Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving - Day 8

I awoke with yet another surprise! I could actually open my mouth completely for the first time since the incident. May seem simple, but I really couldn't make an "O" with my mouth prior to today. And today I did. :) It was also the very first day I did not feel lightheaded or "odd" all day long. I really believe I am on my way to a total recovery.

Just in time for Thanksgiving.

Enjoyed two Thanksgiving meals. One at home with my immediate family at noon -- and another at night with extended family at my sister's house.

If there's a down side - it's that my left eye is still quite sensitive. It's watered all evening long. But that's about it.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Moving forward

As I think about this thing that happened to me - I am very grateful for one thing..... that it happened to me and not someone I love.

What happened after the hospital....... I'll catch you up to date.

Friday - Day 2

Home to rest. Looking in the mirror was so odd. For someone who has always been known for her smile, it was strange to see someone else in the mirror -- someone who was not smiling back at me. But that was not my main problem. Ialso didn't feel right -- I was lightheaded, dizzy, and very weak. Just to walk from my bed to the kitchen took a lot of effort.

One obvious thing is that my left eye would not close whatsoever. No blinking, no shutting. Nada. This made the eye very uncomfortable - with light, dust, wind, heat, cold -- everything.
So I had to shut my eye manually with my finger every so often. (and use artificial tears drops)
I tried to watch a half hour television show and it took me more than an hour - I had to keep stopping it. Computer screen too - was hard on the eyes - or should I say, eye.

I noticed one other thing too. My left ear was super sensitive to noise. Not regular noise but "loud" noises. When my little dog, Dakota, barked -- I swear I had an amplifier next to my ear. It hurt so bad!! I had lost the fluid from my tympanic membrane -- therefore, there's nothing to muffle the sound.

I was also concerned about work -- being the workaholoic that I am, I wanted to get right back to work and planned on being there Monday. That was my plan.

Saturday/Sunday Day 3 and 4

It became clear that there was no way I could be at work Monday. Not only did the lightheadedness continued, but I soon realized I couldn't talk well, I couldn't eat well, and I was having a hard time drinking liquids. My eye continued to bother me - ALOT.
I also found that I was starting to hurt myself -- I would unconciously try to rub my eye and actually touch the eyeball itself. Happened a few times.
I worked on some physical therapy - facial exercises - but they were frustrating. No matter how hard I tried, nothing happened.
I spent much of the weekend in bed. I couldn't read but I did log onto FaceBook every so often - not too bad as long as I did not spend more than five minutes at a time on it.

I also did something stupid on Saturday night - I went to see Harry Potter. BIG MISTAKE.
Not only was the flashing light horrible for my eyesight, the noise was almost unbearable. But I did it for Marisa. And I ended up huddling my ear against the seat (which muffled the noise) and with one hand closed my left eye. Eventually I fell asleep and I missed most of the movie, so that wasn't so bad.
When I got home, I had to tape my eye down almost immediately - it was so tired.

Sunday - more of the same tiredness. I wanted to go out and test my driving ability - but there was no way - I couldn't even walk straight, let alone drive.
On the plus side, my drinking ability has improved. I can now successfully, with minimal spilling, drink from a cup like a big girl.

Monday - Day 5
I can close my eye! I can close my eye! With a bit of effort, anyway. But hey, I'll take it. Very exciting. I still can't blink but I can close my left eye. If I try several times, it gets harder.
I saw my doctor today - he was very happy with the eye progress.
He also doubled my medication, which was necessary to control my blood pressure, but suddenly I found myself double exhausted. It is so debilitating to be on them. I hate it.
The prednisone I was placed on makes me sick too. Yuk. Hate those pills. They are soooo bitter.

Tuesday - Day 6
I'm getting tired of soup. I've had nothing but soup for five days. I am craving a taco.
At work, Tuesday is Taco Tuesday. What I wouldn't give to bite down on a crunchy taco.
Eating remains difficult. My mouth does not open properly and I keep biting the top of my left lip. But I remain optimistic.
Also - my lower left lip started quivering today. Not sure what it meant but I took it as a good sign.

Wednesday - Day 7
Woohoo! I looked in the mirror this morning. I woke up with a tiny smile - small upturn to left lip visible - and possible! I was so excited. Dont almost effortless.
I still have my lopsided smile on the outside but inside, I feel as if it's a great, big, even smile!
I know I will get there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Excuse me, am I in Las Vegas?

Note: If you want to read these stories in sequence, start with
1. A funny thing happened after work Wednesday
2. Emergency Room Visit - "There's an 8-percent chance you will die."
3. Exuse me, am I in Las Vegas?

Exuse me, am I in Las Vegas?3:45 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 18
I decided not to write too much here about the transfer from the emergency room to my semi-private room in the cardiac/telemetry unit of the hospital. It was not pleasant -- nor were the next 16 hours that followed any better.

But I will say that you would have never guessed that I was in a hospital. Bright lights, loud noises, including a blaring television all night long, beepings from all directions, clanking, constant hitting of my bed, and freezing room!! And those were the more positive things I can say about the experience.

I'll leave it at that for now. Some things are just too horrible to mention -- and I experienced a couple of those not so nice things during those first few hours. (had to do with roommate care)

But I will share a couple of "funny" moments (if you can call it that) that happened during my stay. Not in any particular order.

Nurse walks in: "Would you like some reading material?"
Me: "Yes! Thank you." (I lOVE to read)
Nurse: hands me a booklet "After your stroke" and walks out.
What the ???? -- I mean, ok, but it just seemed weird.

My mirror on my bed table was broken.
me to nurse: "Oh no! My mirror is broken."
She looks at it, "It's not so bad."
(it was totally shattered in one section and had a huge crack all the way through it.)
me: "It doesn't seem very safe. This glass can get on the table and into my food. Can you please find me another bed table."
Nurse: "I don't think that's necessary. It's not like you need it."
WHAT the ??? -- come on now - just what every girl who just suffered through what I did, wants to hear.
Nurse: "I'll see if we have another table, otherwise I'll have to send someone from maintenance to pick it up."

Man walks in with clipboard and tells me his name, which I can't remember.
Man: "I need to look at your laptop."
(I honestly thought he was kidding.)
Me: "Are you from Maintenance?"
Man, looking annoyed: "Why do you say that?"
Me: "Are you here for my mirror? It's broken really bad. It's dangerous."
Man: "I'm here to look at your computer or you will have to put it away. It might be interfering with the equipment."
Me: "Oh, sorry. I thought you were kidding."
Man: "Why would I kid you?" (but he sounded so angry. Geesh.)
He then grabbed it off my lap and turned it around, put a blue sticker on it that said "Electrical Safety tested" and walked out. If it WAS interfering, he never checked it to know. He just slapped the sticker on. (of course, I had a new laptop)
Me: "What about my mirror?" (I thought he was rude but I wanted to joke)
Him: "I'll put an order in for it. It will take about 7 days to get it fixed."

Me: "Nurse, this IV is bleeding all over me" (as I wipe it up with a towellette.)
Nurse: "That's normal" (What the????)
Me: "Ok - if you want blood all over the place." (it was literally rolling down my arm!!)
Nurse: "Why didn't you tell me it was bleeding." (she tapes over it/pushes it in further.)
Me: "That's it? It's kind of messy. It's all over my gown and all over the sheets." (referring to blood)
Nurse: "We'll take care of it when we come freshen your bed and get you set up for a bath."

Well.....they never came. i spent the whole time in the hospital with a bloody gown in a bloody bed (literal) and no one ever changed it nor offered to give me a clean gown. I was really tempted to sign out AMA.

Lunch was late -- 1:30 p.m. (and since I never ate breakfast because the nurses decided to change the diaper of my roommate - who was a handicapped woman in diapers and the smell was absolutely horrific - I was starving.) Of course, when lunch arrived, the nurses came in and did their thing again -- diaper change -- (did they think I could not hear them - they were right next to me -- and they kept talking about how horrible the smell was, describing it too.) So, of course, I couldn't eat. Too disgusting.

When I went to get my MRI/MRA -- I was gone more than an hour -- we had to stop at the front desk to get disconnected from my wires. The nurse reached under my gown and then lifted my gown and in front of everyone "ripped" the stuff off me.

OK -- I was totally embarrassed!! There must have been at least eight people there -- all workers but some were male.

"STOP!" I yelled. "Can't we do this in the room?" (I really had no idea I was getting wheeled to the nurses' station to have that done to me.) The nurse mumbled an "all done." and they wheeled me away fast. I covered my face. I was so embarrassed and I cried silently all the way to the unit -- which was across a small plaza. Luckily the guy who picked me up gave me a sheet to cover up with and I literally draped it over my head. I didn't want anyone seeing me. We went down the elevator, through a lobby full of people, into the plaza, across a small street thing and into another building. It was probably one of the worst things to happen to me.

When I returned to my room -- my bed was still bloody. My lunch tray was still on the bedside table and the mirror was still broken. My gown was still bloody too. But by now, I didn't care. All I wanted to do was to get out of that hellish place they called a hospital.

When the physical therapist and his female assistant arrived -- which by the way, was the funnest part of the whole visit (and he made me laugh a lot and vice versa) -- I told him I was ready to go home. That I was signing out AMA.

Then neurologist came by with my results and said I did not have a stroke and I can be moved to another room. YAY!! I was so excited. I needed to get out of that room.

Nurse came in - hospital full. I would have to stay in the room through the night. I had not slept in more than 24 hours, I was in pain, exhausted and humiliated by then...... I couldn't stay. I said no. I wanted to go home.

My doctor came in on rounds, and said I could stay the night or go home if I preferred. I said I'd go home......

UPDATE: A month later, my bill for my one-day stay came in. That one night cost more than $44,000! And since I make less than $2k a month as a hometown news reporter, it would take me two years of work to pay it off! Thank God for health insurance - but still, after insurance - my part was $11,000 - and it still took me two years to pay it off. But I did. :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Emergency Room visit - "There's an 8-percent chance you will die."

Note: First read prior post - "A funny thing happened after work Wednesday."

Emergency Room Visist - "There's an 8-percent chance you will die."
10:15 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17

When the experience first happened, my first thought was Bells Palsy. But, the blood pressure gave me a fright.... so my thought as I rushed to the E.R. was "stroke"

I got to the window....

"What are you being seen for?"

"I think I'm having a stroke. My blood pressure is 200/104, I'm having tingling and numbness to right arm and I have blurry vision -- plus I can't see at all out of my left eye.

"Fill these out and bring them back to this window when you're done."

"Are you serious? I just told you I can't see clearly." (I answered calmly and sweetly.)

"If you need help, return to the window and someone will assist you."

I took the closest seat and could not see the form anymore. I got as far as writing my name when James entered. I called him and he rushed over to meet me and get Marisa from me. He filled out the paperwork for me. I returned it to the window. Pretty weak by now. I really thought I would pass out.

Lucky for me, they took everything more serious after they saw my paperwork (or maybe me) and called me in instantly.

Suddenly I was a priority. It was not too busy that night but they still placed me in the trauma - or cardiac - unit and I was immediately clipped to a hundred wires.

They were very thorough. Within minutes, my vitals were taken, an ekg was done, a heparin lock installed in my arm, a chest xray had been done, lab work drawn, they told me I was scheduled for a Cat Scan and that the doctor would see me soon and the on-call neurologist would also see me.

Then they said a stroke consultant was coming in.

She walked in, looked around, walked out and said "where's the patient" -- they pointed to me and she said, "Oh. You're too young for a stroke."

Yeah, I know.

The "stroke consultant" - who looked all of 20 years of age, tested me on time, date, President, a simple little drawing I had to explain, etc. I passed with flying colors.

What I didn't pass was the sobriety test that followed -- put arms up, make circles, hold still.... left arm - no matter how hard I tried to keep it up -- my left arm kept pulling down with gravity.

Yikes - not a good sign.

Then - off to the CAT scan -- (I'll keep results of that to myself.)

The doctor came in, said the neurologist was not available until morning.

He explained my CAT scan result and then proceeded to poke me with a needle -- on the right face cheek, and left. I felt the right, not the left....and so he went down the body, arm, legs, to ankles......I could feel the right, but not the left.

He said I had an option to take a certain (very dangerous) medication. It can only be offered within three hours of stroke onset. AND - I was very lucky to be one of the few people who go straight in and do all the testing. I was having a stroke, apparently. He also said there is an 8-percent chance I could die from taking the medicine if it backfired. (mortal side effect)
I declined it. I told him I didn't think I had a stroke. He agreed with my declining - saying he personally did not recommend it because I was not "serious" enough but that he still had to offer it and he still thought I had more of a stroke than Bells Palsy onset because of my lack of feeling in arm and leg and because of the weakness and tingling to my left side.

I was told at 11:30 p.m. that I would be admitted for a stroke - I was scheduled for an MRI and an MRA of the brain and neck veins the next day, so fine -- I'll stay for observation. Afterall, something was definitely not right.

Well, that was about the last time I saw my nurse. (she had been there all along prior to this)
I sent Marisa home with James about 1 a.m.

I soon realized I was freezing. My left eye would not shut and I was staring up at what seemed like a 200-volt light. I tried calling out to the nurse, but nothing. I laid there in a little gown with nothing over me - not even a sheet. (Thank goodness I was wearing yoga exercise pants)

Finally a cleaning person came in and I kindly told her I was freezing and if she could please get me a sheet and turn off the bright lights. She got me the warmest blanket ever - heated - and then turned off the lights for me.

I couldn't rest - no pillow and I was so uncomfortable. I laid there till 3:30 a.m. when I was told my room was ready. I was going to the cardiac unit of the hospital.

That's when my nightmare really begin.......... more tomorrow.

A funny thing happened after work Wednesday.....

Wow - has it really been more than a year since I last blogged anything?

I guess you could say I have been quite busy between two households in two towns and work (since May) - and traveling to and from visiting my two girls in Santa Barbara. There was also a bit of travel involved prior to May.

But something has happened recently to me and I wanted to share it with you. If it ends up helping just one person - great. If not, well, I still want to share it - because it helps ME.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, I went to work like normal. I put in a full day as a news reporter -- loved it, as always. Making the day more special -- I got to cover a story about the Porterville College baseball players who took time out from their day to play ball with a lot of little preschoolers. It was such an awesome day/story.

I also covered a tragic car accident - all in a day's work -- again, not to sound cryptic -- but I love the adrenaline rush of hard news. The man did not survive the wreck and I learned later -- that he was a family friend from church.

Well..... to get to what happened to me.

I came home, had dinner, and relaxed with a cup of coffee. I was drinking it fine when suddenly my mouth felt funny. I didn't think much of it but soon found my left eye watering like crazy and my left nostril running. Then I started drooling.

I went to the rest room to get a tissue and that's when I saw it -- my face. It had totally "fallen" on one side. I tried to talk and couldn't talk right.

I still wasn't about to panic so I went and took my blood pressure (automatic thingie) and when it read 200/104 -- time to panic! Straight to the emergency room I went - lucky for me - that means a whole three blocks. I was there in less than two minutes. Normally, I have low blood pressure. It runs 100/70 and sometimes drops lower than that. I usually take it to make sure it's not too low.

But this is where it gets interesting..... follow me to my next post. (break first)