This woman discovered that having these “Mickey Mouse ears” could be fatal

Credit: Canva Creation

This will most likely be the only time you’ll read about Mickey Mouse ears bringing bad news to someone, and these are definitely the only Mickey Mouse ears you’ll ever hope you never receive.


Credit: Disney

Ah, Mickey ears! For many Disney Parks fans, just seeing a pair of them brings a kind of joy that nothing else can quite deliver. Mickey ears started out as only the Mickey Mouse ear hat in the 1950s when Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club aired on television. Mouseketeers wore the ears during the show, leaving fans young and old dreaming about owning their own pair.

The original ear hat, which was made of felt and featured two plastic ears, was created by Roy Williams, an adult Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club show. He drew his inspiration for the ear hat from Disney’s 1929 Mickey cartoon, Karnival Kid, during which Mickey tips his own “ear hat” to Minnie.

mickey mouse karnival kid

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

The Mickey Mouse ear hat is the most popular souvenir sold at Disney Parks because who wouldn’t want a pair of Mickey Mouse ears?

Well, as strange as it sounds, there is a scenario in which NOT having Mickey Mouse ears is actually a good thing. A very good thing. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the Disney kingdom of fandom and everything to do with cardiology. (How’s that for a strange-sounding segway?)

Stacey Morgan was 47 years old when she got a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, but unlike the Mickey ears Guests wear in the parks, Stacey’s Mickey Mouse ears were not a symbol of happiness and magic. On the contrary, hers were a picture of something going on in her body that could have cost her her life, had she not found them in time.

stacey morgan

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Stacey says she first noticed a nagging headache that wouldn’t let up, but she didn’t think too much about it.

ā€œMost of it was what we thought was vertigo and that pain and it was just getting to the point where it was getting bad,ā€ she explained. But then, things got much worse for her.

ā€œOne day it was really, really bad,” Stacey said. “I was sitting on the couch and feeling like I was literally going to fall over. I went to the emergency room and that’s where they diagnosed it.”

Stacey was told that a brain aneurysm was causing her pain by a neurologist who told her that the aneurysm was at high risk for rupturing. This was scary to her because she felt like she had a “ticking time bomb” in her brain. It made her nervous about even moving her head.

A brain aneurysm is a ballooning in a blood vessel found in the brain. It can often look like a berry hanging from a stem. Sometimes, in very rare cases, it can look like Mickey Mouse ears.

mri of brain mickey mouse aneurysm

Credit: Stacey Morgan

Approximately 6.5 million Americans live with unruptured aneurysms that are later discovered by accident. Aneurysms affect about 1 in 50 people, and neurologists say that about 30,000 people have a ruptured aneurysm, also called a subarachnoid hemorrhage each year. Once this happens, patients only have a 50/50 chance of survival.

The first doctor told her that surgery was very risky, so she got a second opinion only days later, and by that point, it had more than doubled in size. Stacey had a 90% of her aneurysm rupturing.

“[Stacey’s] aneurysm had grown big enough to hit other brain structures,” said her surgeon, Dr. Whapman, a neurologist board-certified in vascular neurology, which has to do with the blood vessels in the brain. “And [it started] to get kind of Mickey Mouse-eared.”

mickey mouse hemorrhage

Image of a “Mickey Mouse Aneurysm”/Credit: Stacey Morgan

Though “Mickey Mouse Aneurysm” is not the clinical term, neurologists refer to this type of aneurysm as such because of the shape it takes as it progresses. These types of aneurysms are called “distal anterior cerebral artery” aneurysms. They are extremely rare, accounting for only about 6% of brain aneurysms diagnosed by neurologists.

After making some lifestyle changes to better address her diabetes and her diet, Stacey also quit smoking cold turkey and was able to have a surgical procedure to address the Mickey Mouse aneurysm, rendering Stacey no longer at risk for rupture.

ā€œI feel wonderful. I feel like I have a new take on life,ā€ Stacey said.

She says she’s sharing her story to remind people to pay attention to symptoms they experience. She urges others not to ignore their bodies.

ā€œDon’t just brush it off,” Stacey says. “If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention to it, get second opinions.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of a brain aneurysm that has ruptured include the following:

  • Sudden, extremely severe headache.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Blurred or double vision.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Seizure.
  • A drooping eyelid.
  • Loss of consciousness.

A ruptured brain aneurysm is a medical emergency, making immediate medical treatment imperative. If you think you or someone you love is experiencing this scenario, call 911 or get to the emergency room immediately.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!