Sunday, January 8, 2017


I started this blog several months ago. A lot has happened. I am getting to it as I can.

I have a little bit of back tracking to do. The month of July was a blur. Until my mother (who seems most interested in this blog) pointed out that I skipped over Father's Day and most notably, my stroke.

I had been preparing for Father's Day for a couple of months. The "movie box" idea had been such a hit, that I decided to do it again.  I spread it over a couple of paychecks so it wasn't a hit to the pocketbook all at once and I started gathering snacks I thought my Fathers would enjoy.

I already knew that I wanted to put "James Bond" movies in it. I selected a Sean Connery version and my favorite Bond flick "Live and Let Die" which the jacket claimed was the first appearance of Roger Moore. It also introduced the lovely Jane Seymour to international movie audiences. Also notable was the first African American Bond Girl Rosie Carver, which was ground breaking for 1973.  This movie scared the bejezuz out of me when it first aired on television about 1975, thanks in part to Geoffrey Holder painted up like a skull.

When I woke up on June 20th, my right arm was numb. I had that tingly, pins-and-needles feeling one gets when one has fallen asleep on their arm. I was very fatigued and felt almost as tired as I did when I went to bed.  As I showered and started getting ready for church, I didn't notice anything unusual, until it was time to put on my eyeliner.  That was when I realized that not only could I not close my fingers around the brush, I also couldn't reach my eye with my hand.  Trying to draw a straight line across my lid was an exercise in futility.. "I must be really tired, " I thought to myself as I regarded my reflection. Not bad looking, but not great looking either.  Trying to style my hair also presented a challenge, as lifting the hair dryer with  my right arm left me exhausted.

I went on to church and the only noticeable issue was that I could not seem to write legibly. It was almost like I could not grip the pen. My sermon notes are little more than a scrawl.  That was very concerning, but I felt okay other than the fatigue.

I went home before meeting Mother and the Chief at a local restaurant for lunch. I fell up the stairs to the porch, but didn't think much of that. I also had to carry something out to Julz at her job. I drove out there on the way to meet the parental units. 

Dooder joined us for lunch. He had an interesting day in Whistle Stop and was happy to share the latest tale. Naturally, I did not have the opportunity to say anything. I stumbled again walking back to my car and at that point, the Chief asked me to smile and pull back on his hands, simple stroke tests that they had learned after Mother's TIA. They deemed me normal and sent me on my way.

I then drove to my father's home. I was getting more and more fatigued, so as my speech started to  slur, I really thought that it was because I was so tired. After less than an hour, I was headed home. I fell into bed, too exhausted to even change out of my jeans.

Two hours later, I did not feel any better. My arm was still numb and weak. I called my Cyn, who used to be a nurse. Later she told me that she knew something was wrong the moment that I spoke because she could not understand a thing that I was saying.  She said, "I will be right there" and then she whisked me away to the E.R., though I really thought she was being overly cautious.

That reminded me of some of my last emergency room trips: my appendicitis which D/H had thought was "just gas,"  or the day I had a sudden bout of vertigo (that the doctor initially thought was a stroke),  brought on by a debilitating sinus infection, and he reluctantly left work to come to the ER, or the trip where I had been seeing stars for two days (my birthday by the way), that turned out to be a stroke-level blood pressure event. He didn't even bother to go with me because he thought that I was "being dramatic" and sent Tigger with me instead.  I wonder what he would have said about this event, or if I would have had to drive myself to the hospital. Probably. Loving, Caring, Supportive Husband, huh?

We arrived at the ER and Cyn , who also worked for an ambulance company while putting herself through nursing school, gave report to the very impressed triage nurse. "Wow!" she had said, "I have never had anyone give me proper report who wasn't on a truck ( for those outside of emergency medicine, that's the rescue vehicle or ambulance)."

Cyn and I laughed as we people watched.  Night time ER trips present the most interesting people. After about 45 minutes they called me back.

They started an IV (which I hate but the 22 year old nurse had a gentle hand so it wasn't so bad) and sent me for a CAT scan.  In that area of the hospital, the ceiling tiles resembled a blue sky, with fluffy white clouds. I thought as I rolled under them, had I been unconscious and woke up to this, how much it would have freaked me out.

When the doctor came in, he looked me dead in the face and said "You are having a stroke."  I immediately burst into tears. As they started the first bag of Heparin, Cyn went to call my parents, who were by this time, getting ready for bed. My mother starts her routine so she is ready to start relaxing at 9:00 p.m., so someone had "better be dying" to call that late.  I guess this would qualify.

Because of the Heparin drip, I was no longer allowed to leave my bed for any reason. This made me furious.

Cyn has always been my voice of reason, like part of my brain, the calm, logical side,   my "Jiminy Cricket" if you will.  She knows me really well, well enough to know when I was at the end of my rope and had all I could take. I was going down fighting. She apologized to the 22 year old when she came to take, what seemed like a quarter of my blood. She apologized to the PA when I went on a tear about NOT using the bed pan (a very undignified practice for someone who was able bodied).  I was having "have a Snickers" moments and bruising feelings all around me. My "filter" was fading by the minute.

"You are a little brusque there Sunshine." she commented, after my rant to the intern who had brought me a sandwich for my dinner, despite both of us telling everyone about my gluten issue.  When my parents arrived, both sets,  she spoke to them out in the hall. Probably because I was being so unabashedly candid.  My tongue felt thick as I spoke and I could not control my slurring. That frustrated me. I was unaccustomed to not being able to express myself and my lack of tact was alarming. If it came to my mind, it came out of my mouth.

The ER doctor was too busy to speak to my parents, and my mother tired several times to speak to someone. When he finally came in, they peppered him with questions.  I was mad because I take a handful of blood pressure meds so I wouldn't have a stroke, and yet, here I was having one.  He said "sometimes it just happens." Great

Because they had no available beds, I had to spend the night in the ER. At shift change I got a male nurse, which made the whole "not getting out of bed to pee" thing even more uncomfortable. I finally nodded off to sleep somewhere around 1:00 a.m.

I was up bright an early the next morning. My speech had improved dramatically after being on blood thinner all night. An orderly came to take me for an MRI, which was a new experience for me. They gave me ear plugs and put a mask over my eyes. The machine hummed and clicked in a rhythmic sing-songy manner, that almost put me to sleep. After it was over, they placed me , bed and all, in the corner between radiology and the hall to the ER. I waved and smiled and spoke to everyone that rolled by me. It felt so good to be able to talk normal again

 Soon my brother turned the corner, carrying a Styrofoam box with my breakfast. He hopped on the end of my bed and cracked jokes until the transport came to carry me to the ICU unit.

I was placed in SICU as the CICU was full. As long as I was on the blood thinner, I needed to be "monitored" and "assisted" when I left the bed. The nursing staff said that they were not accustomed to having patients that were "awake."  The window of my room overlooked the parking lot and driveway on the back side of the hospital.

. My brother thought it would be funny to fill out the dry erase board in my room.

That night the neurologist nearly fell asleep while talking to me.  I waved at my cardiologist every time he walked through the unit, but no one bothered to consult him. I was given generic versions of my blood pressure meds despite having my own with me.  My blood sugar was deemed extremely high, and I was soon getting regular insulin injections.

Over the next few days, both  my girls took turns coming and sitting with me, as did my mother. I was still not allowed out of bed without assistance but had become a pro at unhooking and hooking up all my monitors and iv's.

Despite the injections and new meds, neither my blood sugar, nor my blood pressure were getting any better. In the third day my BFF and the charge nurse had words and someone finally consulted my cardiologist. He adjusted my blood pressure meds and things started progressing.

After 4 days in the SICU, I was thankfully moved to the step down unit and could move about without an audience. As soon as I could, I took a much needed shower and slept like a baby undisturbed.

By the end of the next day I was released into the care of my BFF. My office sent these lovely hydrangea to me at her home.

I spent the next several days with my BFF's house, including our birthdays.
The following week I had the venous ablation on my left leg. This alleviated the uncomfortable tightness and swelling I had been experiencing over the past several years. My mother was careful not to carry me to Wallyworld, based on previous experience with me on valium.

It also corrected the varicose vein that popped up, way back when I was pregnant! Bonus!!

My cardiologist wanted me on a structure exercise regiment. I joined the gym that my brother works out at, that happens to be owned by a former classmate. I have been attending classes twice a week since August.

Just a few weeks ago, I had my right leg corrected as well. During the primary tests, it was discovered that the pressure in the bottom of my left leg increased dramatically. I wound up having to have an additional procedure on my left leg.  My BFF took me and enjoyed my antics while on the valium.

I was told that my stroke was a mild one. I would hate to know what a major one was like! I can tell when I am fatigued that my tongue  gets thick and I struggle to enunciate properly.
I continue to have short term memory issues and at times, words escape me. I sometimes confuse similar sounding words.  I have always prided myself on my extensive vocabulary, and this has been the hardest part to overcome. When I have a hard time expressing myself, I usually laugh it off, point at my head, and announce "stroke brain." I am also working to regain my "filter."  Sometimes being tactful is a struggle.

I am now officially a diabetic, though my new primary care doctor thinks that I can beat it.
 I also must wear a medic-alert bracelet identifying myself as both a diabetic and a stroke survivor, but haven't, as of yet, found one that I like.

I am often asked what my stroke felt like (it didn't hurt at all) and if I had known I was having a stroke would I have gone to the hospital sooner (well, duh)  and the ever annoying "Are you feeling okay?'

I renew my belief in my motto for life, the one that I borrowed from Gene Simmons
"Any day above ground is a good day."


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