The day before Thanksgiving is always a busy day and this past year, 2014, was no different. I had a day of cooking and prepping for our family get together ahead of me. Before I got busy with all of the cooking, Feeling fantastic and excited for the holiday, I readied myself for the day, kissed my husband goodby, and headed out the door to a routine chiropractic adjustment. I had been getting routine adjustments for the past 20 years. I had no expectation of this one to be any different. I was wrong.
Nov 26, 2014 at approx. 10:30 in the morning, my life was changed forever. I was lying on the adjustment table and the chiropractor did his usual neck adjustment, however, this time it felt way different. It was a huge pop and I immediately felt dizzy. I made mentioned how I felt and the chiropractor just assumed it was from the big adjustment. He adjusted the other side and we waited for the dizziness to pass. I sat up to see if it would pass. At the same time I was starting to feel really sick to my stomach and my vision was deterorating. The chiropractor even said my eyes were dialating. I waited a few more minutes and my condition was getting worse with every passing minute. The chiropractor went to adjust another patient then came back and had asked me to move to a different table. When I stood up, I immediately felt like I was going to pass out and laid back down on the adjustment table. I almost instantly started vomiting. About another minute later I was vomiting profusely and suggested to the chiropractor that they called 911.
After what seemed like an eternity, the paramedics arrived and started prepping me for transport. I was put in a neck prace and body brace, no one being quite certian that the chiropractor didn't accidentally break my neck. I could hardly talk because I was vomiting so badly, every movement I made felt like my head was spinning in one direction and my body in another direction. I knew from the questions the EMT's were asking my condition was not good, and when I asked one of them if I was going to die and he didn't answer me and changed the subject I knew it was real bad.
I finally get to the hospital and was rushed to CT scan, which revealed I had sustained a disected vertebral artery, causing a stroke in the cerebellum. I didn't know this until my husband had told me as they were stabalizing me, he said, "honey, they think you've had a stroke, caused by the adjustment". I was so confused, shocked, scared, and in disbelief. A stroke??? This only happens to older people, unhealthy people! How could this be? Not able to open my eyes to see anyone, not even my husband or children, and barely able to talk because of the vomiting, not able to move because of the unspeakable amount of dizziness, all I could do was lay there, hold my husbands hand and pray.
After about an hour in the ER and them finally getting me stabalized to where I wasn't vomiting about every 30 seconds, I was moved to ICU. I was begging for them to just put me to sleep so I could wake up from this horror and it all be over and couldn't understand why they wouldn't. The next (very early) morning I had a MRI which confirmed I did indeed have a cerebellar stroke. The disected artery caused a showering of clots to spray up into the brain, very close to the circle of willis and the opening in the brain where the cerebrospinal fluid enters and exits the brain. It was only by God's grace and mercy none of the clots went into that area, which would have been fatal. I was not told this until the day I was discharged to go to rehab. I was in ICU for 3 days, regular room for 4 more days then moved to rehabilitation for another 10 days. I had to learn to balance again, my eyes no longer worked together, and I was very hypersenitive to noise and lights.
In the months that have followed, I have improved tremendously. I still get dizzy and nauseous. I have pseudo-bulbar affect, caused by the stroke, and I still have physical therapy for vestibular rebailitation and having to see a neuro opthamologist because my eyes do not work together like they used to. I am also in neuro psychotherapy for PTSD, as I have relived that horrible day, every day of my life since then. I am also being evaluated for cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome, resulting from the stroke.
My recovery has been steady but very hard emotionally. I am a wife, mother of 3 young children and a special education teacher. My life has changed in all of these facets. Had I known there was even the slightest risk of a chiropractic adjustment, I never would have ever had my neck adjusted. In the 20 years of getting adjustment I have never had one tell me there were any kind of risks to having an adjustment. While the numbers are small and the research is out there to prove the risks, none of them conceede to the inherent risk of an adjustment to the neck. My mission now is to promote awareness to people who utilize a chiropractor, of the risks and to aid in there hopefully being made law that chiropractors provide informed consent to their patients. All of them should already do this, but not one that I have ever been to (and there has been several) has ever spoke of such a risk. Lives have been significantly altered and some even ended in death from neck adjustments. I can hopefully help to change that!
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