Thank you so much to all of you who read Part 1 and 2 and either liked or commented. I feel the well wishes and the love! Before I get too deep into this post, I must tell you that I fully recovered from this episode. Multiple doctors and neurologists have confirmed that I have no deficits, no residuals, and I am recovering and doing well. This is the last part of my blog recounting my experience with having a stroke which occurred on Saturday, Oct 4th, 2014. Read I had a Stroke on Saturday night Part 1 and 2 (links at the end of this blog entry) for events that led up to this post. Stay tuned! I am still processing what happened and I find that writing about it helps me and my loved ones, so thank you for reading. I feel blessed..
|The information board in my room.|
I finally made it upstairs to my room. 676 Window. There was a dry erase board with all of the information I needed to know at that moment. It was only a few minutes before midnight so my nurse wrote the date 10/5 instead of 10/4. Laura was her name. She was very sweet, and informative like Crickett. She asked me what happened to me so I told her. She listened intently. After hearing my story, she performed a neuro check and asked me about my vision. I looked to my right, where Sean was now sitting and I gasped! It was the first time I realized that my vision was back! No more double vision or blurriness on my right side. Whew! Thank goodness that’s over. I couldn't help but smile!
Laura walked out and returned with a couple of folders to give me. One of them was a stroke packet. Why is she giving this to me? Didn’t she hear me say I didn't have a stroke? I quickly glanced through the material, but didn't feel the need to read it because after all, it didn't apply to me.
She also gave me an informational packet about the hospital, Vassar Brothers Medical Center. Of course I dove right into this packet to educate myself on this hospital! HA! Only I would end up in a hospital where the chefs are all grads from the Culinary Institute of America! I guess that makes sense because they’re only up the road from here. I proudly told Sean this fact, and he agreed that this was very appropriate for me! If you are a foodie, then I know you can relate to my excitement upon this discovery!
I needed to use the restroom again. This time, I was determined to go on my own. However, I was labeled a Fall Risk. This meant I had bright yellow socks on, a yellow wristband that said FALL RISK, and above my bed, a bright yellow sign with the same words. My bed had an alarm that would go off whenever I got up. It weighed me, all 125lbs of me. Laura informed me that before I get up I have to call for a nurse. Someone would then come and disarm the bed to prevent the annoying relentless beeping sound and an automated announcement saying, “urgent, patient left bed 676” which would repeat over and over until it got reset.
A nurse aid finally came so I got up and went to the bathroom unassisted. I made it. I felt a bit shaky, and I was moving slowly but I was able to walk on my own. I looked in the mirror and saw that my eyes were bloodshot. My face was red and swollen. My hair, well, no need to describe that but you can imagine. Wow! I looked like I had just been through hell! I looked worse than I felt. I have never seen my eyes and face this way before. I walked back and as I was getting back in my bed, I said to Sean, "wow I look terrible." He said, no you don’t. You look way better than you did a few hours ago. Maybe he was being nice, maybe he was in denial. I don’t know. I wondered how I must’ve looked a few hours before...
The good thing is that I didn’t have to pay for my TV! I watched SNL, laughed a bit and fell asleep at some point. Laura woke me up every couple of hours for a neuro check: she checked my blood pressure and my temperature. She asked me to raise both arms over my head, smile, stick my tongue out, resist the direction she was pushing with her hands on my feet and push the opposite way using my feet against her hands. I did well each and every time. And my blood pressure slowly and steadily came down.
My MRI was scheduled at 8:30am the next day. It was quick. Loud, banging, clanking noises and 20 minutes later I was done. When I got back upstairs to my room, breakfast was there waiting for me. It was surprisingly good! Well, the chefs are from CIA so it had to be good! I was feeling good because I thought I would be going home later that day.
Dr. Ritter came to share the results of the MRI. He gave me a printout with words I didn’t recognize. He told me in this conversation that I had an event. I heard it as a mini stroke, although I realized much later in the day that I misheard him. He spoke to me in a very comforting way. He also said I couldn't go home yet. Not that day. This surprised me. I fully expected to be discharged that day and so I was really confused when he told me otherwise. After he left, I had a weird suspicion that I didn’t hear something correctly. I regretted not reading that stroke packet Laura gave me the night before.
Sean walked in as soon as Dr. Ritter left my room. I told him the doctor said I had a mini stroke. He was shocked and asked me if I was sure. I asked my nurse to see if Dr. Ritter could come back and explain everything to Sean. At the moment, I couldn't remember what he said. But I was told that he was gone and Dr. Dani would be coming up soon. I texted my brother Roy and asked him to be the one to tell my parents that I had a mini stroke. I told him that I didn’t want to get upset. Could he please do this for me, and he said of course.
Dr. Dani, the neurologist came by a few hours later and confirmed the findings. He said I had a stroke. Wait, WHAT? I asked him to clarify. Was it a stroke, or a mini-stroke? I thought it was a mini one? I didn’t even know the difference at that point, but mini sounded better than not-mini. I made him repeat himself over again. And then I said it out loud. “So we are clear, you are saying I DID have a stroke. Is that what you are saying?” He said, “YES, but no deficits. That is good! No deficits.” I replied, "So you're saying I had a stroke STROKE?" He said yes, but repeated the words "no deficits." What does that mean? No damage? He showed me a picture of my brain scan and pointed to a dark spot in the right hemisphere of my brain. He said there, there is where it happened. I couldn’t breathe. What am I looking at? My thoughts starting running away from me...Brain damage? A dark spot? Dead space? Useless mass? OMG! I HAD A STROKE! Gulp!!!
Tears welled in my eyes. I couldn’t breathe. I didn't want to cry. But I couldn’t hold back the tears. I wanted to scream and yell out loud, WHY??? Why did this happen to ME? I take care of myself, my body, my mind. What was the point of doing all of that? This doesn't make any sense!
Even right now as I am typing these words, the emotions take-over me and it still feels RAW.
I have never ever in my life felt so helpless as I did at that moment. I felt weak, soft, and sad that I was no longer who I always thought I was. Strong, invincible, powerful! I laid back down on the bed. Dr. Dani looked at me, and reiterated that this was positive because I HAVE NO DEFICITS and that's all that matters. I looked at Sean, then I looked at my sister-in-law, Jackie who arrived just moments before. I had no energy. No words. I didn't want to feel bad and I didn't want them to feel bad for me. Dr. Dani said the words NO DEFICITS repeatedly in hopes that this would comfort me. But it didn't. I didn’t understand what this meant until later on in the evening when nurse Laura came back for her shift.
In the meantime, I texted my family and closest friends and told them I had a stroke. An official stroke. I didn't want to talk to them so a text message was perfect.
Laura came back that evening. She told me she read my chart and saw the results of the MRI. She said “sorry.” I knew she meant it. She said that she knew I had a stroke the night before when she gave me the stroke packet to read. Upon reflection later on, I realized that she is after all, a nurse in the Stroke Unit and has experience seeing patients with symptoms like mine. She went on to tell me that I am very lucky. That I should feel blessed. That someone, somewhere is looking out for me. That for me to have a stroke in the area of my brain where it happened, and to come out of it the way I did, with no deficits, no loss in memory, speech, motor functions, is very, very rare. She said it over and over, “You are very lucky!”
After Laura walked out of my room, I pulled out the stroke packet and read it in great detail. Next, I read the results of my MRI word for word. Under the word Ischemia, which I now know refers to a loss or reduction of blood flow to the tissues, it said: "there is a small medial thalamic rounded hyperintense T2 focus measuring 1.0 x 0.8 cm on the right. This demonstrates restricted diffusion and is compatible with a small acute infarct". An infarct is an area of tissue that is dead or dying because of a loss of blood supply. There it is--describing the location and size of the damage in my brain. There it is--evidence of the stroke. I quickly recalled the picture Dr. Dani showed me of my brain scan.
Now I understood what Dr. Dani, Dr. Ritter and Laura were trying to tell me. I finally got it. I had a stroke. Yes, I did. AND YET, I STILL have all of my abilities as if the stroke never took place. I don’t remember if Laura said the word “miracle” when we were talking earlier or if I thought it myself, but that is what I felt. That a miracle had just taken place in my life. My heart was open. I felt lighter. A deep sense of calm and peace had taken over me. My thoughts finally quieted. I smiled. I was grateful. I slept soundly that night.
|I just had to take a selfie!|
The next day, I awoke with an appreciation over what happened. I had a stroke on Saturday night, and yet I was going to be discharged today, Monday. I once again felt strong, powerful, maybe not invincible, but grateful and truly blessed. I couldn't help but smile. I knew I would be going home. I remembered that I had my makeup bag in my purse so I grabbed it, pulled my mirror out, put makeup on, and brushed my hair. All is well! And yes, I took a selfie! I liked what I saw. I sent the pic to my immediate family, a few of my closest friends, and Sean. I was starting to feel like myself again and I wanted them to know.
My discharge instructions listed my diagnosis as CVA (cerebral infarction); Hypertensive emergency
More to come….
For Part 1 read I had a stroke on Saturday night
For Part 2 read I had a stroke on Saturday night: Part 2