The holidays are a busy time with Christmas cards to write, shopping to do and decorations to place. Our Christmas celebration ended and we were enjoying Grandma and Grandpa’s company. It is always fun when they stay with us. The Sugar Snaps were delighted to have Grandma and Grandpa’s loving attention and enthusiasm. We went to sleep after a nice Christmas Day. Capri and Grayson threw up during the night. We changed their sheets and took care of them. The morning of the 26th, we gave them baths and then were in the process of getting them dressed when my left hand went entirely numb and my index finger twitched dramatically up and down. My vision blurred for a second or two. I felt a sudden heaviness in my left arm as if it had gained five pounds in a matter of seconds. I remember studying neuropsychology in graduate school and even considered it as a specialty on my road to becoming a psychologist. I know these are potential signs of a stroke.
I probably would have convinced myself that it was nothing if it were not for the Sugar Snaps. It is my personality to not want to be high maintenance and waste the doctors’ time. Being a Mama has changed my perspective. I knew I needed a doctor to tell me it was ‘nothing’ and I was not qualified to make that decision. So, Greg took me to urgent care while Grandma and Grandpa watched the Sugar Snaps. The urgent care was packed with people coughing and looking generally miserable. It took a long time to see the doctor. Once I got in, the doctor told me I should have gone directly to the ER. Urgent care is not qualified to test me or to help me if I had a stroke. He advised me to take an ambulance to the ER (which was just down the street). Greg drove me there instead.
When we arrived at the ER at the hospital where Capri was born, I began to explain why I was there and they already knew. The doctor from urgent care had called to let them know I was on my way. After a few tests that came out not showing any major problems, to my surprise, they decided to admit me…over night. I had only been away from the Sugar Snaps for one night when we went to the ocean when they were smaller and my parents took care of them. I do preschool with them at home. I am with them almost all the time. Whenever Capri is scared of falling in the potty, she announces, “Mama’s not going anywhere. I’m not going to fall.” I assure her, “you’re not going to fall. Mama’s not going anywhere.” The thought of being away from them in a hospital was upsetting, especially when they were sick. I had every test imaginable, including an Electrocardiogram with electrodes and gel all over my head which dried and left my hair looking sticky and gross. Who cares how your hair looks in the hospital really…but it is one of those things where I felt even more aware of how out of control my life had instantly become. My looks mirrored how I felt inside.
My roommate was in her 80’s and had suffered a second stroke. She had trouble communicating the most basic information, such as her name and what month it is. It reminded me of my Grandma who had a stroke several years ago. She is trapped inside her body unable to share what she is thinking much of the time. She is frustrated that she knows what she wants to say and cannot say it. I wondered if this would be my future.
One of my nurses told me I was his healthiest patient. He thought I would surely be discharged after the first night. I thought so too. When the doctor came in and told me I was staying for another night (third day), I began to cry as soon as he left the room. I wanted to go home so badly. I was hooked up to an IV in my arm with fluid. I had to roll the cart with a bag of fluid attached to my arm each time I needed to use the restroom and it tended to beep for the nurses whenever I moved. I learned to hold my arm in such a way where it beeped less. I did not want the machine announcing to my roommate, her family, and the nurses whenever I used the bathroom.
We did not want the Sugar Snaps to visit all at once due to the potential for them to get sick by touching everything in sight. Capri visited me with Greg and “read” me a story from the hospital literature about how she loved Mama and Daddy and missed her brothers who were at home. She admired my hospital ‘bracelet’ and did not seem bothered that I was hooked up to the IV. The next day, Grayson and Ryder paid me a visit and felt like big kids when they tucked me in to my hospital bed. We decided not to have Xadyen come in as he was the most likely to touch everything and push every button he could find.
I was discharged yesterday and diagnosed with a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) and will follow up with the hematologist and the neurologist. The most common stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking, birth control pills, older age and being male did not apply to me. I found out my history of possible blood clotting leading to miscarriages (which you may have read in our story), my Mom’s history of a blood clot and my history of migraines were risk factors. Stress can also be related. These don’t appear on most of the risk factor checklists you find on the internet. It felt so good to come home and hug each of the Sugar Snaps for a long time. I want to be here for them. This was an eye opening experience that things can change in an instant. I want it to keep my promise that “Mama’s not going anywhere.”
Have you (or anyone in your family) had any health scares? I would love to read your stories in the comments.