My Birthday Story
Let me tell you a little about myself before we get to my story. I am a single mother of two children, I live in Mobile, Alabama and was raised in Gainesville, Florida. My parents divorced when I was 9. My mother died when I was 14 and my father lived in Rock Port, TX. I have no family in Mobile. It is just me and my kids. I was married for 13 years and have been divorced for 19 years. I made a decision a long time ago to put my children first and be a good mom. My son, Christopher is 25 and is in college to become an Electrical Engineer. Before the stroke, he was beginning his junior year at the University of South Alabama. My daughter, Brittany is 23 and is physically disabled. She is a Shriner's baby and has two rods, a plate and some screws in her back. We as a "dysfunctional family" were doing well. We are a close family, it has always been "us" three.
But, here is my story... On my birthday, August 8, 2011. I went to work. I work for Honeywell Industries in Chichasaw, Alabama. Due to it being a chemical plant and me taking meds for a sinus infection. I stopped by to see Ms. Kathy (the nurse at work). She took one look at me and sent me home. She said I just didn't look right. I was like cool, it's my Birthday and I will just take it easy. It took me 30 minuets to get home and that made the time about 8:15 am. I received a happy birthday phone call, talked and hung up.
When I stood up, I became very dizzy. I told my daughter; Brittany (who was sitting right beside me) that I think I am going to be sick. By the time I made it to the bathroom, I felt so drunk I could not walk. I had no idea what was going on. I went to my room and sat down. At this point, the right side of my body went numb. My brain was screaming NO, this can not be happening to me, I'm only 45 and a single parent! They don't have anybody else. Please don't let it be. I calmly told Brittany to go get her brother. My legs then went out from under me and I went into the fetal position. Christopher, said come on mom, were going to the hospital. I said, we need to wait until I am not dizzy. He said, NO and they picked me up. I don't remember much, but I do remember I knew I was in serious trouble and I looked at both of them and told them that no matter what happens to ALWAYS remember how much I loved them. I was told later by my son that I was not making any sense... he picked up stroke, dizzy and numb. I thought I was talking coherently... did they pick up on how much I loved them? That was my only comfort that I was able to tell my children I loved them.
As we were trying to get to the car, I kept looking down. My legs felt funny and my left foot was not working. It was just dragging. After they got me in the car and laid the seat back, that is when I started vomiting. I was at the hospital within 20 minutes of me having the stroke. My son's girlfriend works at the hospital and they were outside waiting for me. My vomiting continued to the point that they had to sedate me to run test. I had two MRIs, one MRA, EKG inside and out (down my throat), and they cut an artery in my groan and ran some type of camera up through a major artery to some vital organ, and an ultra sound on my carotid arteries. I was told that I had 3 lesions on my brain that was bi-lateral (both sides of my brain). I had three strokes at one time in the Cerebellum part of my brain. That part of the brain controls my balance, coordination, and equilibrium. I remember none of this. This is what was told to me.
I spent five days sedated under morphine due to the pain in my neck and it helped with the vomiting. I could not open my eyes with out getting sick. The only way I could ease the dizziness was to lean my head to the right all the way down to my shoulder. That by itself caused me problems with my neck for months afterwards. The doctors did not know what caused the stroke. I am not overweight. I work out daily, I go to the track and walk/run up to two or three miles a day. I ate clean. No red meats, only chicken and fish. My only bad habit was smoking. I am a social drinker and could not tell you the last time I drank. The hospital sent me to another hospital for physical therapy. That is where I learned to walk, talk and try to be "normal" again. Whatever normal is for just having a stroke. I felt so out of place, I was the youngest person there. I was very depressed, cried all the time and just wanted to go home. I spent 15 days there and they sent me home. Mostly due to my insurance.... My children never left my side. Brittany stayed with me at the hospital. God Bless her, because she is my angel that I will never forget what she has done for me....
When I got home, Christopher had made the decision to withdraw from school and to go to work to help the family. That broke my heart. Even though I have short term disability pay check, he wanted to pull his weight. What was I supposed to do? This is a man looking at me and telling me what he was going to do for the family. Between all the different doctor's appointments, and PT, OT and the nurses coming to the house, I lost it. I think I had a mental breakdown. I called my family in Florida because I needed help and here I am.
Gainesville is a University town. Home of the Florida Gators who have had a bad season to say the least! They have great doctors here. I have had a seizure and refused to go to the hospital. I was teriffied that they were going to keep me there. But, my new Neurologist; Dr. Mark Werner orderd PT and OT for me and I had to learn to walk, talk and dress myself again. After months of PT, I am walking without the aid of a walker. I am using a cane and I am regaining strength in my hands. I still have vertigo, my neck is giving me the worse problems (I get injections in my neck) and my vision has been affected. It's hard to swallow food, loud music bothers me, my ears would ring, my legs/feet didn't alway work and my hands tingled all the time.
Prestroke, I very seldom get the hic ups. Now, I have had the hic ups every other day. My emotions are a wreck. I am not allowed to drive and I don't know if I will ever be able to go back to work.... I am seeing a shrink because I feel like nobody understands me and I am looking for a stroke support group.
Not all days are good, nor are they all bad. Sometime when it gets real bad, I wish the stroke would have taken me out. That's the easy way out. Nothing in life worth having is easy. I get so tired of fighting the after effects of the stroke. It's always one thing or another. I fell the other day and hit my back on the windowsill and my daughter kept my head from going through the TV. I started crying, it wasn't because my back hurt. When was I going to be normal again? Is there such thing as normal after a stroke? Is this as good as it gets? But, I continue with PT and I go to my appointments. I have learned that death is easy, it the living that is hard. I'm not giving up by no means. I have two children that love me and need me. I am not the same person I was prior to August 8 and I never will be again. I have to learn to accept that. I have to accept that I will never know why I had the stroke. That is what has been the hardest for me. I have also learned so much about myself, my family and who my friends are. I have broken ties with family members, loved ones, and friends. If you are not good for me, my heart, my soul, my body, I have no use to have bad energy around me. I cut all ties with people who drained me. But, I am alive and breathing. I am continuing to get better. One day at a time and working on learning lots and lots of patience (which I never had before the stroke).
I am now back in Mobile, Alabama as of December 2, 2011. I am not needing the emergency support that was needed immediatley after the stroke. Christmas was small and I was greatful to be home with my children. Within a period of one month, we started noticing small changes (I still cried, got depressed and angry), different changes. In January 2012, I went to my "new" Neurologist appointment, I needed to establish a relationship with a Doctor in Mobile. Dr. Hollensworth stated that I was displaying symptons of confusion and severe forgetfulness that were not related to Cerebellum strokes. I also showed him my back from where I fell and hit my spine. It was swollen and black and blue. My Neurologist, suggested that I have another MRI and he ran some blood test and and he would give me something for my back. He thought maybe they had overlooked something when I had the strokes in August, or had another stroke or something else was wrong. I thought to myself, you have got to be kidding me. I kept telling all the doctors' something was wrong. The doctors' DO NOT LISTEN, in the hospital or in their offices. My MRI came back normal, but my blood test did not. My Neurologist told me that my B-12 and Ammonia level were high. I asked how high and what does that mean? I asked him if I could drive or go back to work. Dr. Hollensworth replied "I strongly recommend that you don't drive or go back to work", I asked if I could get that in writing and his answer was NO. I don't do that and I was told I need to go see my Primary as soon as I could and that was the end of the conversation! I have come to learn that most Neurologist have God syndrome. I wanted to ask him; why are you a doctor? Don't your care about my well-being? or is it my insurance/money that you are worried about? This my life and it doesn't just affect me, it affects my children... don't you understand that I am all that they have? Why are you repeatdly telling me to go to another docotor. I set up an appointment with my primary; Dr. Houston (whom I have been seeing for over 4 years) for the next day and my Neurologist faxed over all my medical records. It turned out that my Ammonia level is 87.6% and a normal liver should have an Ammonia level of 60%. Where the B-12 is coming from, I have no idea. I don't take vitamins. He took more blood test and checked in his lab and my levels were high and now one of my liver enzymes was not normal. So he sent my blood of to another lab. I have an ultra sound scheduled for my liver on Monday. My son has been with me on all of my appointments (I can't drive) and we started doing research on my confusion, forgetfulness, high levels of B-12 and Ammonia. All arrows are indicating Liver problems, liver disease or brain problems. It does not look good either way. It's the waiting on the results that is going to be hard.
With all of this going on, I have discovered something about myself. I feel calm. I may finally have an answer about what is going on. What may have caused my stroke. So many things that I just shrugged off because I was ignorant of strokes and their side effects. Strokes DO NOT have any discrimanation, period. I'm not going crazy, it's all real and their is a medical term for everthing I am experiencing. My health insurance has changed, my short term runs out February 5, 2012 and long term kicks in. That is 60% of short term disablitiy. I have no idea what we are going to do. But, it will work out. It always does, it may not work out the way I want it to, but it works. We as human beings take so long to grow up and appreciate what we have. It took the stroke to figure out who I am and what I want.... I have never been scared of anything and I am not going to start now. I am still not allowed to drive and my son drives me everwhere and I have yet to be released to return back to work.
All of my family (me, my son and daughter) take one day at a time. We continue to learn about the new me... and what our future might hold for ALL of us.