Coming Clean About My Stroke-Part1

Physical therapy had gone well for my knee, back and hand. I had lived with some friends in NJ since I had separated from my partner in August. I would get picked up on weekends to come back to PA. We would talk about the problems that led to our separation and if there was any possibility of reconciliation. It didn’t really look that way to me, but we continued to talk about it and I continued spending my weekends in PA, from Friday to Sunday.

NOVEMBER 20, 2011

We had just gotten to PA from NJ. I had promised one of my roommates that I would finish the first draft of his term paper on Assisted Suicide for one of his classes. 😦 My ex was in the family room downstairs watching a football game. It must have been about 9pm or so. At some point, I had to go to the bathroom, so I went upstairs. I got up and felt a tremendous heat from the back of my right foot that rose up my body. Then it was like a rubber band snapped the back of my neck. It was the worst pain I had ever felt; yet it only lasted about 30 seconds. Immediately after, I had the worst wave of nausea hit me. I knew that something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t know what. I called out my ex’s name but didn’t get a response until the fourth time I called. At that point, I was practically screaming.

We both worked EMS and as soon as my ex came upstairs, I said I needed to go to the hospital. I don’t usually go to the hospital for anything. I hate hospitals. All I had to say was something is NOT RIGHT and we NEED TO GO NOW. That was all it took. I was in pajamas. I put on my sneakers with help. I could barely walk by myself. My ex got me to the car and helped me into the passenger side, and left. The last thing I remember after leaving the house was reciting the Lord’s Prayer over and over again. We weren’t half way to the hospital before I began to seize in the car and vomit myself. (I was given this information long after my return home from rehab.) My ex considered pulling over to call an ambulance, but knew it would be quicker to haul ass in the car.

I do have some vague memories at the Emergency Department; of being wheeled into the CT room, looking at my left arm jerking uncontrollably and wondering what was going on, doctors and nurses buzzing around me, but not quite comprehending what they were saying to me, hearing a loud whirring noise, feeling huge, heavy headphones on my ears and a flight medic telling me that everything was alright. That was it.

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The CT scan showed an extensive bilateral sub-arachnoid hemorrhage. I was flown by Medivac that night to the nearest Level I Trauma Center because my hospital was not equipped to care for me. In the early morning hours of November 22, I underwent a right frontal craniotomy for the clipping of a pericallosal anterior cerebral aneurysm rupture. I had been re-intubated later in the week secondary to post surgery seizures.

Sometime after surgery, a Hematologist was brought in to check my blood work because some numbers were off. I was diagnosed with an idiopathic case of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP), which is a rare blood disorder that causes blood clots to form in the small blood vessels around the body, and leads to a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). I’d never had any hematological issues in the past, that’s why it is classified as idiopathic in nature (arising spontaneously or from an obscure or unknown cause). I’ll explain more about treatment I underwent in one of the later posts.

The first week and a half after surgery was “wait and see” because there were so many complications. More than once staff had to stop visitation for everyone except immediate family. It was at this point my (full-time) supervisors had a meeting about what to do if the worst case scenario were to play out. . .I died. I worked for the City; even though it is a small one, the EMS agency I worked for (and technically, still do) was close and tight-knit. The EMTs wouldn’t have worked if one of their own had “fallen”. They were figuring out who they would ask to cover the City for my funeral if it were to happen. To this day, I still find myself having difficulty wrapping my brain around how close I came to not being anymore.  Even though I still have bad days when the pain is really bad or I feel depressed because my focus is worse than usual, I know I’m still luckier than a lot of others. The smell of fresh rain, Sophie’s kisses on my cheeks, and the fact that I can still hug my family and friends is a constant reminder to me. I thank and love the Powers that Be (God) always for my second chance at Life.

I went off on a bit of a tangent there, sorry. . .

I will continue with Part 2 in the next few days. I need a breather. Seriously.

Love you guys.


I Think I’m Ready

A few people have asked me about my stroke and for the longest time, it was something I didn’t speak of freely unless it was to people directly involved; doctors, family, and close friends; and even to them I’ve left out a lot of intimate details of what I’ve FELT during this journey to recovery. I’ve talked about it in pretty clinical terms with everyone. Now is as good a time as any to just get it all out there. A very wise Aloha man told me once that when I was ready, I would be able to share. I’m going to do my best; although this is going to take several blog posts. I’m thinking at least four. But before I get into all of that, I think it’s important for me to discuss some events that occurred a few months before my bleed.  I guess this is my warm-up post.

I worked EMS for over a decade. In August of 2011, I ruptured my right ACL at work. I was out on Comp until I was to have surgery. I mention it so everyone is aware that I was already out of work when everything transpired.

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When I used to work doubles and triples. I used a pic where I looked the most tired!!  🙂

THREE MONTHS PRIOR TO HEMORRHAGE (May or may not have been important. I will never know.)

On September 23, 2011, I was driving my roommate’s vehicle to the local convenience store (roughly 1145pm), when I was struck from behind by a speeding drunk driver. He was driving so fast that my roommate’s car wasn’t enough impact to keep him from striking the vehicle in front of me. We both hit it, according to witnesses. It caused a chain reaction; six cars were involved.

My airbags deployed, struck my face. Took out the driver’s side window with my head. Fractured my L2,3 and 4 in my lower back and sprained various muscles and bruised anything and everything in between. The car was a total loss. I was taken to the local hospital. X-rays were taken and I was given a CT scan of my head that came out CLEAN. I was admitted two days for observation and the simple fact that I couldn’t get up off the bed because of the pain in my back.

State Troopers came to the hospital for information from me and advised me that the driver was arrested. He was over twice the legal drinking limit. I was also told that I should consider myself lucky. When my vehicle was struck, the back seat (it was a Tracker, so it’s one long seat) unhinged and popped up, creating a barrier for the front. Had the barrier not been there, the Trooper told me he did not think I would have left the scene. When I saw the car a few days later, I understood exactly what he meant.

After my two-day stint at the hospital, I was given a back brace, some pain medications and told to follow-up with my doctor. That is exactly what I did. I was also referred for more physical therapy. Surgery for my knee was pushed back nearly a month since I wasn’t able to lay on my back and I continued going to physical therapy for both my knee and my back,  and hand (also injured).

It was business as usual for a while. I had my knee surgery performed on October 19th, 2011. Don’t quote me, but I believe that’s the date. It was same day surgery. I was given all the equipment and instructions I would need to help me get through the first week until I started physical therapy the following. It went well considering I was in pain a lot of time. All I knew that I had already been out of work for over two and a half months and I was desperate to go back. Plus, the holidays were coming! 🙂

This was just a brief summary of what went on the last few months before I got sick. I’m going to start my purging with my next post. I think I’m going to call it Coming Clean About My Stroke-Part1. And I suppose the posts after that will be Parts2 through whatever until I get it out of my system.

It’s time. Love you guys!

Almost Two Weeks. . .

I can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve written a post. It feels like it’s been an eternity. I’ve missed coming to the site badly. It’s not even so much that I needed to write a post; I needed to interact with my friends, my fellow bloggers and tweeps. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to do that the past two weeks. I’ve been able to make comments here and there, but that is about it. I haven’t been able to enjoy the back and forth banter of oh, I don’t know, say. . . Ionia and Charles. I’ve missed blog hopping and just commenting on different posts that I find interesting.

Life’s been pretty rough on the home front  lately. Luckily it hasn’t been stroke or pain (not much anyway 🙂 ) related. For that I’m grateful, but I don’t like that so many curve balls have been thrown my way lately. It’s been overwhelming to the point where I had to go to NJ for several days and stay with some friends just to clear my head. As much as I love my blog family, because of the personal nature of the home front issues, I can’t go into detail.

Since I’ve been in NJ, I haven’t done much in the way of my novel-writing. I have, however, been playing around with my poetry 🙂  . I’ll go through some of them over the next day or two and maybe I’ll post one or two of the better ones on my next post.

Anyway, I just wanted everyone to know that I’m OK, and that I missed all my friends and blogger family, especially my ‘daughter’ Briana, who worried enough to look for me on Twitter. Love you girl!

Hopefully I can have these issues resolved soon. Having been through so much, all I want to do now is get better, stronger, move up, out and ON!!!!