Saturday, June 22, 2019

Let me tell you about that stoke thing

While I’m killing time, let me tell you all a story. I’ve briefly talking about how the diagnosis came about, but how about some details...

It all started March 17. St Patrick’s Day. About 3am... I woke up, and doing what most people do when they wake up at 3am, I swung my legs out of bed to head to the bathroom. When I stood up, I realized someone was weird, as I slowly sank the the floor. After a few minutes, I was able to crawl to the bathroom and continue about what I needed to do. Then I made my way back to bed, creeping along the vanity countertop, the the wall, until I got back to bed. I laid there for a awhile, noting the my left arm wouldn’t move. I then did the next most logical thing, grabbed my phone and googles “early symptoms of ALS.” Content that stroke-like symptoms weren’t a symptom, and eventually, my arm started working again,  so I tried to go back to sleep.

I’m not an idiot, I knew exactly what was happening. I knew I had 2 hours to get to a stroke center for TPA, but I went back to sleep anyway. Because, I am rather obstinate.

Got up the next morning and everything worked as it should. I thought that was weird, but maybe it was some weird sleep half-paralysis. Obviously it wasn’t a real stroke, because I was walking around just fine. Fast forward to about noon - it happened again. I was in the bathroom, and I stood up and noticed my left leg was numb. Luckily, it was the small bathroom, with a wall right there and the door within arms reach. So I was able to guide myself slowly, and in a controlled manner to the floor. Again, using the logical part of my brain, I grabbed my phone from the sink and texted Kyle that I needed a hand in the bathroom. Being the most excellent husband he is, he showed up a few minutes later with a roll of toilet paper.

Good assumption, Babe, but I just need a bit of help getting up off the floor.

He took one look at me and went to grab the phone. I screamed bloody murder. He did not listen to me (excellent husband marks falling) and called 911 anyway. I swear I would have grabbed that phone from him, if only someone would help me get up from the floor!  The 911 distracted has me repeat a few phases, then he hangs up. And starts to take the dog out so the paramedics can come without issue. Meanwhile I’M STILL ON THE FLOOR OF. THE. BATHROOM.  I can’t let anyone see me this way!!!!

Eventually, he helps me move from the bathroom to the couch 8 feet away. Paramedics arrive 2 minutes later (we live real close), and I proceed to fail about half their tests. Drat. Whee! Off we go to University hospital in downtown Baltimore. Their ED is right next to Baltimore Shock Trauma Center (this will become more relevant in a minute).

By the time we get there, I’m all better. But once you show up in an ambulance with stroke symptoms verified by the paramedics, you are getting the full treatment. Including my own nurse who wasn’t allowed to leave me unattended. About 30 minutes after I get there, it starts happening again. My private nurse goes to grab the doctor, who comes in, looks at me from the door, and says to get neuro ndown here NOW. The neuro resident gets there just in time for me to wave with my left hand and say “you missed it!” He looks at the other neurologist (who did not miss it), she nods, and he starts in about how that actually tells him something, and mentions the stuttering lacunae. While I, of course, google as soon as they leave the room. During this visit they tell me I’m not leaving anytime soon, and to tell my husband to bring me stuff to stay overnight. Great...

Now they are prepping me for an MRI. I taking off all my jewelry, and the nurse starts with the questions:
Pacemaker? No
c Any implants? No
Any metal in your body? No
Every been shot? No (giggle)
What about stabbed? No
Stabbed in the eye? Big no on that one. We have a laugh about being in downtown Baltimore, next to shock trauma.


So I’m off to the MRI, or maybe the CT, I don’t remember which was first. What I remember if that my ED doctor was actually in the same room as the radiology tech. They always show that on TV, but in the plethora of scans I’ve had in my life, I’ve never seen it. So, scan ends and they start debating if they are going to give me TPA. Best case, it fixes this. Worst case, it make the bleed worse. I consent, and they take me back down to the ED.


Now it gets really fun. The neuro resident is yelling at the nurse to start mixing the TPA. And then leave me with them while they are mixing it. He sticks his head back in and asks if it’s done yet, because he wanted it as soon as I came out of the mri. They say 5 minutes. He gets flustered and walks off. 3 minutes later, he comes back “STOP! We aren’t giving it.” The nurses stop and look confused. I just glance over and say “neurologists” with an eye roll. They agreed.

At this point, they decide to set me up with an EEG to look for seizures, and they are admitting me. By the way, it’s stuttered another 4 times by this point. Usually about 20 minutes each time.

About this time, they mention that they did a head and neck CT, and there was something big in my chest they would need to get a better look at later. I don’t even remember this from the ED, but Kyle does. So I guess it happened. They next 2 days are very boring, so I’m just going to skip to the conversation right before they released me.

The scene: Me in the hospital bed eating chicken fingers. I’ve got the neuro Chief Resident, a couple others, and a gaggle do inters/students surrounding me.

Chief resident: So you have an oncologist you see? Me: it’s been 15 years. We had the “have a nice life” discussion about 5 years ago CR: well, the chest CT we did last night definitely showed something in there. You should go see them. Me: But it’s been 15 years! That’s so over. Not a thing anymore CR: maybe, but go see oncology.
Me: but they always said 10 years for a blood cancer
CR: true, it could be several things, but go see oncology Me: [redacted]

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