What a Stroke Looks Like from the Inside–Part One

You never know how quickly your life can change.  Good or bad, everything really can change in an instant.  Sometimes it’s a big, dramatic moment, sometimes it passes you by without even a whisper of acknowledgement or a hint of warning.  Like T.S. Eliot said, my old world ended with a whimper, not a bang.

June 1st was a normal Saturday.  I went for a walk, cleaned my apartment, did laundry.  I was tired from working 14 hours the day before, so I took a nap.  When I woke up an hour later, I was having a seizure.  I’d never had a seizure before, but I had seen people have them, so I knew what it was.  But the sensation of being unable to control my own body was something I’ll never forget.  Even worse was the fact that my eyes would not work together.

I remember thinking to myself “What am I going to do if they can’t fix my eyes?  I won’t be able to work or go to school or anything?”  I was still having a seizure, but I was having a rational conversation with myself.  And I knew—because of my eyes—that I’d had a stroke.  I was convinced that I was going to die.  But I wasn’t afraid.  I was filled with peace.

At the end of the seizure, I fell out of bed, somehow missing the sharp corner of my nightstand.  I ended up in the corner, between that table and the closet, and I was throwing up.  When I finally managed to stop throwing up long enough, I managed to yell for my friend who was crashed on my couch.  When she came into the room, I remember telling her, very calmly, “Don’t panic, but I think I’ve had a stroke.  I need you to call an ambulance.”  I was so relieved that I’d managed to get her attention, and that she’d called 911, that I just lay there, still throwing up, as she called my family.

When the paramedics got there, they tried to set me up on the edge of my bed, but I couldn’t sit up, and just fell over backwards.  They kept asking me what I’d taken, and I remember being really frustrated, because they thought I’d taken drugs, and I knew I’d had a stroke.

I remember the paramedic putting an arterial line in before we left the apartment complex.  It seemed to take a long time to get to the hospital, even though it was only about five miles away.  I was barely unloaded and in the E.R. before my dad was there, at my side (Baby Brother can really drive when he needs to!).  I just looked at him and said “Pray!”  He grabbed my foot, as the nurses were still hooking me up, and prayed.  Then I was wheeled away for tests, still throwing up frequently.

My mom and Baby Brother were also there, and my mom says I kept getting irritated at the doctors trying to ask me questions, and kept saying “I’m just tired!”  I remember lots of people working on me, lots of tests, but only faintly.  I remember my Other Brother being there—one of Baby Brother’s closest friends—and Mama Bear—a friend from work, but then everything faded to black.

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