It was a nice August 16th and I actually wore a dress to work. I was fighting a headache for about 3 hours. While joking with some co-workers, I realized I was unable to communicate in my normal fashion. Ut oh, this thing is happening again. I sat polarized for a few moments waiting for it to pass. It didn’t and I packed my things up to go home. As I walked through the door, my son knew something was wrong with me. I was in complete denial. After 7 hours, 3 phone calls, my sister, and mom visiting, 2 hours of reading aloud, my son decided to drive me to the hospital.
As I walked from the parking lot to the receiving desk, I cried. What was wrong with me? He had to speak for me because at the time – the words would not form as articulately as I desired them to. They rushed me to the back. No real information had been given and I was extremely agitated when they told me I would have to stay. I let the kid know he could go home, no sense in us both being uncomfortable in this overcrowded Detroit hospital ER. In addition, I let the doctor know the only way I was going to stay was if they gave me something to go to sleep. Whatever it was that they gave me I didn’t wake up until someone was trying to take off my pants. (It was good but I ain’t had NOTHING that would make me NOT realize my pants are being removed.) I was in my own room. Oh shit! I need to let somebody know where I am. True to form my phones needed life support. Mission: Text as many critical communicators as fast as possible.
Yeah, you read it right! They believed I had a small stroke. Not a TIA again. An actual, fuck yo life up stroke. What was my 36-year-old ass doing in here being diagnosed with this? Something called an ulceration of my carotid artery. Causing me to experience some speech impairment. My son had contacted my family. Some of my FB family reached out to me that were actually working in the hospital and in communication with me through our group message. I had reached out to the Mister on my way home the previous day and he found out they were keeping me later on. I felt a lot better but I really just wanted to get out of there.
I took so many tests my head began spinning and every day I thought would be the day I’d be going home. Home wasn’t on the agenda until Friday. While I lay in that uncomfortable hospital bed with these foam boots on my legs, I analyzed my life. I never planned on leaving my son alone without a sibling. He was 17 and depending on only himself. I thank God I had grocery shopped over the weekend. He would stay late into the night then go to practice and come see me afterward. My room buzzed in the evening hours with visitors. It was nice but I wanted to go. When they began talking about me leaving, I perked up. When she brought me the discharge papers, I was dressed. The nurse wanted to wait for a wheelchair, I opted to walk out. The smell of the fresh air was welcoming. The taste was fulfilling and walking through my front door brought immediate satisfaction.
The main side effect I experienced from this was -slight aphasia. In my eyes, this was right up there with losing the function of one of my limbs. I know it may sound a little vain but communication is one of my strongest attributes. As I sat alone in complete silence, I would speak aloud – searching for the right word and annunciation. Each day I became more frustrated and withdrawn because I wasn’t 100%. No matter how much better others said I was, there was no I could accept it.
The doctor had referred me to speech therapy but I was waiting for them to reach out to me with an appointment date. In the meantime, through my Googling, I learned that continuous communication would help my chances of strengthening/curing my ailment. I didn’t want people to hear me like this but I knew I had A LOT to be thankful for considering what I had been through.
Saturday was my 1st full day out, I got dressed and went to get my nails done. Once I returned home, I received a call from the security desk with a delivery. The kind people from my job sent me a welcome home present. I could just eat up all the kindness I was feeling, no LITERALLY. This was just what the doctor ordered. I needed to do better with my eating habits and fruit never hurt anyone. A few family members came over to share in the get well greeting.
I wanted to get back to work. I needed to feel normal again. After a few long conversations with a good friend, it was decided that I would work from home for a few days then return. Monday morning, I slid into the office picked up a few things I needed and was whisked outside to prevent me from taking on any additional assignments. While at home, I realized I needed this time. My body was still tired from the uncomfortable hospital and early morning test. It felt good to be of some assistance to my team again. They all instructed me to take as much time as I needed. They knew more than I did because I hadn’t thought about the 99 follow-up visits. They all stopped by to check on me and wish me well. This was appreciated but I didn’t wanna feel like an invalid. Moreover, being back at work has certainly assisted with overcoming the slight aphasia I was diagnosed with my the doctor.
Mission: Take pills as instructed. I hate taking medication because I believe the body it so sophisticatedly independent – it doesn’t need any help getting better. Not so this time, I was ordered to take what I would consider to be a fist full of meds.
Taking this medicine was almost as frustrating as the aphasia. I had alarms everywhere. The pills were on the dining room table and I felt like shit if I forgot to take them. Then one day while out on a Sunday afternoon to get some air, he asks “Mom, what happened to your legs?” I’m completely oblivious. I look down and around and-
The bruising caused by the Plavix and aspirin combination was too much and I fell into a depression. I struggled with if I had bumped myself by accident, should I look into getting some of those foam boots I wore in the hospital or stopping the meds. Which one do you think won? If you guessed stopping the meds, you’re absolutely right. My vanity was taking control of me. I reached out to my doctor and she gave me the green light to stop taking the Lipitor. I continued to take the Plavix and the bruising continued. It wasn’t until I went back to for my stroke follow-up that I was instructed to continue the Lipitor and aspirin to stabilize the cholesterol. It was during this visit, I was referred to psychology. Check out the reason he thought I might need it. Ya think!?
I never used this and by this time I had been to the speech therapist. She was very comforting and gave me some good information on what I could do for continued strengthening of my vocabulary and communication skills. By this time, I was experiencing sporadic episodes of “not being able to find the right word.” I had to get better.
Mission: Look for alternative ways to stay alive. I’m sure many of you can guess this hasn’t been easy on my family. I’m so young and we have a history of stroke in our family. More than that, we have a long life expectancy. I mean my mother is 70 still cruising around doing her own thing. One night The Kid walks in after football practice and says, “I can’t go away to college and you’re sick.” No truer words have been spoken by a mother, ‘I’m going to be fine. You go on and live your life.’ This put me on a task like nothing else had already done. I have to stay healthy. Not only for me but mainly to keep this stress off of him. The main concern of the doctor is controlling the cholesterol. I can do that! I MUST do this.
Here’s what I have learned in my short recovery:
These are the signs of stroke. I have to table my fear of the hospital and bills. If they could put all my medical info at the dentist office, I’d be alright. 🙂 I need to be open with those around me if I should have such an episode in the future. Time is the most important thing. (If you pay attention to the first image in this post. You’ll see I’m extremely blessed to even be typing this right now.) There are NO signs of severe stenosis and no apparent reason to consider the surgical removal of the ulceration. I have a be a little more patient with myself and keep my phone charged (ain’t no telling where I may need to go). I like the way it was explained to me. “A stroke is like and accident on the freeway. There will be traffic while they are trying to clear it up and traffic begins to move as if nothing had happened. The wait is determined by the size of the wreckage.” I just had a small fender bender and I have to be more careful to prevent a pile-up. This happened to me to force me into a lifestyle change. I need to eat healthier – bottom line. My cholesterol isn’t bad but I need to get back to the gym to assist with this, as well. Most importantly, I made the decision to NOT have any siblings for my son and by God, he will not be alone until the creator is satisfied my purpose has been completed.