A year ago today, I was battling my left sided numbness…again. It started with my leg, then spread to my arm and eventually I could feel decreased sensation in my face. Brian and I discussed going to the doctor on day three but decided to wait one additional day…plus I couldn’t miss my daughter’s Cinderella play where she was performing as the Wicked Stepsister. She did a great job and we had a fun afternoon despite not feeling 100% and hitting my wall of tired/agitation at the end of the full day. I came home that night thinking that I had better go to sleep quickly since my left side was still numb.
On the morning of March 16, 2015, I woke up with my left side still numb and that gut feeling that I needed to do something. After all, as a National Spokeswoman, my primary health message to others is the importance of taking action when something doesn’t feel right. How could I not follow my own advice!?
So, I threw some clothes on and knew I had to call the doctor. I knew that the doctor’s office didn’t open until 9am so I headed to Target after dropping the kids off at school. I wanted to do the few things I had planned so I could go to the hospital without a list hanging over my head. We needed milk and I wanted to get Lucky Charms for my kids for St. Patrick’s Day breakfast. As I walked around Target, I realized that I didn’t feel well- especially when I avoided talking to everyone I knew. My head was throbbing, my left side felt numb and I knew a trip to the doctor (at least) was inevitable.
On the way home, I left a message with my rheumatologist. I then called my local neurologist who informed me I should go to the Emergency Room.
“Can I just come in and see the doctor?”
“He’s not available today and you should go to the ER.” I was in disbelief.
So off I went with the promise of my Mom meeting me at the hospital. Brian was at work but waiting for me to call if needed.
Through my work with the American Heart Association, I knew that RI Hospital was a top rated comprehensive stroke center. I knew that was where I needed to go. It was a rough start parking at the very chaotic parking garage at the Rhode Island Hospital Emergency Room. It took me over twenty minutes to get a parking spot: I’m lucky quick action wasn’t needed.
I was happy to have my Mom with me at the hospital. Still, I was panicked and flooded with memories of my past hospital visits in my early twenties. Plus, this time I knew I had a family. It wasn’t as much about me as it was about being sure the kids are okay. Thankfully, I was able to cover school pick up and activities with a simple text to my friends.
The day was an emotional roller coaster. Initially, the doctors were surprised when I said that I had left sided numbness and worried about stroke. They took me a bit more seriously once I said I had already had three. They moved through the motions of an admission- taking vital signs, bloodwork, urine samples and many questions. After two hours, my rheumatologist finally called and forcefully ordered a Cat Scan and EKG. A bevy of doctors passed through my room and ended with the neurologist explaining that I was being admitted for a stroke.
I tried to stay strong but my panic kicked in as my face immediately became flushed and I started to tear up. I can’t be going through this again. What if my disease is back? How do I stay calm and composed? Thankfully my Mom and brother comforted me with a hug.
I then asked the doctor to clarify. “So, you think this could be a fourth stroke but will be doing more tests overnight to see if this might not be true?” Yes, he confirms.
As the doctor leaves the room, I burst into tears thinking that CNSV is back and how I will have to start treatment again. What will the kids think? Will I be okay? Who will pick them up from school? What will they think when I am not home to tuck them into bed?
This is terrible.