My Terrifying Day
I went to bed at 10:45 Monday night feeling good. I’d just finished a 4 day stint in Roswell with my 15 year old son Christian. I’d had a good day at work, a nice short run, and even opted to head back to Brookhaven to relax instead of attending my usual Monday night meeting. I was excited about Tuesday. Am coffee, a nice training run, lunch with my great friend Jack, and a half day of work. I actually had a casual dinner date set up for Tuesday night! All was well. I was at the peak of my 1/2 Marathon training schedule, fit, fast, and uninjured. I’d even discovered an awesome masseuse (Amber Klippel) and found a superb running group (BPRUNNERS)
I awoke at 12:45 or so, and I got up to pee, normal for me. Everything was fine. I recall thinking… Oh it’s early still, I have many hours to sleep… Bonus!
But at 5am I woke up because I was uncomfortable. I was hot, and I felt strange, but mostly my left arm was asleep. Really asleep. Being in the twilight, I grabbed my own wrist and sat up thinking, this is not right. Then I noticed my left side face felt numb. I confusedly tried to imagine which motor nerve I might have slept on that would cause both to be numb: NONE. And as the symptoms rapidly intensified I knew I was having a medical emergency.
I tried to get up to get my phone to call downstairs to Frank… And managed to knock a cup full of pencils to the floor in the process. Frank was asleep, and I was trying really hard to enunciate but failing. I knew I couldn’t walk and didn’t want to fall, so, phone in hand, I got on all fours and starting trying to call out for help. Mike, who I didn’t know was home, came immediately, opened the door and said,” Aw dude, we need to call EMS.”. Frank was up too, and already diagnosed my stroke. Meanwhile I was in the throes of not being able to deal with paralysis, apologizing for waking people up, and trying and failing at focusing outside myself. It was a mess.
It took 10-11 minutes for EMS to arrive, and off I went in the ambulance. In the ER, I was asked a series of questions related to the timing of the incident do determine if I could be given TPA. I was quickly placed it the CT unit… Then back to the ER while a room was readied in the stroke unit. During this time, I noticed my fingers tingling. Frank saw me move my fingers and was hugely encouraged. Within a few minutes my face was normal (this is a subjective self evaluation, please hold your comments about my face) and I could move my arm and leg.
Up I went to the room feeling as good as new. It felt like a miracle. I went through the battery of tests and met everybody… And was left alone in my room at 8:45 am. Then I felt a strange warmth, and a heaviness, and like I somehow knew it was happening a 2nd time. I called to my nurse, and she came running. She started testing me, I was fine… But I knew I wasn’t, and she got the doctor. By the time he came in I was numb again. Face, arm, hand and leg. And this time I was crushed. He tried to calm me, but there was no way. To me, I was now dealing with a whole new entity… Something which could come and go, and which could box me in without killing me. I have never been so afraid.
They ordered a Stat MRI with contrast, and gave me 1 mg Ativan IV. That calmed me down and again the symptoms receded. Instead of the MRI they decided to start a heparin drip, and began tests. Lots of vial of blood for cholesterol lipid profiles, and any number of clotting issues. They did a carotid Doppler, and a bubble test for heart wall integrity… My dear friend Jennah literally rushed over as soon as Frank left, knowing I shouldn’t be all alone – a real heart of gold. Later Jack and Kimberly came by. Kimberly hung out all afternoon. A huge relief. Royal brought me coffee. David and Lenora came by. Frank brought toiletries, and he stayed until I fell asleep. My friends rock.
I was kept in observation overnight. Frank brought me coffee… Awesome. The heparin drip was removed. I was given Plavix and Pravastatin as well as aspirin. I was checked and tested and checked and tested, and poked, and pressurized, as I should have been. Larry and John came by and hung out… The doctor, while perplexed, was certain I’d make a 100% recovery. I was kept that 2nd night for the MRI and a telemetry unit was placed. Lisa and Christian came by. I couldn’t do the MRI without the 1mg of Atavan… I tried. Sorry but that thing just wigs me out. Frank and Mikey came by and we had a ton of laughs, or at least I think we did.
On the morning of day 3 I felt fine. I was released with the following instructions: take 325mg Aspirin per day, and take Pravastatin. See the cardiologist Friday to be fitted with a cardiac event monitor which assesses atrial arrhythmia’s, a potential source of blood clots. Most interestingly I was told that my running and diet, my overall level of fitness may actually be the reason I was so lucky. John came and got me, Frank brought morning coffee, and both Penny and Mike offered to take me home. Furthermore, the treatment for recovery of stroke is diet and exercise, plus PT and counseling depending on the severity of the damage. I was told to resume my normal activities and that includes running the 1/2 marathon April 28th, but to be particularly aware of symptoms of stroke.
I left the hospital with John and have never been so grateful to take a shower, shave, use my hands or go for a run. My friends calls, texts and visits were truly heartwarming. I’m a guy who doesn’t really see himself as all that lovable… So it’s quite a surprise to get so much love.
And today as I got out of my car, grateful for every breath, I looked down. There was a four leafed clover, just as clear as day. My grandfather always kept these. “heaven winking at you” he would say. Indeed.