Last Wednesday morning, I stood in the shower for a good ten minutes trying to decide if I had the energy to shave my legs. I didn’t. So, I rinsed out my hair and got out hairy.
Eh, it happens.
Later that morning, I went into first period and about halfway through teaching, I started to get dizzy. Nothing really serious. Just that dizzy like when you stand up too fast. If I started walking around, it got a little worse, so I stood still for a few minutes while my students worked and the dizziness subsided a little bit.
By second period, the dizzy was back in full force. I was having trouble standing upright because everything was spinning. By the end of the period, I started to experience vertigo.
I called Chris between classes and told him what was going on. I said if the vertigo continued, he was going to have to come get me because I couldn’t teach like this. We agreed I’d teach through third period and then during my fourth period planning, I would check back in with him.
Then crazy stuff started happening.
Throughout third period, I was battling vertigo terribly (something I’d never experienced before – it felt like I was standing still while the room spun vertically around me), and I started messing up my words a little. I kept calling kids by the wrong name and was talking about things that had nothing to do with class. At the end of the period, I was handing papers back to students. They had their names at the top of the papers, and I was looking at the names and then walking over to hand the papers to that particular student. Only, turns out, I didn’t get one student right. I gave every paper to the wrong child, which is weird enough on its own. But the craziest part was that I thought I was giving them to the right students.
My kids started laughing at me, and joking around, saying, “What’s wrong with you, Mrs. Brown?!?!” I laughed and collected all the papers, and then I DID THE SAME THING AGAIN.
Something was wrong. And I started to get a little worried. I called Chris and told him he needed to come get me. I had a quick meeting at the beginning of fourth period, and when I told one of the teachers what was going on, she said I needed to go see the nurse in the front office and have my blood pressure checked. Which I did. But that’s when things got even worse.
I started having trouble talking. I could hear people talking to me, and I knew what I wanted to respond, but I couldn’t say the words. My vision also started blurring, and I couldn’t quite see what was going on in front of me. I can’t remember everything that happened while I was in the front office. But I know that they called an ambulance, and very quickly I was surrounded by a team of first responders and EMT’s.
When they lifted me onto the gurney, it was the first time I thought, “I really should have shaved this morning.”
By the time I got to the hospital, my vision was clearing up a bit and the vertigo had stopped, but I continued to have trouble speaking and my right hand had gone numb and was tingling. That really freaked Chris out. Someone at my school called him and he met the ambulance at the hospital. When he finally got back to me in the emergency room, he was so relieved to see that I looked very normal and like myself. But when they started asking me questions and talking to me, I still struggled for my words. It was upsetting to me and Chris, both.
They admitted me to the hospital that afternoon as a stoke patient, but there was also the thought that I might have had something called a “complex migraine,” which is basically a migraine with stroke-like symptoms and no headache. They began running every neurological and cardiac test possible that night and into early the next morning. I had an EKG before I even left the emergency room, followed by a CT. Both came out clear. At 11:00 that night, I had a ultrasound of my corroded arteries, which came back clear and healthy. At 1:00 in the morning, I had an MRI, and at 4:00am I had an echocardiogram.
Every test came back clear and healthy. Praise God.
Doctors ruled out a number of diseases and illnesses through blood tests, which I don’t have time to go into right now because I’d like to eventually go to bed tonight. The last thing they ruled out was the complex migraine because I am not a migraine sufferer, nor do I have any migraine tendencies. I hardly ever even get headaches. The neurologist and the hospitalist both agreed that I did, in fact, suffer a TIA.
If you Google it, you’ll find all the medical descriptions about a TIA, but basically, a TIA is often called a mini-stroke. It means something got into my blood stream and blocked blood flow to my brain, but unlike a massive stroke, there are no lingering side effects for me. Pretty scary.
The bad thing about a TIA is that it is usually an indicator that a stroke is coming. About 40% of patients who suffer a TIA go on to have a full-blown stroke within 2-3 months. Usually, it’s within even 24-48 hours. This, of course, was the part that I was hospitalized for. After speaking with doctors, however, I was assured that my risk factor is extremely low for a massive stroke, as I do not have any of the conditions which are often stroke triggers – I’m not obese, I’m young, I don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, I don’t have a blood coagulation disorder, I’m not a smoker, etc. It really does seem to be just a fluke.
I’m sure you all have lots of advice and questions and, trust me, I’ve been through them all with my team of doctors. I just don’t have the energy to go through every medical decision or information that was explored this past week. So, forgive the specifics and just trust that I’m okay.
True to form, my family came rallying from the far corners of the globe (a.k.a. Atlanta). My mom came down right away on Wednesday and was able to pick up the kids and stay with them while Chris stayed with me in the hospital. My sister and her family came into town on Friday to help cook, clean my house, watch my kids, and take care of me since Chris had tech rehearsals (naturally, they would be this weekend!). My doctors had given me strict orders to rest this weekend, and my family made sure that I was able to do just that. And it helped, too, because I am feeling much better now.
I have a follow-up appointment tomorrow with my doctor, and if that goes well, I should be back to work on Tuesday.
I posted a picture in the hospital on Instagram this past week, and, once again, my loyal imaginary friends came running with kind words and prayers and good thoughts. Thank you so much for your comfort and support. It means so much to me.
Especially on days when I don’t shave my legs.