I hate to introduce myself this way, but here it goes…
Yesterday was my 9th wedding anniversary, but I didn’t get to celebrate it because I was, at the time, in a hospital bed recovering from something called a “TIA” or “mini-stroke.” I am 45 years old. Tonight, my husband and I went out to a movie and dinner at a Hibachi Steakhouse, so there you have it….That’s why they call it a “mini” stroke. No permanent damage. The “T” stands for “transient.”
My symptoms may be of interest to you, just in case, God forbid, you should find yourself in the same situation and are unsure about what to do. I was pouring a glass of milk for my daughter when I noticed an extreme weakness in my left arm, hand and fingers. It was difficult to grip the glass, and my hand was trembling. My heartbeat felt faster, and I became a bit breathless as I called first my mother, then a neighbor and finally (thank God!) my doctor’s office, at which point I was told that I needed to be evaluated immediatly in the ER.
I’m telling you, it really didn’t feel all that serious–just strange. So I took my sweet time about getting to the hospital, and I was expecting that they would probably just look at me and send me home. Instead, they performed a CT scan and determined, after several hours of investigation and bloodwork, etc. that I had suffered a mini-stroke, or TIA. I was given aspirin and sent home with instructions to rest and to call them back if I experienced more symptoms.
No sooner had I gotten back to my house and begun to pour myself a soda, my left arm became weak again and began to tremble. I could not make a fist, and my speech felt labored as I told my mother, who was still there, thank goodness, that it was happening again.
Back to the hospital, where I was admitted for 24 hours, during which time, I had an MRI of my brain, an ultra sound of my neck arteries, an echocardiogram and several neurological workups.
Today, they sent me home. After doing a bit of research on the Web, I found out that I am very likely (1/3) to have another episode in the near future–that, or a full-out stroke. I am terrified. I want to be here for my children, and I feel like a walking time bomb now. I am afraid to watch the news because I frequently get upset over speeches, election lies, bickering.
At the hibachi house tonight, I jumped every time a startling flame surprised me at one of the tables in the room, and I worried about the salt content in the food.
This sucks, but I’m grateful to be alive. And not in Galveston.
It’s a new day, and I’m still here, thank God!
My three year-old charged into my room this morning before 7am, kicking the door open with her foot with such force that it slammed against the wall. She was happy to see me. And hungry. “Daddy” was snoring loudly from his used to be temporary abode in the guest bedroom and showed no signs of being ready to wake up and handle one very manically happy and hungry three year-old and one sleepy, grumpy 7 year-old, so I shuffled down the steps and into our freezing cold kitchen to make breakfast.
Did I mention the mini-stroke that I had three days ago? Actually, it was the least exciting ailment this year. Last September, shortly after moving into our new highly unaffordable “dream house” in the country, I experienced a cluster of tiny heart attacks that kept the ambulance circling our block for a few weeks. In and out of the hospital for most of the Fall, I was finally starting to feel confident again when the TIA pulled me right back in to the worried that i won’t be there for them mom mode.
By the way, my little heart attacks were NOT caused by a blockage, but rather by a phenomenon called a coronary vasospasm associated with a rare condition known as “Prinz Metal’s Angina Syndrome.” Most people with this weird little syndrome don’t actually have heart attacks-just chest pain–but I was one of the lucky 3 percent with the condition to actually have the blood supply to my heart shut down for long enough to cause a bit of damage. Three times.
So now I’m on calcium channel blockers, and according to my cardiologist, that should do the trick. If I don’t die from a stroke, that is. God forbid.
My kids are young, and I have so much to do. Like go downstairs again and make pancakes. Later