Returned to work, under the wary gaze of the same provider who had diagnosed me and admitted me.  Still not up to snuff, found myself puzzling over the simplest of tasks.  Where before I would set up a procedure with a “Okay, lesion removal needs this, this, this and this…”  Now found myself walking through the steps of the procedure, visualizating everything as it would happen, to make certain I had everything.  Took me about twice as long, but still managed to adequately do my job.   Spoke to my supervisor and one of the partners of the practice and was relieved by how well they took the news.  Have been taken off of phlebotomy status (lack of delicate touch sensation on my left makes finding small veins an impossibility) for at least a few weeks until we have a better idea of how this plays out 

MRI report back, and I must admit on some level I was expecting another perfectly normal test.  The sheet of paper denied that wholeheartedly,  There, in black and white, was the proof that this wasn’t just a fuss over nothing, and I settled down to wait for my neurology appointment.



Tuesday morning. 

Ended my 24 hour telemetry, and brought me a happy soul from Wisconsin Heart to do my EKG and Echo cardiogram.  Still felt just not quite myself, fuzzy, distant, slurry and sleepy; but it was pretty interesting to watch the echo images of my heart, even though I had no real idea what I was watching.  And I was released from the hospital, sent home with a new aspirin regimen and the stern warning to return if any new  symptoms popped up.  MRI scheduled for the next day, since my local hospital doesn’t have one, it comes down weekly on a semitractor trailer rig from Madison.  An appointment with a neurologist, also an outreach from another facility, set, and I went home with no answers, no medications, and no real clue. 


Back to the hospital for my MRI.  Not exactly the most comforting experience…loud, dark and claustrophobic, but overall not too terrible.   Still feel a little bizarre, and find it even more bizarre that people don’t notice it more than they do.  Hand is still numb, and I catch myself often clenching the hand closed.  Face still numb, feels like I’ve recently had dental work.  Still hear myself slurring, and by the occasional glance from Hubby, know that he notices it as well. 

9/30- 10/4. 

Gradual lessening of symptoms, but I still am not myself.  The cognitive defects start to show up more than the physical, losing words, entire topics of conversations.  The never ending flow of storylines that have kept me company and amused for the greater part of my life are silent, and for the first time I start to get worried.  These are so much of me that I don’t know what to do without them, and the thought that they may be gone…permanently… hit harder than any of it had so far.

Who am I?

Like many gamers and fantasy enamored folks, I go by a myriad of names.  There’s my SCA name…Hrodny.  My IRC name… Mikhaela. My ICQ name… Stone_Alpha.  My World of Warcraft name…Damaris.  And my forum and fanfiction name… Semiiramiis.  All of this means I spend an inordinate amount of time being something I’m really not.  I spend a lot of time in worlds that don’t exist, spending time with people who aren’t real.  It’s just who I am…and who I’m not.


I’ve always been lucky, I guess, that for the most I’ve been as healthy as the proverbial horse.    There was that nasty little go ’round with my gallbladder eighteen years ago (Never been so happy to see something go quite as much as that bugger.)  And apparently, although it didn’t really raise too many flags at the time…there was that mini-stroke I had four years ago.  I thought it was pretty much nothing.  My health care provider let it go with only a handful of tests, and I was more than willing to write it off after a clean head CT and a clear carotid doppler result.  Sure, there were a couple of dizzy spells here and there, but they didn’t amount to much either. 

All that ended on the night of 9/26/2010, although I didn’t quite realize it.  That was the night I had the stroke.  41 years old, 3 months off of an annual physical that I gloated over, and I was sitting in the bathroom having a stroke.   My entire left side, just not there anymore.  I could see it.  I could pick up my left hand with my right, but it wasn’t there.  The more curious people, the ones who ask the questions instead of just giving me the “Oh, my God!  You’re so young!”  ask me what it was like.   It’s hard to describe, but here goes… it felt like a cross between getting clobbered in the side of the head by a softball and being in an airplane when the pressure changes badly.  There was an audible (palpable?) pop! stunned ringing in my ears, and the oddest part of it all…. utter calm serenity.  No fear.  No real concern.  I kept trying to panic myself, but it refused to happen.  Even watching my left hand do things I hadn’t told it to do brought only a vague “Huh.  That’s something you don’t see everyday.” thought.  Fifteenish seconds later, it all started to come back online.  Tingling pins and needles, heavy limbs, and when I walked in to my bedroom, the ability to put a sentence together that didn’t send my husband on a beeline for the nearest ER.   And yeah, I was bad.  I went to bed. 


Monday morning. 

I woke up feeling generally crappy, headachy, and just….off.  My face was still numb and looked puffy.  My hand was still numb, and I couldn’t feel my fingertips when I brushed across them.   So I went to work.  (Before you give me up as irreparably insane, understand that I work in a clinic, and going to work is going to see my provider.)  Thankfully, I was working with the single doctor on our staff that I trusted to take this a little more seriously than it had been taken before, and I got the earliest appointment with him that I could manage.  More than half of me was expecting the same level of curious dismissal that my last visit had given me, even when I could not manage half of the neurological tests he sprang on me.  There wasn’t dismissal, and there was a notable lack of curiosity on his face as he watched.  Concern yes, curiosity no.  So I asked the obvious… was I having another TIA?

I had never been thrown the full s word before.  I’d had a mini stroke. A TIA.  But he frowned and shook his head.  No, he thought I had experienced a stroke.  No limiting “mini” with it.  Twelve hours out, and still experiencing symptoms… he was going ahead and calling it the real deal.  Another head CT…as crystal clear as the first.  I waited for the backing off of the whole “stroke” diagnosis.  But no….he was admitting me to the hospital…. the oddest phrase that I found myself repeating was “Observation for progression of stroke.”  That earned me a ‘fall risk’ wristband, every four hour neurological tests and some fairly dubious nurses.   They became even more dubious after they caught me happily playing World of Warcraft while confined to my hospital bed.  It all seemed like a whole lot of fuss over nothing.