Thirty years ago, there was no 911 to call in an emergency. And as a result, there was almost no John Mastel.
>> Within three weeks after his surgery to close a ruptured brain aneurysm, John suffered a stroke as well.
>> John has worked as a tireless volunteer supporting stroke and brain aneurysm patients, and as a speaker raising awareness about post-stroke life. He was honored with the KARE 11 “Eleven Who Care” award in 2010.
Thirty years ago, there was no 911 to call in an emergency. And as a result, there was almost no John Mastel. After suffering for a week from a blinding headache that forced John to isolate himself, he finally asked his wife to drive him to Bethesda Hospital, which at the time had a full-service emergency room.
John's level of pain had progressed to the point that he couldn't function or communicate, but a resident was quickly able to diagnose that a bulging brain vessel had burst, causing a hemorrhagic stroke (ruptured aneurysm) in John's brain. An emergency surgery closed the broken blood vessel with a metal clip.
Miraculously, John survived, in a time where 97 percent of people with ruptured aneurysms did not. However, within three weeks, John suffered a second stroke - this one ischemic, meaning a decrease in blood supply to his brain. The two brain injuries combined to affect his senses of smell and taste and a loss of control when he laughs or cries.
He went on to raise two children, as well as to work as a tireless volunteer supporting stroke and brain aneurysm patients and as a speaker raising awareness about post-stroke life.
Through his volunteer work, John got to hear stories from people who recently suffered aneurysms, and about how they monitored the risk of new aneurysms through MRI scans - a level of knowledge and peace of mind that is unattainable for John.
"Because of the metal clip in my brain, I can't undergo any testing that involves magnetic forces - it would move the clip and reopen my blood vessel," he explained.
But as headaches began to plague John again in 2010, he turned to the National Brain Aneurysm Center to find out if anything could be done to monitor his situation.
"Anyone who has ever had a brain aneurysm is more susceptible to subsequent ones," said John, "so I was forced to face this. Fortunately, my doctor was able to tell me that the quality of CT scans had progressed to where we could take a look and see if anything had developed. And fortunately, thanks to my doctor's knowledge about CT scans, we're OK - there was nothing new to be discovered."