The Wake-Up Call

Stroke.  Often times without medical knowledge, we hear about conditions or occurrences and lump them in a one size fits all basket and hopefully we don’t have to address them.  I never knew what a stroke was although a stroke to my grandmother was the cause for the tattoo on my right forearm “Live Young Die Free.”  I never knew what a stroke was until Thursday evening I suffered a basil ganglia hemorrhagic stroke.  I’m right handed and reached for my phone with left hand and realized it took me 30 seconds to grab it, once I gripped the phone I dropped it and it took me another 30 seconds to pick it up.  I stumbled to the fridge, thinking was this fatigue or weakness and sipped a Powerade.  Went to the basement, to grab my hypertension medication; all while, doing so stumbling virtually on one foot.  Next I went to the bathroom, sat on the toilet and proceeded to attempt to text but my left thumb was not touching the screen.  I’m one of those people who can text without looking so I knew things weren’t right.  I googled stroke symptoms and saw an article that said you cannot waste a minute.  I knew I needed an ambulance. 

There are differences in types of strokes, one of the main ones is due to a blood clot or blood hemorrhage.  Mine involved a bleed in my brain and blood on the right side of my brain affected the movement on the left side of my body.  I was scared shitless; would this be permanent?  I was chilling one moment and next moment, I’m in University of Chicago ICU surrounded by medical personnel.  I felt like I was in an episode of House. But if I said these things started Thursday, I’d be lying. 

Invincibility, self-healing are characteristics of comic book characters, not me.  Back in July, I was laid off work and my health insurance was going to be cut unless I purchased Cobra.  I went to the doctor and was told something that I already knew.  I had hypertension and diabetes type 2.  I saw one male doctor and he told me that if I were to get back active and lose weight, I will be able to clear myself of both diseases, as I have done once before in 2011.  But when he brought in his boss, she dropped a bombshell.  She was worried because I didn’t have symptoms of these issues; she felt that since nothing small was happening that I felt invincible and that a bomb would drop.  This was the bomb.

A week later I’m home, functioning on my own. The signs of my stroke are not visible and my doctors and I have a plan in place that they all agree should leave me stroke free for the rest of my life if I follow it.  After being terrified during a MRI, CT Scan and Angiogram (and a bout of my breathing stopping while sleeping); I’m scared shitless and taking my health serious.  I no longer feel invincible and after taking daily walks around the ICU I saw people who weren’t going home anytime soon.  The screams of the lady in the room next to me when taking her medicine stick in my head, and she had been there three solid weeks that was all the motivation I needed.  Yesterday I was fortunate enough to walk out of the Neurology Floor and Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of Chicago with no assistance.  And when I did, I played the song below that has the key line


Listen when you get a blessin' you don't ask why
You just pass forward, and fast forward (c) Bas
My Walking Out the Hospital Song

Breathing Deeper,