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Angela Deluna

Ten years ago, Angela Deluna, 48, of Deer Park was diagnosed with benign intracranial hypertension – but her symptoms were anything but benign. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, and vision impairment were frequent features of her daily life. She could hear a sound in her ear she describes as a “wooshing.” On one occasion, Angela became disoriented while she was driving, and she required her family’s assistance to find her bearings. The pain was sometimes so severe, it was hard to go on. “There were days I thought I wouldn’t wake up the next day,” she says. “I don’t know how I lived.”

Years of seeing neurologists and other specialists yielded approaches to treatment that offered no lasting solution. Trigger point injections, infusions, pills, and other treatments failed to meaningfully improve her condition. At one time surgery was considered as an option but Angela’s doctor at the time was reluctant to perform it, calling it risky and also noting the frequent need for revisions to the surgery. Angela also had reservations. “I didn’t want to be in and out of the hospital or have my kids see me go through that,” she says. 

Remarkably, despite suffering in this way almost daily, Angela persevered and gave dedicated, skillful service as a nursing assistant in the surgical ICU at 3 North at Good Samaritan University Hospital for 12 years. “I wasn’t bedridden,” she says, “so I still had hope and I knew I could still help others. My kids needed me, too.” As it would turn out, this dedication would put her in the right place at the right time to cross paths with someone who could help— Kimon Bekelis, MD. Having known him for a few years, she approached him and described her condition. Not long after, Angela was scheduled for an angiogram, which yielded a shocking discovery. Angela had been born without a major blood vessel on the left side of her brain. The body is adaptable, so the matching vessel on the right side of her brain had handled the work of two. But years of overcompensation had taken their toll, and at the time of the angiogram the blood vessel was experiencing a 95% blockage. Dr. Bekelis moved swiftly to operate, performing a venous stenting flow diversion. “Dr. Bekelis wanted me to finally have a solution, not another band-aid, and improve my quality of life,” says Angela. 

Though the prospect of such a procedure could be daunting, Angela knew she was in good hands “Dr. Bekelis treats you so warmly, like family. His approach, his intelligence and optimism, gave me complete assurance that I would be fine. I was so blessed to have him as my doctor.”

The procedure was a success, and after a few weeks of recovery, Angela has returned to the activities of daily life and is happy to report she’s mostly free of symptoms and is looking forward to a new chapter of her life free from the suffering she had endured. “I owe Dr. Bekelis my life,” she says. “I can’t thank him enough.”

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