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what a stroke looks like from the inside–part two

So, I meant to finish up my story a while back, but as it turns out, one of the side effects of a stroke is being tired—like really tired—all the time.  When you add in work, school, and doctors’ appointments, that means I’m drained the majority of the time.  If you missed the first part of my story, you can find it here.  But here goes….

I woke up the next day, a little before noon.  I was intubated and my hands were restrained (I had my appendix taken out when I was 11, and I might have pulled out the tube when I woke up.  Having the tube put back in while awake = not fun.) Anyway.  I knew right away I was in the hospital, but I had no idea why.  My parents and Baby Brother were there.  Obviously, I couldn’t talk, but I remember them talking to me, telling me they’d take the tube out soon.  She also told me “Bubba is here.  And he brought your nephew.”  I was coherent enough to think:  “Why is he here? He lives 600 miles away!”

The next think I remember is my mom bringing in one of my friends from work, who was crying her eyes out.  Then, later, some of my friends from my old job.  I had my contacts out by this time, but I recognized their voices.  Turns out, they’d been at the hospital with my family most of the time.  The Saint was in NYC, but one of them called so I could “talk” to her, reassure her.  Then the Cynic and another close friend of ours.  My family, of course.  They were almost always by my side.  And later that evening, the Diva and “our” husband, who were some of the first people my mom called.

The next day, I was a little more with it.  Some women from therapy came to get me up, and were shocked I could walk by myself.  I got to meet my nephew—he was 4 months old then—and he is SO cute!  Most of my hospital stay is a blur.  I slept a lot.  I couldn’t use my right hand much at all.  I started learning how to eat left-handed.  I had a lot of visitors and phone calls (many of my patients called to check on me).  I got out of the hospital 5 days later and went home with my mom.

I cannot image how difficult the day of my stroke was for my friends and family.  At the hospital, they gave me tPA (the stroke drug), but it didn’t seem to help.  Actually, my symptoms worsened.  Late that night, the doctor told the nurses that something else was going on, and he was going in.  He told my parents there was a 98% fatality rate for my condition.  IF I lived, they didn’t know if I would wake up.  If I somehow woke up, they didn’t know what condition I’d be in.  I woke up about 12 hours later, able to see, talk, and move.  I knew who I was and who everyone around me was.

As it turns out, I had two clots in my brain and a tear in my left vertebral artery.  I now have four stents there, and I’ll be on aspirin the rest of my life. I have reduced sensation on the right side of my body, but it’s improving.  I have tingling pretty much all the time on that side.  2 ½ weeks after my stroke, I was back in the E.R. (at the orders of my neurologist’s nurse) because the tingling had gotten worse and I’d had a mild headache for two days.  They think the right artery had dissected as well, but it was so small they could only treat it with medications for a few days.  I stayed in the hospital 4 days that time.  Since then, I’ve had an angiogram to check on my stents (they looked great).  I started working again (14 hour shifts are tough under the best circumstances.  Now…I don’t even have the words.)  The school semester started.  (I did switch to online classes this semester—French, German, and Spanish 2.)  I went back to the E.R. a week ago with some brief vision changes (doctor’s orders), but everything is fine.  Stents are great, no signs of stroke.  I’ve had blood work and other tests done, and none of the doctors know what caused my stroke.  My neurologist calls me a miracle.

Let me say this:  no matter what your personal beliefs are, I know that the only reason I survived is because of God.  He was there with me–giving me that feeling of peace—through it all.  There is a reason I had the stroke, despite being “too young” and there not being a cause.  God has a plan for this, a plan to prosper.  There is no doubt in my mind.


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