On July 16,2010 I woke early to go for routine blood tests. Because I am diabetic these were fasting blood tests so I wasn't alarmed that I felt dizzy and light headed. I managed to shower and dress and sat at the dining room table to wait for my friend who would be driving me to the office to have my blood drawn. When my friend arrived, I began sweating, my vision went double and I felt nauseous. I had always been independent and I tried to convince my friend I was OK, I just needed some air. So I staggered to the back porch and began vomiting uncontrollably and the world started spinning. My friend saw I was having trouble standing so she slid a chair behind me and I collapsed into it.
By this time, the expression on my friend's face was unmistakeable. She was worried but I continued to reassure her I was OK. She told me she was taking me to the ER. It was raining that morning and there was a bad school bus accident and I lived close enough to the hospital that she could get me there before the ambulance could. We both knew how much trouble I was in when I didn't put up one word of argument.
I had to keep my eyes closed on the ride to the hospital or I would start vomiting again and when we got to the ER. I couldn't walk and my friend left me in the car while she got me a wheel chair. Finally She got me inside where the next round of obstacles surfaced. In triage they asked my name, address and the regular information and I had no idea. I sat looking at my friend--pleading silently for help. Finally we just handed over my wallet. They found enough there to satisfy them.
We got to the hospital fast enough that the CT scan didn't show the stroke and the doctor came in and diagnosed me with vertigo.She suspected an inner ear disorder called BVVP and sent me home with orders to go for a table tilt test to verify the diagnosis. I didn't understand what she was saying but I felt comforted by the slow rhythm of her speech and her reassuring tones so I just smiled and kept nodding and no one knew anything was wrong. I passed out again like I had off and on for 8 hours so they let me "sleep" and when I woke my friend took me home. My only deficits were invisible to anyone but me and easily attributable to Vertigo so no one was concerned.
Since there was no urgency for an inner ear problem the table tilt test was not scheduled right away. It didn't matter since I had another stroke before the date of the test--almost a month later on August 12th 2010. It was a busy day at the E.R. and they did a C.A.T. Scan and then moved me to another cubicle--and never came back. In frustration and irritation I unhooked myself and convinced my friend ti take me home and I left. This time I had trouble walking and seeing but by holding onto the wall in the hallway I made it out. My friend worried we would get in trouble for leaving and I didn't know either so I asked her to take me back. I had been having more trouble that day anyway.
The doctor came in lightening fast and apologized for not coming back the night before but told me I had had a stroke and would be admitted. Still using the wall or my friend to help me walk I sat there stunned. "This can't be! I can still walk--not good, but I can!" The proverbial and required (for me) ton of bricks hadn't fallen yet but soon enough they would. I was checked out for that day's complaints and had another stroke!
I stayed in the hospital a little more than a week and though I had visible deficits this time they were mild and I am stubborn enough that I 'got by'.
I "got by" until October 27th 2010. My room mate had left for work. I was home alone and had just eaten lunch. On my way to the fridge to put away the leftovers I fell into the trash can but was able to pull myself up. I felt really tired so went to lie down. My nose itched which is when I realized I couldn't move my arm. I tried to get up to go to the bathroom and couldn't move my leg either. I managed to stagger there dragging my leg but my bladder released before I got there. I called my friend again and asked her to come sit with me a while--that I was okay but just a little scared. She said she would be right over and called the ambulance from her cell phone as soon as we hung up. They showed up the same time she did.
I remember them loading me into the ambulance but only bits and pieces after that. I remember people scurrying around trying to stablyze me and saying my internal organs were starting to shut down. And then I remember being in a room (NICU) choking.
I have since had a procedure to "patch" a hole in my heart thru which a piece of a clot escaped to cause my stroke and had wonderful therapy in rehab. The doctor thought there was no chance of me ever walking or using my arm again but one of the nurses disagreed,and I worked hard in PT/OT. I had one hour of speech therapy five days a week as well as two hours a day of PT and OT...once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I have used E-Stim, Massage, constraint therapy, and more. I was at The Mischner Neuro-Science Institute in Houston, Texas.
Today each of the deficits from that stroke are still present but somewhat functional--which is more than anyone suspected. I continue to try anything I can to get better and to help others who have suffered stroke.