and here is where we get technical


Not just pretty cool.

I might be taking an umbrella to my heart.

So here is the diagnosis…

A Hole in the Heart – Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

When a person has stroke or transient ischemic stroke (TIA) “out of the blue” with no obvious risk factors, doctors often check to see if the event was caused by a “hole” in the heart called a patent foramen ovale (PFO)? About 1 in 5 Americans has a PFO. Many don’t know it until a medical condition like a stroke or TIA occurs. PFOs often have no symptoms but they may increase your risk for stroke and TIA. Many PFO-related strokes are called cryptogenic, meaning they have no apparent cause.

The doctor explained that blood does not really care for turbulence. If one were to take a bowl of blood and a whisk, and scrambled it, it would make clots just for giggles…because that’s how blood rolls.

Turns out, if blood squirted across a juncture in the heart through a hole, there may be quite a bit of turbulence. A clot might form, and the next stop after that particular section of heart happens to be the brain.

I have this hole. How big? Dunno. For that I get another echocardiogram, but this time from behind the heart via a camera down the esophagus. Weird, huh? But also kinda fantastic in a Fantastic Voyage way.

If the hole is teeny, then I take aspirin the rest of my life and that takes care of it. If it is a little bigger then teeny I get to have “an umbrella” put in there to seal the hole. It was a pretty cool description and much more apropos than “a balloon”. The echocardiogram/ultrasound lady told me about the above animation when I told her I was an animator. No kidding. It really is lovely. AND CLEAR.

If I get the umbrella, it’s an outpatient procedure. I go in, they insert the thing via a wire through a vein. I think I will buy myself a tropical dress for the occasion.


  1. Itzel

    ohh a tropical dress! how fabulous!

    But I hope there’s no need for tropical wear and you’ll do with just an aspirin a day. I know a place where they sell it in bulks 🙂 oxoxo!

  2. joy

    Wow! karen & I watched how the surgery for umbrella was done on the 5 yearr old. Amazing to be alive in the 21st century with the technology available to us..Karen was an EMT, she said
    it use to be open heart surgery and now it’s done with a catheter & .Bata-bing Bata-Boom.Presto change goes in to a vein and the vascular system..your more hole…wow we r so lucky we r living today…Yeah bravo 21st century technology….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top