9/26/2010

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. 

9/27/2010

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.

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