Tsitsi B.

Photo of Tsitsi B.

I am … a Survivor.

One morning, something was very wrong with me.

On the morning of June 8, of 2011 I had an almost fateful morning. I was woken up by my 3 year old son, his morning routine. It was about 6 am and he walked in dragging a blanket behind him, I pushed myself out of bed, and led him back to his room. We worked our way into his bed and he was agreeably sleepy enough to lie quietly beside me. Right then a sharp pain pierced my head right on my temple. It was as if a thin needle was being slowly stuck into my head. I put the tips of my fingers over the my temple to dull the pain and just as quick as the pain came it went away. Containing my composure in front of my son I reached over my left hand to rub his hair as I pushed to myself up. I noticed my left hand could not feel the bumpy little curls of hair in his head so with my right had I reached over to feel my left hand an on touching my left hand I jumped up and out of bed because I thought the hand I had touched was not mine but of an adult now in our bed. There was no one. As horrific and frantic as this all seems I would learn a few hours later that I suffered a minor stroke and out of those 3 to 5 minutes, I had permanent brain unjury.

The next ten minutes cemented my worst fear. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the cold water and let it rush through my left hand. I still had no feeling in my left hand. I wondered if this could be the case for the rest of the left side of my body and I picked up a brush and and ran it all the way down to my toes. Nothing. There was no feeling at all. In panic I yelled to my husband for help. He was still asleep. The more I asked for help, the more I realized that my voice was in my head. When I asked him later why he was not panicked he said I did not yell out at all but looking at me I cleared seemed bothered by something. I thought I was having a heart attack, and quite possibly diving. I kept on saying is wrong with something is very wrong with me, until all I could is whisper it softly. I sat down on the toilet. I just had a heart of prayer at that moment, reminding god that yes I know we die but remember to our sons in what ever this was. My husband remembered what one can do with people going through a stroke and he started testing me. As far as he determined I did not exhibit any common physical indications I was in any kind of trouble so I did the water test again and something was still very wrong with me.

So my husband started preparing to take me to the hospital. I jumped into the shower, got dressed, packed a small tote bag of something to read. We woke up our 20 year niece, to look after our sons why we ran to the hospital for a few hours. I turned to look for the boys and by this time they both were awake and had climbed into my bed. Thinking I might not return home ever again, I turned and walked down the stairs. “I guess that’s ok” I muttered to myself.

We learned later that we drove to the wrong hospital and how by calling 911 the first responders would have known which hospital was the best center for head trauma. So I spent about 45 minutes in a ambulance to a neurology trauma center at the university of Iowa. We also learned later how slow we were to get help in the first. The attending doctor who admitted me into the trauma center later told me that at age 45, people like me do not necessarily think of suffering a stroke or end of life for that matter. It’s not just part of day to day conversation with most of our peers.