I don’t know whether to label this entry as “A Stroke of Good Luck” or “The Potato Chip Did It”. Then I decided to have some fun.
In any event, this is what happened on Tuesday afternoon.
Fifteen minutes before the end of the job, a co-worker offered me two Pringle potato chips to eat as a snack. The first one was delicious; full of the onion dip flavor they advertised on the package. The second one was tasteless. Not bad tasting; it just didn’t have any flavor.
Now some potato chips, due to errors in cooking, flavoring, or manufacturing, do not have any flavor. It’s rare, but it does happen from time to time. But this one was different. Not only did I notice this potato chip was without flavor, but I also seemed to experience a microsecond of which I was unconscious of anything.
I could still see. But my vision was doubled. I saw two of everything. I tried to touch my keyboard but I couldn’t move my left arm. Or at least move it where I wanted to go. It was like blindly swinging a heavy rope, hoping the end of the rope would, by chance, somehow land where I wanted it go. It had lost all control and movement. This is serious, but even more serious than one might know otherwise – I’m left-handed. And left-footed. And left-eyed. And my left-eared. If I lose my left-side, I am in grave danger of being bedridden for a long time.
I stood up and tried to get a supervisor to tell him I was suffering double vision and needed help. Bad choice. Within a second I felt unstable standing up, and no, it was not due to an earthquake. It just was me; wobbling and struggling to stay up. I have strong legs from long distance running, and they undoubtedly kept me upright when everything else seemed to be failing.
A co-worker passed me a pile of tissues about this time. I didn’t know the reason why at this time. But I was to learn later.
A supervisor saw me. He immediately had my sit down (that wasn’t hard to do – I was already half-way down on a chair) and signaled for a nurse.
The nurse gave me some tests and 911 was called by now. Incidentally, my left arm was getting stronger and I had some amount of control. Still I felt helpless. I remember thinking that this means I am not going home tonight.
The EMT asked some question to see I was conscious. Like asking me my name, birthday, and where I was. I answered all of them correctly. Nothing wrong with my memory! This is a good sign. It was just my body that was going haywire.
So they put me in a gurney and I remember seeing the shocked looks on my co-workers. They wheeled me out the front door and I closed my eyes. Not as much I didn’t want to look at people (although that was part of it), but because the double vision was starting to hurt my head.
I remember several things in my ambulance trip. One was seeing the parking lot of my employer disappear into the distance. Another was the answering all the questions they EMT was presenting to see if I was still conscious and could remember things. I felt like telling (or maybe even shouting if it would do any good), “There nothing is wrong with my memory! It’s my body that is going wacko!”
But I played along. I’ve been in ambulances before. They are usually not fun rides, unless you tell a joke to yourself. And no matter what, they are going to stick a needle in your arm for the IV solution to keep you stable.
Well, they did just that. And then they quickly lifted up my shirt (I felt violated) to attach all the stickies to my chest to hook-up sensors to the EKG machine. And of course, they put an arm band around my left arm to monitor my blood pressure (I told you I felt violated!)
I passed all monitoring tests, plus others that measured the grips of my hands (fortunately the strength in my left arm had returned).
And they also told me about the right side of my mouth. It was drooping and I was drooling from that side. Yuck! Now I know why my co-worker gave me the tissues. Why didn’t I notice this before? By the way, I was still looking at the EMT man with only one as I had closed my right eye so I didn’t get a headache from my double vision.
But they had no procedure to test or determine why I had double vision.
All they said was that it was likely I had a stroke. But they could not give a definite prognosis. That had to wait until we got to the hospital.
We finally got to the emergency room. And there was a police officer there. Was I in that much trouble? Did the ambulance break the speed limit or run a red light rushing me to the hospital? No, they were just waiting for some inmates that got injured in a jail.
Anyway, the first nurse immediately ordered some vital signs and an EKG to be taken (didn’t we do this in the ambulance?).
More wires were attached to my body. By this time I felt like Pinocchio.
I was wheeled into a room for a CT scan. No blood in the brain, no fractures, no head injuries, nothing to be found in my head (ok, that didn’t come out right!)
Came back into the emergency room and then they finally got to, at least IMHO, some relevant tests.
There were tests to determine Aphasia (inability to understand written words), Dysarthria (inability to form the right sounds from a printed word), Hemiparesis (weakness or paralysis on one side of the body), Visual agnosia (inability to process images), dilated pupils, elevated heart rate, and others.
The only thing that might have been considered abnormal was my heart rate, which was slightly lower than most people. I told them I did long distance running, including marathons. That seemed to have answered there question why my heart rate was lower (another plus for running!)
Finally, they said that I probably didn’t have a stroke, but a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), which is a condition that simulates a stroke with its symptoms but is a temporary blockage of a blood vessel in the brain that goes away within 24 hours, usually without any permanent damage.
The mysterious thing about all this is that most of my symptoms had either disappeared or were noticeably lessened. All except my double vision. The neurologist mentioned that double vision was not a known part of a stroke.
Ok, now it was dark outside. And I had been attached to wires and tubes for a few hours now. It was not just after 8 PM and I knew I wasn’t going home that night. Especially when they told me they wanted to do more testing.
Originally I was moved to room 712. The secured me to a gurney and we took the elevator to the 7th floor. Within half an hour they decided to move me to room 612 the 6th floor as they had some stuff there that was more beneficial to me. So I put me back on the gurney, wheeled me to the elevator once more, and we exited on the 6th floor. We briefly entered room 612, but barely entered when we were told to go room 614-2. Ok, the final choice for a bed tonight. Nope! They decided to move me to room 614-1, as the learned that 614-2 was not properly cleaned.
It was now 10:30 PM
But sleep time was not forthcoming. I had to be introduced once again to the heart monitoring devices and the IV machine. And they told me my schedule for the next morning. Four tests to make sure that there was nothing wrong with me and to keep me safe.
I didn’t have too many questions (I was exhausted). But I do remember asking for dinner, which is something I think they forgot about. I hadn’t eaten anything since those two potato chips. I told them anything would do as long as it didn’t include potatoes. They didn’t get the joke – but that’s OK, I got it and that is all that matters.
They responded with good tasting food (although anything tastes good if one is hungry enough, even hospital food). It was welcomed.
These nurses and doctors really must love tests. They told me that I was going to have my blood pressure and rate tested every four hours in addition to the four tests. And they couldn’t do anything at the time for my double vision. They got me some pajamas with drawstring and enough opening so they could slide all the tubing and wires from the monitoring machines to my chest and legs (there is nothing wrong with my legs!)
It was 12:30 AM when I finally got to sleep.
In the morning they gave me my morning heart tests, breakfast (and breakfast in bed!), a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb. Just like a hotel. This was going to become my hotel suite. It even had a TV. Interesting enough, they didn’t include a razor. So I didn’t shave for three days. During which time I was able to count the number of white hairs if I ever grew a beard. I think I would like to stay hair free.
Oh, by the way, I didn’t have double vision any longer! My eyes, esp. my right, were tired but they were functioning just fine! In fact, it seems they were actually a little stronger. Oh, the wonders of the human body!
So we did those four tests. Which lasted all morning. But I was back in my hotel suite by 11:30 AM And it looked like to I might be able to go home that Wednesday.
No such luck. They, finding no blockages, or anything else that was wrong, decided to have another test. Like I said, these people love their tests. Which was OK with me, as long as they could do it that day.
They told me to wait.
And wait I did. For five hours. Until I finally called a nurse. She immediately called the department responsible for my test on my behalf. She reported back to me that since one of my tests involved was an MRI, they would have to 24 hours to do another one.
Another night in this hotel suite. At least the food tastes good.
In the morning they again gave me my morning heart tests, breakfast, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb. They even helped me get clean. Yeah! I already feel better.
So we did that last test major test (but not skipping the heart pressure and heart rate tests).
Now I had to wait again. They were now certain that I had either thick blood, a TIA episode, or something else. Thanks guys – at least you were kind enough to suggest you didn’t know. Anyway, they suggested 81 mg aspirin to help out the blood flow.
They also gave me a booklet to read so I could reduce the chances of getting another episode (despite the free TV, the free breakfast in bed, and other perks, I don’t want to revisit the hotel suite.)
Interesting enough, there was checklist to see if one is a candidate for a stroke. What makes this chart interesting, if I am reading this right, is that no matter what type of person you are, or what condition you might be in, you will have the same score as everyone else.
My score is eight. What is yours? (see below)
And this what a friend posted.
OK, this was a long post. Thank you for reading about me.