Saturday, June 9, 2018

Don’t Freak Out but I Had a Stroke

Yep, that’s what I have been saying to people lately.  I look the same but, yes, I had a stroke.  Not a TIA but a small stroke.  My episode in March now appears to have been a TIA.

I am okay and I am very, very lucky. 

The stroke was an Ischemic Stroke in the right side of my Thalamus and caused the whole left side of my body to go numb.  A week ago, I had a couple of episodes like what happened in March (slight tingling in my hand and face but not bad) just before my whole left side numbness. 

My new home office decor
I knew this was a problem so Rach took me to the ER and I was seen immediately.  The hospital started their stroke alert protocols and put me in a room.  They did a bunch of neurological tests and I didn’t have any weakness; I was able to read, talk, touch my finger to my nose and to the doctor’s moving finger and saw all the fingers she held up.  I know these neuro tests as Robert goes through them all the time at his appointments but it was very surreal having to do them myself.

My only symptom was that I had numbness and tingling (kind of like my left side was asleep). 

After passing everything with flying colors, they didn’t think I had a stroke.  Stroke alert was cancelled but they ran some blood work and did a CT scan just to be on the safe side.

They still didn’t think I had a stroke. 

I only had the whole left side numbness.  (Let me tell you how odd it is to have half your forehead feel numb!) 

The doctor had no idea what the issue was and suggested it was possibly a panic attack caused by stress.  Yes, I have a lot of stress in my life but I haven’t had a panic attack in years and I have very specific triggers for them. 

I knew this wasn’t a panic attack but also know that stress does weird things to the body. 

I didn’t know why I had numbness, the doctor didn’t know but it seemed reasonable to think this wasn’t a stroke.

So we left the hospital.  We all thought the numbness would be gone by morning. 

When I woke up on Sunday, my leg numbness was gone but I still had the numbness in my left arm and face.  My face felt like I had a Novocain shot from the dentist except without the drooling. 

The ER doctor called to check on me and became concerned that I still had numbness. She ordered an MRI and, as luck would have it, there was an appointment later that afternoon.  I’ll take it! 

Rach went with me to the MRI (poor girl was so worried about me and I hate worrying my family!).  I tried to convince the radiology tech to show me my scan but he refused. I pulled the “I won’t know what I’m looking at” ploy (even though I have seen enough of Robert’s MRIs to know if mine was normal or not).  He must have seen right through that so I left without seeing my scan.  Oh well. 

The next morning Richard had a third skin graft surgery so Robert and I drove him to the hospital and got him settled in pre-op.  Robert and I waited with him doing his word search book and me answering emails from work.  I called to set up an appointment with my neurologist and found out he had scheduled a phone appointment for me so I waited for his call.  He was on vacation but had been answering my emails and was on top of monitoring what was going on with me.

He soon called and told me what happened Saturday night was, in fact, a stroke. 

You mean a TIA? 

No.  You had a stroke.  

Believe me, hearing that is enough to practically cause another one!

He told me I needed to start on blood thinners immediately and he wanted me to take a “load” dose of four pills then one a day along with the aspirin.  He also increased my cholesterol medication and told me to go to the ER if I have any other symptoms. 

He called the meds into the hospital pharmacy since I was already at the hospital and I took Robert to get them.  The pharmacy was up a hill so I set Robert in the shade and told him to stay put.  He joked he would go to France.  Funny guy.  I’m worried about my stroke and he is cracking jokes.

Probably the best thing for me. 

I called Rach, a couple of friends, Other Brother and realized I couldn’t even tell Richard yet because he was still in surgery!  After taking the meds and talking to everyone I started feeling numbness in my leg again and freaked myself out. 

Since the doctor had said to go to the ER if I had any other symptoms, I walked to the ER, pushing Robert.  I called Rach for me and Richard’s brother, Jimmy for Richard.  Jimmy was actually at the same medical facility at his own doctor’s appointment so he came over to check on Richard while I went to the ER.  Rach met me at the ER and ran between me and Richard to update him when he came out of surgery and to keep an eye on me. 

Robert sat in a corner of my room and contentedly worked on his word search puzzle. 

I explained to the doctor what was going on and he was very reassuring.  He explained that it was unlikely I was having another stroke since I just loaded up with blood thinners.  He called the neurologist on call and ran more blood work and did his best to keep me calm.  He ordered a heart monitor for me and, after a short while, I was able to leave and visit with Richard in the post-op room. 

It was quite a day. 

I’ve since seen a stroke specialist who ordered more tests, more lab work and answered all my questions. I’m waiting on all the results but, in the meantime, I need to watch my diet, exercise more and reduce my stress. 

Reduce my stress. 

After the year I have had, I am ready to do just that.  Yes, it is cliché but I am going to say it:

This was a wake-up call.

My neurologist said I am very young (why, thank you!) and in otherwise good health.  She sees no reason why, with lifestyle changes, this will not be a one-time thing. 

She even said that my residual numbness in my hand and face and the occasional leg numbness will most likely go away eventually.  I would love for the numbness to go away but, right now, I am using it as a constant reminder that I need to make changes. 

I am very motivated to do so and am very grateful the stroke was a small one.

Note to Universe: Close call with a semi?  Stroke?  Got it.  Message received.  Loud and clear!  (And thank you for not adding dribbling to the face numbness – that would have just been piling on.)

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