC” Schuttler will be honored as the Joe Niekro Humanitarian of the Year for her outstanding commitment and contributions to the Phoenix community.  Petrice has devoted her life to improving the lives of others and we are incredibly excited to present her with this year’s award.  The Joe Niekro Foundation Medical Humanitarian of the Year recipient, Joseph Zabramski, MD will be recognized for his research and continued advancements and treatment studies of brain aneurysms, AVMs and hemorrhagic strokes.

Since her father’s tragic and sudden death as a result of a brain aneurysm, Natalie Niekro established The Joe Niekro Foundation, committed to supporting patients and families, research, and treatment of brain aneurysms, AVMs and hemorrhagic strokes. We provide education on the risk factors, causes and treatments of these conditions, while funding the advancement of neurological research.

We would be honored to have you join our efforts and look forward to welcoming you at the 6th Annual Knuckle Ball…A Pitch for Life.

For tickets and package information, visit www.joeniekrofoundation.com/events/knuckleball.


Legends of the Game Coming Together to Support JNF

Two decades of baseball champions will come together on June 11th to host World Series Legends, benefitting The Joe Niekro Foundation (JNF). Members of the 1968 and 1984 World Series Detroit Tigers will be at Motor City Casino, in Detroit, Michigan to support brain aneurysmAVM and hemorrhagic stroke research and awareness.

The evening, emceed by sports broadcaster Eli Zaret, will include a cocktail reception, strolling dinner and culminate with a panel discussion including some of the greatest legends of the game: Al Kaline, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Other Tigers guests will include Rick Leach, Scott Lusader, Dan Petry, Dave Rozema, Pat Sheridan, Jon Warden and Pio DiSalvo.

Tiger fans everywhere are invited to attend. Tickets can be purchased online here.

One Champion who will greatly be missed this year is former Tiger and JNF Chairman of the Board, Dave Bergman. Bergman lost his life this past February and to recognize him and his philanthropic efforts, a tribute will be made in his honor during the dinner. “Both Dave and Joe were great friends of mine and I am very glad to be a part of this event and honor their memory”, says Hall of Fame great Al Kaline.

After former Tiger Joe Niekro’s tragic and sudden death in 2006 as a result of a brain aneurysm, his daughter Natalie established The Joe Niekro Foundation, committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms, AVM’s and hemorrhagic strokes. The foundation strives to raise awareness about the risk factorscauses and treatments of these conditions, while helping support the advancement of neurological research.

Joe Niekro was one of the approximately 30,000 Americans to experience a brain aneurysm that bursts, usually resulting in sudden death. It is estimated that 6 million people in the US have a brain aneurysm, as many as one in 50 people, and every 18 minutes a brain aneurysm ruptures.

World Series Legends promises to be a memorable event, with some of the greatest names in baseball together in one place. The event begins at 5:30pm with a VIP Tiger Legends cocktail reception for premium ticket holders.

Tickets can be purchased at JoeNiekroFoundation.org or call 602-318-1013.


Actress Tamala Jones teams up with JNF for Brain Aneurysm Survivor Model Search

Luxury hat designer, Canada Bliss and Brain Aneurysm Survivor Tamala Jones from the ABC hit show Castle have teamed up with The Joe Niekro Foundation for The Brain Aneusym Survivor Model Search.  We are looking for brain aneurysm, AVM, and hemorrhagic stroke survivors to be featured in an upcoming national campaign for Canada Bliss.

Nearly 17 years after being diagnosed with a ruptured brain aneurysm, Tamala has made it her mission to educate children and young adults on the importance of awareness.  “If I can help one person recognize the symptoms of a brain aneurysm and get help, then I will have made a difference,” she says.  Surviving a swollen and spouted blood vessel at just 23, Jones is a prime example of this medical malfunction not just occurring in “old people.”

The search will deadline June 5, 2015 and winners will be named June 26, 2015.  Entrants must submit a 500 word or less essay about their story plus two photos.  “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Tamala, Canada Bliss and survivors across America.  This is a wonderful testament to survivors everywhere that awareness is beautiful and chic.  What an incredible day it will be when we get to witness these courageous survivors representing a platform that is so vitally important to our mission.  We are honored to be a part of this campaign,” says JNF Founder Natalie Niekro.

Contest is open to men and women 18 years and older in the US and Canada.


JNF Medical Advisory Member, Dr. Joshua Hirsch named Top Doc

May 1, 2015 5:47 p.m.

Name: Joshua A. Hirsch
Hospital Affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital
Title: Director of Interventional Neuroradiology, Co-Director of Neuroendovascular Program, Chief of NeuroInterventional Spine Service, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School
Field: Interventional Radiology
Specialty: Interventional Neuroradiology

Did you always want to be a doctor? What led you to pursue medicine?
I decided to become a doctor when I was 11. I was in Israel with my father and saw some of the amazing work that surgeons were doing. I was impressed by the impact medicine could have on people’s lives.

What has your journey been like to get to where you are today?
I went to the University of Pennsylvania for medical school. When I graduated, I was actually one of the youngest graduates since the 18th century. I completed both my residency and my first fellowship in Philadelphia and then came up to Boston and worked at the Lahey Hospital’s Neurovascular Center for my second fellowship in interventional neuroradiology. I worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for a couple of years after that and then moved to Mass General in 2003 as the director of the neurovascular program. This has been a funny journey for me. I started as a young medical student and now, 24 years later, I feel like I am becoming an old man. But having embraced this field of interventional neuroradiology for so long and to think about where we are going in the future is still very exciting.How did you come to choose your specialty?
I was a young man in medical school and was impressed by the innovation in interventional neuroradiology and the opportunity to make a really fundamental impact in patient care. It really grabbed my attention and I knew pretty early on that this is what I wanted to do.

How has the field changed since you started?
The techniques are getting more and more powerful. We are fundamentally image guided in our treatments which means we do not use a big opening like you would in surgery. Instead, we use a tiny opening and allow imaging to precisely guide us. So the fact that the imaging technology has advanced so much in such a short period of time allows us to care for conditions that were too difficult to treat before.

Minimally invasive procedures seem to be a growing trend in medicine recently. Could you explain what their benefits are compared to those of their traditional counterparts?
When you are doing surgery, the bigger the incision, the longer you have to recover to be where you want to be. So the trend in a lot of different places in medicine is going toward minimally invasive procedures. The healing of the tissues is then much easier and the risks that you have are potentially less.

You have also published on topics such as socioeconomic issues and health policy. What led you to be so passionate about these issues?
I was, like many other doctors, just excited about the mechanics of what I do. The thing was, I kept hearing about these changes in health care and I felt that physicians were allowing themselves to become marginalized regarding how we ought to be delivering health care in the future. And what I found when I began to publish on this was that there was actually a real appetite from people for articles on those subjects.

I have actually recorded a fairly substantial number of podcasts on a variety of medical topics and I am proud to say that the most downloaded podcast is on the Affordable Care Act. It is so gratifying to see that what used to be an esoteric interest of the community is now a part of the mainstream.

So I started learning about it out of an interest in bettering myself, but I realized that there is an opportunity to actually more broadly educate the medical community about issues that they ought to be centrally interested in.

What is on the horizon for you in the future?
To continue to strive these kinds of minimally invasive, image-guided therapies to a broader cadre of patients. What we didn’t even imagine was possible a decade ago is now not only possible but is now the standard of care. And when I think about the future, it is just fantastic to think about the cutting edge therapy that takes these hard diseases and makes them so treatable.



JNF Adds Caregiver Support Group

A strong support network is an important part of adjusting to living with a newly diagnosed brain aneurysm/AVM or hemorrhagic stroke patient. Most hospitals do not offer patients and families ongoing support and rehabilitation for these conditions post discharge. It is The Joe Niekro Foundation’s goal to empower members by offering information and emotional support. This forum of mutual acceptance, understanding can play a vital role for caregivers by providing emotional and moral support.

Being a family caregiver can be challenging and you will find yourself facing a host of new responsibilities, many of which are unfamiliar or intimidating. During this time, you will likely experience feelings of anger, frustration, guilt, regret, hope, isolation and exhaustion. These are all normal stages of recovery and you must remember that you are not alone and help is available.  We understand that becoming a caregiver is often an unexpected and overwhelming responsibility, so we are here to help you through this new chapter of your life.

The JNF is excited to announce our new Caregiver Support Page.  The page was created for caregivers to turn to others with similar issues in attempt to deal with their isolation, powerlessness, alienation and the feelings they believe nobody understands. This chat room is a safe haven to be among other caregivers or family members in similar situations to express fears, challenges, successes and failures in an atmosphere in which everyone is loved and accepted by all. This new online group joins the following other support networks provided by JNF:

Brain Aneurysm/AVM/Stroke Support Group –


Parents of Brain Aneurysm/AVM/Stroke Children Support Group –


Young Adult/Teen Aneurysm/AVM/Stroke Support Group –


We encourage you to visit any of our groups and become part of the JNF family support network. The sense of shared experience is worth participating in an online and/or in person support group. When you meet/chat with others who have endured the same struggle or have suffered the same health conditions, you’re encouraged. You discover your issues are not unique. Other people understand exactly what you’re going through. You’re one of a group, rather than one of a kind.

“A support group can be life saving for a patient and family during their critical recovery period. I have been amazed by the commitment, the diligence and camaraderie of their members. I have been deeply impressed by the benefit my patients and their families have received by interacting with others who have survived the same ordeal. I salute the organizers of The Joe Niekro Foundation™ for all the good that they do, and am deeply grateful for the benefit my patients have received because of their efforts.”

Dr. Robert F. Spetzler
Director, Barrow Neurological Institute
Chairman and President, Barrow Neurosurgical Associates
Professor of Surgery, Section of Neurosurgery, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ

-It is estimated that 6 million people in the US have a brain aneurysm.

-As many as 1 in 15 people will develop a brain aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

-Every 18 minutes an aneurysm ruptures.

-50% of ruptured aneurysm patients will die within minutes. Of the remaining half, 50% will suffer a delayed death and those remaining will usually suffer severe brain deficits.

-Brain aneurysms are most prevalent in people ages 35-60, but can occur in children as well.

-Women, more than men, suffer from brain aneurysms at a ratio of 3:2.

If a Brain Aneurysm/AVM/Hemorrhagic Stroke support group does not exist in your area and you are interested in starting one, please contact: Kimberly@joeniekrofoundation.org.


Swedish Medical Center Testing New Brain Aneurysm Treatment Technology

Joe Niekro Foundation Medical Advisory Board Member, Dr. Donald Frei of Swedish Medical Center, is leading the study of an investigation device called WEB to treat brain aneurysms. Swedish is one of the 20 sites across the country doing trials on this new technology.

The device is already approved in Europe, and doctors just put it into the first patient in Colorado.

“Brain Aneurysms are deadly, and if we can come up with better and safer and more effective ways of treating brain aneurysms, we absolutely should do that,” said Dr. Don Frei with Radiology Imaging Associates.

The new technology is a tiny metal mesh sphere that expands inside the artery to seal of the aneurysm. It  is a revolutionary treatment for challenging ruptured and unruptured aneurysms. The initiation of the WEB study represents an important milestone for this exciting technology platform and a critical step towards improving outcomes in a patient population with significant unmet needs.

The idea — if blood can’t get in, it can’t rupture.

“We have no idea if this device is going to be better than what’s out there already and that’s what the study is going to try to find out,” said Frei.

The study will enroll 139 patients at hospitals across the United States and in Canada and Europe.


August 2015
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