Dickinson County woman awaits life-saving brain surgery

Emily Houser of Iron Mountain was diagnosed with Moyamoya after suffering a series of mini-strokes
Emily Houser of Iron Mountain was diagnosed with Moyamoya after suffering a series of mini-strokes
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 4:06 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - Emily Houser, an Iron Mountain resident, and mother of two, is waiting for a brain bypass surgery to save her life. About two weeks ago, she was diagnosed with a rare progressive brain disease called Moyamoya.

“The vessels in your brain start closing off. There is an artery that goes up on both sides of your brain, and my artery is completely closed off,” Houser said.

On her brain scan, Houser describes the diseased area as a “white cloud” because the blood vessels are completely shut off. Moyamoya can impact both sides of the brain, but Houser says she is thankful that as of now, only the right side of the brain is affected.

The affected areas can be seen as a "white cloud," or where the pen is pointing
The affected areas can be seen as a "white cloud," or where the pen is pointing(Emily Houser)

Now, she has mini-strokes regularly, but without surgery, it will get worse.

“It is very scary. I was on the road one time when it happened. There are like 20 minutes where I can’t function, I can’t talk,” Houser said.

Houser describes the strokes as extreme confusion and loss of coordination. She feels as if “cement is slowly coming down on your body. Your brain just gets so slow, it doesn’t work.” When she has mini-strokes, she cannot talk and will drop anything she is holding, including her son.

“The one time I dropped him, I looked down and he was there, I couldn’t think to pick him up or help him. Luckily my husband was here.”

Before her diagnosis, she had over 10 mini-strokes in seven days without knowing why. To help prevent future strokes, Houser will drink two to four 32-ounce water bottles an hour. She says staying overly hydrated will keep her blood thinner, and flow smoother.

Houser cannot drive or be alone with her sons, Jackson, and Myles. Her husband Devin is taking unpaid time off from work to care for her while she waits for a life-saving brain bypass surgery.

“Before COVID, I would have had my surgery already. Right away they would have sent me, that is the frustrating part,” Houser said.

She was in the ICU at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Green Bay for two weeks, awaiting transfer to Madison for the procedure.

“There are no beds open, which is very frustrating because I sat and I cried every time they said, ‘not today,’ because they can’t do anything but sit in ICU and watch me with a million monitors, but they couldn’t fix my brain,” Houser said.

Houser is now home until Wednesday. This is the first time in over two weeks she’s seen her children. Jackson, two-years-old, and Myles, one-years-old, have been staying with their grandparents.

“They are definitely happy to be home with Mommy right now,” Houser explained.

Her doctors have been in contact with Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers about finding her space in Madison. Houser will be transferred to a clinic with a stroke team in Madison, and from there, she hopes, to the hospital for surgery.

“I said I would lay in the hallway, I would! Just get me in somewhere so I am not sitting here with a timebomb in my head, waiting. It is very scary,” Houser said.

Houser says that bills will exceed well over $100,000. The family is covered by insurance, but even with the help, her bill for staying at the ICU in Green Bay is about $93,000 alone.

A Go-Fund-Me page has been created to cover the family’s expenses and support her children. Houser says that it is still is a disease, and she will live with Moyamoya for the rest of her life.

Copyright 2022 WLUC. All rights reserved.