I like to read. I don’t read as much as I used to since my stroke but I still try. My favorite era of story-telling is pretty much anything from before I was born in the ’80’s. I find the tales entertaining on a level that exceeds anything modern fiction can provide. It’s almost literal in its distraction and is parallel to the truths of that time period and todays. Todays fiction is pretty much just anything any random person decides to write about…like glittering vampires or bondage that was so taboo before it became a chart topper on some literary version of the Billboards chart. I used to find it hilarious when I would read about a woman who would become so consumed with worry or any form of excitement that she would “get the vapors.” I have never fainted, I have never become so fretful or overly excited that I would become light-headed and my vision would fade to white. I always thought this particular breed of woman was peculiarly petty and hoped they were just dramatizing a very simple situation.
Yesterday, I woke up with a migraine. I didn’t feel right. Nothing felt right from the moment I opened my eyes. I rested most of the afternoon; just took it easy. I should have known – that damn premonition of mine that I really don’t like to discuss in my head with myself, nevermind with other people. That stuff just sounds nutty so I prefer to keep it to myself and sometimes even from myself. I had 4 signs that something was going to happen:
There is this woman on my Facebook page. I don’t know her. We became ‘friends’ through a Zynga forum for Farmville or some other crappy game I no longer play. She is very anti-Obama so we rarely talk. Over the past few days she has been posting about her son. He has these brown spots called cafe au lait spots (of course she spelt it cafe olay, what an ass, right?). I asked her what it was; she described it to me and I suggested she ask his pediatrician about HHT (Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia). It is associated with AVM’s and patients present with similar symptoms of what she said the pediatrician claimed was the possible diagnosis (neurofibromatosis). She said her son needed more testing, this time a blood test. She didn’t even know the name of the condition her son may have until I looked up cafe au lait spots and corrected her that it’s not fibromyalgia but neurofibromatosis…what kind of parent doesn’t Google a disease their child might have to at least know the name of it? It also took everything I had in me not to type out to her how ACA (something she is always posting her views AGAINST) will help her and her son if he is diagnosed with something that will affect him in any way permanently.
The following day she posted that her son’s blood tests could not be processed because the lab his doctor went through only accepts payments from the clients, not insurance. It will cost her 5k to get the results. Shortly after that post, she said the next step was an eye doctor (another test they would use to identify an AVM or rule out the possibility of one). The next step was then neuro testing which she never really said what the test was. I just kept being reminded of my own AVM experience and how these symptoms were similar to not only my own signs of HHT (though I’ve never been diagnosed with that) but also the signs that I should have noticed before my stroke. She then posted about applying for disability for her daughter who apparently is “practically def [sic] in both ears.” I wanted to type out how that “damned socialist program” could really assist with her daughters future medical care for her hearing deficiencies. Too bad applying for the disability on her daughters behalf would be hypocritical of the stance she has very publicly taken against these so-called entitlement programs by complaining that people abuse the system by never putting money in and receiving the benefits that others had paid for, isn’t that what she would be doing on her daughters behalf since her daughter has clearly never worked therefore never put a dime into the program? Of course, I said nothing and just scrolled on. The next day, she posted that she was taking her husband to th ER because of his heart. He had a panic attack and all I kept thinking as I was nosily reading the comments on her thread was how ridiculous it is to go to the hospital for a panic attack followed by cursing myself for speaking so negatively about someone whose family is obviously experiencing one medical emergency after the other.
I didn’t want to shave my legs yesterday morning. I was exhausted due to the migraine. It takes work to shave my stupid left leg. Right leg is not that difficult but the left is a pain in the ass. As I pulled my sweatpants on, thankful I had a clean pair so I had no struggles with the button and zipper on jeans or shorts, I told myself “you better not need a trip to the hospital. You always have to go when you refuse to shave your legs.” Yes, I speak to myself as if I am two people when mentally discussing anything. It makes me feel less alone I guess, ha!
My cycle is almost over. I had to wear a pad because a tampon at this stage is unnecessary. Again, I told myself not to need a trip to the hospital. Last thing I need is to show up with hairy legs and a barely used pad. It’s just not attractive on any level. Why I worry of these things randomly I have no idea. I tend to go out of my way not to go to the hospital rather than make plans to show up as pretty as possible and in pain.
I went on with my day. Time to make dinner approached. Meatloaf (turkey) was on the menu. Kasper prepared the meat, put it in the oven and left to check something online. I went on to put away dishes so I could wash the few in the sink before they piled up too high on us. I picked up the pan I used to make lunch for the boys earlier and noticed it was slightly slippery; I put it back in the sink hoping the rest of the dishes were cleaner. I picked up a stack of bowls, my favorite clear glass bowl on the bottom of the stack, and thought as I turned to set the stack on the counter, how awful it would be to drop that bowl. Next thing I knew, I was standing in a pile of glass with my mouth opened.
I was in complete shock. I started to call for Kasper who rushed in while yelling at the boys to stay back. It took a few seconds for the blood to start flowing but when it did, I became worried. I had a gnarly gash on my right ankle less than a centimeter from a dark blue vein that runs around the ankle bone. Kasper started to apply pressure and I noticed a puddle of blood forming near my left toes. I had cuts on those toes, too. He dressed my little tiny wounds and while he started to clean up the glass, I rested my heel on the counter because in the movies they say to “keep it raised.” Yeah, that’s how I get my medical advice…movies. I’m sitting there just watching the blood cover my measly paper towel at a slowing pace. SUDDENLY I am swept away by this nauseating, stomach-turning pressure in my head. I start feeling light-headed and wobbly while I’m sitting. I look at my ankle, look at the paper towel, look at the blood oozing out from beneath this ridiculously tiny band-aid and then BAM!!! The next thing I know…I really don’t feel so good. I lift my leg higher, I close my eyes and when I open them my vision is obscured by this white edge that is creeping over my entire vision. I close my eyes, I rub them, I open them and I am blind! Everything is literally black. I panic and rub my eyes some more. Stars exploded in my field of vision and my head is tingling on the right side and I’m sweating and I can’t breathe and the stars are getting brighter and I’m getting cold and feeling hot and the sweat is sticky and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe and the next thing I know, I’m in a full-blown panic. I had trouble talking, I couldn’t move my arm. I didn’t tell Kasper these things but I was really freaking out. I was confused. I thought it was the onset of a seizure or worse! Another stroke! All for a thickening drop of blood that I can’t seem to soak up? There came tingles in my right arm and I couldn’t sit up anymore…I just sagged in the chair like an invalid. Flashes of my stroke came back and it was like de ja vu. I started to really doubt this was simply a complex panic attack. I couldn’t move so I told Kasper to put me on the floor knowing the cool linoleum would help some. He did so then called an ambulance and things just became silly after that.
While I sat on the floor surrounded by men nodding in agreement that this was nothing serious, all I could think of was my hairy legs, my nearly unused pad and that damn lady on facebook. They dressed my “wound” and I felt like the biggest asshole in town. I had never had a panic attack that big before. NEVER. Sweat puddled in my back and against my neck, my heart rate was speeding along comfortably and I just felt so idiotic and helpless. The guys were nice, Kasper accomodating to my embarrassment and my kids well…apparently they like strangers in our house, pretty sure that’s not a good thing. All night the mortification of having overreacted in such a way nagged me and reminded me what a dummy I can be. How was I supposed to know though? My head had only felt that way once before and similarily, I was on the floor with little movement in one side of my body. I’m not entirely sure it was a panic attack; I’ve never felt faint at the sight of blood before. My speech was limited, my thoughts clouded and my body didn’t respond when I spoke to it. These are things that happened during my stroke. Are panic attacks that similar to strokes, I wonder?
It never fails…I can never not shave my legs again…