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.