Tiny Part of My History

This post started as a reply to a comment, since it was getting so long I decided to write as my daily post. It gets tough to come up with topics, especially if I don’t know which way I want my blog to go.

old school-when you walked barefoot seven miles in a blizzard

About the picture of the cook stove in yesterday’s blog…..I wish that was my stove, but it was in a Museum…..it was blocked off, so I could not even get close to open the doors.  I have looked at them online, but I don’t even have a place to put one now…..I have moved in with my mother, temporarily, while my house is going through foreclosure. I am just starting to be able to maneuver a vacuum.  I mostly get my own breakfast and lunch, and I can cook now that I take steps without my cane, freeing my right hand  to carry stuff.  When my son is done with his school year, next summer, I plan on getting an apartment for a few years.  Meanwhile, I hope my left arm recovers enough so I can do almost anything.  I need to do this, even if it means learning new adaptive measures.

During March 2011 I was  on a mini-vacation, in North Carolina ,when I had my stroke.  I was sleeping at the hotel in Chapel Hill, I woke up in the middle of the night with what I call an anxiety or panic attack. I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I was dying.  I could not calm down. Once he had me calmer, I noticed my left arm was a little bit numb.  I thought I must have been sleeping on it, I always sleep on one side or another.  I got up and walked to the bathroom, at that time I was walking normal.  I decided to take a bath, so I would be ready for early the next morning, we were to take off to visit Myrtle Beach.  When I tried to get out of the tub I noticed it seemed harder to move.  I really did not think anything was wrong at this point, I thought I was tired. We had walked all over the previous day, and I spent the rest of the day working out in the hotel gym, swimming, and in the hot tub. I got dressed. While walking to go back to sleep my knee kept giving out.  I also noticed my arm felt number, even though I could still move it. This worried me only slightly, but never had I suspected a stroke.  I also thought it could not be a heart attack, since I had no pain.  I had read that heart attacks are different in women, I told my boyfriend something was wrong with me.  He called 911 right away, he was what I thought overly cautious.  By the time the paramedics came, I was convinced something was wrong, my arm was still numb, and my knee kept giving out. They insisted on taking me out on a stretcher, I thought I could walk down to the ambulance.  That was how clueless I was at the time.  Once they took my blood pressure, and said it was 280, I knew something was seriously wrong. I don’t remember what the bottom number was.  I still did not think it was a stroke until I could not move my left arm or leg at all. The paralysis arrived about the same time as I arrived to the hospital.

I felt very fortunate that the closest hospital was Duke University.  They had teams of doctors, some experts, some learning. They took a CAT scan right away, my brain was not bleeding at all.  The next day, they did a MRI. My main arteries where not clogged.  I had an ischemic stoke, not caused by a clot or bleed.  After more tests, they concluded that it was caused by a combination of high blood pressure, high triglycerides and something else I can’t remember now.  It caused one small capillary in my brain to collapse, or shut off.  The one, smaller than a pea size, part of my brain that died controlled the nerves and muscles in my left side.  They said some of the area around the “event” as they call it can recover, some parts eventually “rewire”, and a part is dead and not coming back.  Every stroke is different, every person recovers different, so they gave no predictions of what my final outcome will be.

I was in the hospital for a week, and most of the time that first day, I did not realize I could have died. When I talked to my employer, I actually said I don’t know when I am coming back, the doctors would not give me a return date.  In my mind, at the time, it would be a week or two.  The nurse finally spelled it out for me.  I would not be going back anytime soon, and it would be a long hard road just to get close to normal.

The original purpose of this post was to answer a reader’s comment.  I decided to use it as a post, and hopefully a warning to everyone that reads it, take your health seriously.  I was not on any meds at the time this happened.  I knew my blood pressure ran high.  My previous doctor said it was nothing they could not handle when it was in the 130-140 range.  I should have been put on meds then.  I had taken my pressure myself and got readings in the 180’s.  The doctor should have listened to me.  I finally changed my insurance at work, and called a new doctor.  Ironically, my first appointment with the new doctor was the week after my stroke.  Sadly, it was because it had to be booked so far in advance.  If you don’t think healthcare in the USA sucks, you are naive. Too little too late, too bad so sad for me. I won’t even go into my health insurance horror stories.  I have had to fight with the few doctors (that accepted my insurance and new patients) available since then to get my appointments sooner.  I still think waiting a few weeks is too long, but is better than waiting over a month like the doctor I never made it too. Everyone should believe in themselves, make the appointments, even if you have to argue with office staff. Take your meds, change your lifestyle, only if you want to live.

More points I think only a survivor can get across is the symptoms can vary slightly from one article you read to the next.  Some articles or campaigns make it sound like you have to have all the symptoms. You do not have them all.  I never had a headache, not even a slight one.  My stroke could have been deadly or more serious if I had not arrived at the hospital in time to drastically bring my blood pressure down. I did not feel that severely sick.  I also did not smoke or drink, which increases the chances of having a stroke.

To answer the question about what meds I am on now.

baby aspirin- this is good for anyone that can stomach it
Lopressor- metroprolol  50 mg twice a day
Amlodipine besylate 10 mg
Hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg
Lipitor currently….depending on insurance I was on Crestor (allergic to it)or Simvastatin, they also have other statins they change around depending on your health insurance (that just does not sit right with me)