Having achieved most of what I had set out to do from my young adulthood onward, I was reasonably satisfied with my life’s trajectory. I was doing well, had found an almost stable relationship, and was working away at my career. The migraines would disappear for a while, only to return with a blinding vengeance. I found myself in a hospital one afternoon after being brought in by ambulance, as one of my girlfriends had encountered a pile of me lying on my kitchen floor. I would later learn that I had a TIA (trans ischemic attack). aka mini stroke. I was kept in hospital for all of three days after being subjected to a litany of tests. The conclusion being that I was a lucky girl. (sound familiar? It gets better) I had a fluke of an attack and my blood pressure must have been higher than normal etc. (According to medical science) I should be just fine to return to work asap.
Thinking I may have dodged a bullet, I continued where I left off and worked my usual overtime shifts at the hospital. That is, until I received a phone call from a neurologist that I had been referred to for follow-up. Apparently I did indeed have a brain injury on the left side of my head (as well as some unique facial scaffolding) as they found some old scar tissue and…a vascular anomaly and a section that he clearly described as leakage. I thought this was just great. I questioned what all of that meant, and what was to be done etc. to which he replied “Two choices, wait and see, or referral to another specialist (surgeon) if the symptoms of your TIA become unmanageable (meaning loss of speech, sight.hearing or unusual incidences of falling”. I see, so like a stroke…groovy.
Having all of this to consider, I did what I thought was best and went directly back to my career and busy life. A day came when I was at my desk at work talking to a client when I completely forgot who they were, and why I was talking with them. I dropped my coffee into my lap. I checked in with myself, and wondered if I was having a seizure, a stroke, did I have a migraine now? Being that it was almost time to leave work for the day, I canceled the balance of my appointments and made my way home. I called my neurologists office and left a message, then called a friend who drove me to the emergency department.
I was a familiar face to some of the folks who worked in the local hospitals ER. I described what had happened to me in the best detail I was able, informed the intake nurse of my recent TIA, neurologists name and the medications I was taking. The list included a medication for hypertension. After a few minutes I was seen by an intern, then by another doctor, and then by a “specialist” all agreed I was having yet another migraine attack, gave me the requisite medications, shuffled me into a dark cold room in a side alcove and let me lie there for what may have been a few hours. I couldn’t tell, as I was not walking on this planet any longer due to the meds they had given me. I was released a short time later with a referral to my neurologist and family doctor for a medication adjustment.
After seeing my family doctor, and my neurologist I was told that I was hypertensive, and had my meds doubled. That seemed to do the trick, as I went back to work the next day. I felt so great! Never better…except for this nasty issue with my right hand, occasionally my hand and arm would not obey my brain’s commands and let go of almost anything without warning. I phoned my doctor, and informed him of this new development, he informed me that “Occasionally delayed paresthesia and numbness occurs after what you’ve been through recently”. Groovy I thought, now I’m going to have to invest in a medical reference course. “But on the bright side, you’re young, and this may take care of itself”. I felt betrayed and alone, and angry that this was happening to me, and I was becoming just another woman with strange headaches…just like my mother?