...What has been going on this past year since my last post? Quite a lot, and not quite so much. I know, I know, it doesn't make sense, does it? LOL!!!
Church activities, school activities, summer activities, visiting our families, etc. Just the usual ordinary things you do on a daily basis. Some days I do more, some days I procrastinate. No surprise there. Let's move on! ;-)
According to the last post, I've joined Jamberry as a consultant back in May. Not making a whole lot of money. As long as I make at least $600 a year, I'll be fine. The main thing is that it helps me either buy or get free nail wraps or gel polish, etc. I've come to the realization I may never be a savvy businesswoman. Know what? That's ok! I can keep searching for other venues that I may actually be savvy in. Who knows? :-)
That reminds me... Jamberry has rolled out a new product called "TruShine" gel polish along with a curing lamp, and other stuff associated with it. I LOVE the gel stuff! Most nail wraps are fine, but those with metallic stuff, tend to do lifting at the tips, which can be frustrating. Not with the gel stuff! I can put it over the wraps, and I NEVER have to buff down the lifting or try to reheat and push down, plus it's durable! Because of the gel stuff, I've finally been able to get my weak peely nails to grow longer! I don't want them too long, just long enough to look, oh, so elegant! WOW! If that piques you, go to my website: marylynncauley.jamberry.com, and try out the stuff! :-D
Then.............................................................Comes this horrible thing that hit me a few days ago, on Friday, October 2nd. Siiiiiiiiighhhhhh....
I was kind of mad that it happened the weekend of our Gospel meeting/marriage seminar at our congregation. I thought,"While I wouldn't wish this to happen ever, why couldn't it have happened any other time?!?" The sad reality is that we really do not have control over unforeseen things that happens any way. Now that being said...this horrible thing could have been prevented, if I had taken better care of myself!!! :-(
Without further ado.... this is what happened, starting on Friday, October 2nd (Warning: it's rather lengthy, as it's sort of a journal. I know I don't need to post a journal here, but it's been helping me stay sharp): As stated before, we had a Gospel meeting/marriage seminar from October 2nd to 4th. I was able to go to the sermon of the night. After the 7 pm sermon sermon was over, we went to the fellowship room for dessert. It was during then that I thought the room was brighter as usual, but maybe this time a little more brighter. I don't know how long into this fellowship it was, but suddenly, I am seeing clear but blurry spots. Looked like an invisible nerve shocked amoeba floating around. Weird. I think it lasted about maybe 5-15 seconds, not very long. I thought that was strange, but as soon as it was over, I just brushed it aside. I went ahead and helped clean up, and walked home (because my husband is a preacher, the congregation provided a parsonage for us, and it's right next to the church parking lot).
I got to my bedroom, changed into PJ's, sat on the edge of my bed, and turned on the TV that was on my dresser. About 5-15 mins (I am not sure how long, but it definitely was some time) later, the left half of my body, including my face, started feeling funny, kind of numb and tingly. I didn't like it!!! I thought,"I better get up and walk around to shake it off." My bed is not very far from the door, about a good step or two away, so I got up to open the door, and WHOA! I felt weak on that side and realized something was VERY wrong! I opened the door and called for my two eldest boy to come help me walk. This happened about 9:45 pm. When they came to me, I was leaning against the door jamb to hold my self up. Second eldest son tried to get me to lay down, and I said,"No, I think I need to walk!" So eldest son helped me walk, and we walked all the way to the kitchen, and I walked around the kitchen, slapping the left side of my face, shaking my left arm and leg. At that time, my husband, Kevin, walked in (about 10 pm), and I told him what happened. He had that very concerned and scared look, and said,"Sounds like you may have had a stroke. Let's go to the hospital now!"
The closest hospital is 25-30 mins away. It usually doesn't feel like forever, but with this emergency looming, it felt like an eternity! We finally get there, to the ER, and Kevin tells someone at the ER that he thinks I had a stroke. They get me in immediately, no waiting. I go through the normal ER routines: questions, slapping on the hospital band, signing papers, vitals, etc. ER doctor eventually comes in, and after discussing with me and Kevin, he definitely thinks I had a TIA (transient ischemic attack). Some people think TIA's are mini-strokes, but it's really more of a stroke warning. He wants me admitted to run tests to determine what I had, what needs to be done, etc. He orders tests to be done. He wants an MRI, and a ultrasound on my neck and heart done.
The nurse proceeds to draw blood, and I tell her she will have a hard time finding a vein. Sure enough, she does have a hard time, but she manages to draw blood from my right hand (which eventually causes an ugly bruise), an IV port into my left hand (which strangely enough doesn't cause a bruise). By then, I'm already shivering, not because I'm cold (which I was, but probably from being scared too). Another nurse eventually wheels in a portable x-ray, and takes an x-ray of my chest. I was very thankful I didn't have to go to an x-ray room! I had a type of cat scan, but don't really remember when it happened, but it happened during this time period.
Kevin finally leaves for home about 1:30 AM. He tells me to text him my room number when I get it. I tell him to text me when he gets home. Sometime after he leaves, a lady wheels in a portable ultrasound machine. She does an ultrasound of the left and right arteries in my neck. Kevin texts me he's home. Sometime after that they inform me of my room number. So I text Kevin the room number, in which by then, he's probably asleep.
I finally get to my room 2:30-ish AM. I get settled in bed, they check my vitals, etc. They ask me if I need anything, I tell them no, and that I'm pretty tired and need to go to sleep. W-H-E-W....
Saturday: I get woken up just to get vitals checked, go back to sleep. Wake up again when my breakfast is brought in. Kevin texts me to see how I am, and all that. Nurse comes in and tells me they're taking me down for an MRI, and I let Kevin know about it.
I go down in a wheelchair for an MRI. I've never had an MRI, and I've been told in the past that those things can be B-O-R-I-N-G and L-O-N-G. I find it funny they have to put a big ear phone over my ears, considering I'm deaf and can't hear a thing. Anyway, they tell me I. Cannot. Move. At. All, once I'm in the machine, or they'd have to do it over again. OY...! They get me all strapped in, and cover my eyes with a dry washcloth. The thing I'm strapped to starts sliding me into this big machine. I wonder how long this will take. Whiiiirrrrrr, rumble rumble, whiiiiirrrr, rumble rumble.... and it goes on droning. Some of the vibrations felt like the vibrations of the Chaparral car rides in Six Flags. I laughingly think of Six Flags, go through a whole plethora of Bible songs, think randomly, etc., and after what seemed like an eternity (at this point I'm going stir crazy), I slide out. I'm thankful that I didn't dare to move, because it did feel like an eternity, and I do not want them to have to re-do it! The thought of having to go through those mental exercises and going stir crazy over and over again.... NO THANK YOU! They unstrap me, and before I get off, I stretch real good. The nurse grins because she knows why. I am wheeled back to my room. Kevin's not there yet, so I text him to let him know I'm done with the MRI. I look at the time span between those two texts, so I'm guessing the MRI itself took about 30 mins or so. Ugh....
Kevin still hasn't come in yet, and another nurse comes in to take me while I'm still in my bed for an ultrasound to my heart. I text Kevin about it. I'm wheeled into a room with an ultrasound in there. A lady, who has her hair piled on high (looks like a modern version of a beehive - ha!), comes in and says she's going to do the ultrasound on my heart. Not sure how long it took, but not too terribly long. Kevin texts me while this is going on asking me where I am, and I tell him. He lets me know he's in my room waiting for me.
I'm wheeled back to my room, and there is Kevin. We wait a while, I eat lunch, Kevin goes for lunch. Doctor shows up, so I text Kevin to get back here. We discuss things. We're told a Neurologist will come in either tonight or tomorrow. No news about the MRI, the ultrasound of my neck and my heart yet. Longest day of my life. So bored. A sweet old friend of ours brings our boys in for a short visit. I was so happy! Sad that they had to leave so soon. My folks finally arrive, and we just get busy talking. I think I've already had supper by then. Kevin finally says he needs to go home, and my folks stay a little longer. My good friends from church show up with stuff I requested. My folks finally leave to stay in the hotel. I finally get the chance to go to sleep for the night.
As usual, I get woken up in the middle of the night to have my vitals checked, and later wake up again for vitals and breakfast. This is Sunday by then. So that means Kevin cannot come until after Bible class, morning worship, and potluck, but my folks are able to come at about 8 am. He does text me asking if I'm ok, if there's any news, if the neurologist has come by. I tell him I'm fine, no news, and that the neurologist hasn't come yet. Kevin finally comes in with the boys after all the church activities were over. I was delighted! I missed them so much! We all visit for a good bit. A doctor comes in (different floor doctor than the one that came in before), comes in to check on me. He asks if the neurologist has been in, and we tell him he hasn't. "Oh! I'll make sure he does!", and out he goes. Not long after that, the neurologist finally shows up. Very interesting turn of events with this doctor. He didn't realize I am deaf since birth, so he thought I turned deaf from the stroke! Even asked if my voice changed too. Nope, my normal voice (according to what people tell me, I have a deep raspy voice, which to uniformed people, sounds like I have a sore throat). Wow. Anyway...He also tells me that the ultrasound of my neck does reveal some blockage, but that it is treatable. He also tells me that the front of my heart is fine, but that they unfortunately weren't able to get a clear look at the back of my heart, and he wants me to have a special ultrasound called the TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram) which is a specialized ultrasound probe that they would guide down my throat to see the back of my heart. Then he has me doing a few things (which by then I've already been doing them with the ER doctor, floor doctors, and nurses). The final thing he had me do was do a subtle smile, and bingo. He says,"There it is, if you can see it..." points to my left side describing to Kevin (my eldest son is behind the neurologist), and they see it too. Huh... Kevin and the neurologist go off to look at the MRI. Kevin later tells me that the stroke (including the dead area of my brain where the stroke happened), not the mini-stroke that we originally thought, is about the size of the top half of the thumb, and it happened in my right rear brain, in the occupital lobe, which explains why I had those blurry spots. Whoa... Neurologist says, because of the stroke, I now no longer can take high blood pressure meds. (See below about my conversation with Kevin about it) He will have me on Plavix and Lipitor instead. Anyway, eventually Kevin had to take the boys back in time for the evening service, and my folks needed to go to a congregation nearby , as they missed the morning services. I finally get some quiet (no offense!).
Sometime after that, they tell me I'm going in for a cat scan (the different kind I had than the one on the first day), so I text Kevin about it, then I'm wheeled into a cat scan room. Like the MRI, I can't move at all or they'd have to do it over again. They tell me they have to inject me with something that will make me really hot. They inject something in, get strapped in, slide in just enough to cover my head. Whoooooooooooooo..... talk about being on fire (from whatever they injected in me)!!!!!! I swear it's WORSE than a hot flash, so hot that my heart was racing! Thankfully, this didn't take as long as the MRI, I guess about 5-10 mins. I am sent back to my room.
Monday, the usual waking up to check vitals, medicine, breakfast resumes. They also tell me I'll have the TEE done sometime that day, which means I cannot eat or drink until it's over. Groan.... I'm going to be SOOO hungry and thirsty when it's over. I go back to sleep, only to wake up and find I have breakfast on my tray. Had to call the nurse to take it away since I'm not allowed to eat or drink. Boo Hoo! Kevin finally comes in after taking care of our boys, and my folks come in too. They eventually inform us that the TEE will happen at 12:30. Thankfully, they'll sedate me for this.
They finally inform us that the TEE will be done at 12:30. So, Kevin decides to go on for lunch, and my folks decide it's time to go home. They've been wonderful about it, and besides, this being Monday, it was my step-mom's birthday. She's been so gracious about giving up her special day to be with us. I love my folks!!! <3
I recall a speech therapist coming by with some pudding, graham crackers, water. (She came to check on my swallowing capabilities - another one of those little things people have come by to see if I'm still able to do things after that stroke.) I look at her, and then look at the nurse who was checking my vitals. The nurse tells her I can't have food or water till after the TEE. She understands and leaves.
It's almost 12:30, and they let us know they're getting me ready to go down. I let Kevin know. I'm still on my bed when they wheel me downstairs, Kevin tagging along. This is where it gets really funny. Love the nurses, the anesthesiologist, even the stoic cardiologist! The anesthesiologist was just cracking us up, telling wisecracks, etc. Sooooo funny! He even had fun showing us the ultrasound probe. Learned that the probe is worth $50,000, which is why they have this special mouthpiece to put in patients' mouths so they don't accidentally bite on it. In other words, they'd bill the anesthesiologist for the damaged probe! Stoic (but very polite and nice) cardiologist, while he wasn't trying to be funny or anything, it was how he is and what he did that was funny to us. He walks right in, and proceeds to explain what is to happen and anesthesiologist said we already explained, and he goes,"Oh, well, let's get started!" and out he goes. Boom. We cracked up! Finally time comes to get the anesthesia in me. Anesthesiologist explains the procedure, and I joke to him,"I'll just simply have a good nap." He laughs. He then explains to me that the hand might feel funny when they put the stuff in, and I told him I've been injected before and nothing new to me. LOL. So he goes ahead and puts two different tubes. Not sure which one was anesthesia and the other one liquid to push it through, but I reckon the milky looking one was anesthesia. Nonetheless, as soon as it was injected, I started counting backwards from 10 to 1, and I think I went no lower than 6 when I was out.
When I finally "come" out of it, look around and get my bearings, first thing I ask Kevin is,"How is my heart?" He smiles, and gives me that wary but polite look,"It's fine, and that's about the 4th or 5th time you've asked me that." "Huh? I don't remember asking before. I was awake all that time I asked???", I groggily ask incredulously. He said,"Yeah, we figured you weren't out of it yet, and yes, you were awake." Huh... "Wow. Did I say anything I shouldn't say?" He laughs and said,"No." Whew... Later I asked how I looked when I was awake and not so awake. He said my eyes were still red, and my eyes, while open, weren't all the way open, and my face had that drugged out look. They knew what was going on, so they didn't worry. Weeeeeeird....
Now this is where it gets a little murky. I can't seem to remember if the cardiologist came after I "woke" up, but I was told my heart was perfectly healthy, probably better than Kevin and the anesthesiologist's. HA! Back to square one. Still can't find what caused the clot that started the stroke. Kevin tells me that the stoic cardiologist comes in and was out. So funny!
However, I DO remember the anesthesiologist telling me, that I still couldn't drink until one hour after, and eat till 2 hours after I woke up. Groan... I was so hungry and thirsty when all this was over. 1 hour and 2 hours, hurry up! LOL! Anyway... I'm wheeled back to my room.
Time finally comes that I can drink water. Hallelujah! The ice water NEVER tasted so good till now! LOL!!! Another hour passes by quickly (Shockingly, as the last few days seemed to have dragged on!), and I can eat! Even the food tasted good! The nurse asks me if there was anything I needed. Up to this point, I was a little askeered to ask for chocolate. Ha, ha, ha, ha...
They ask me what kind of chocolate I want. I look funny (but politely) at them and said,"Chocolate!" They laugh. I don't care what kind of chocolate, just get me chocolate! Heh, heh... Kevin has to get home to take care of the boys, so he leaves. Later, I get sent a small bowl of good creamy chocolate pudding with whipped topping. Ooooooh, la, la... :-D
Eventually a physical therapist comes to check on my stability, etc. They just have to make sure the stroke had no effect, which apparently didn't (thankfully). The Speech Therapist comes back in the middle of this, so the PT tells her she can do this quickly. She hands me water and watches me swallow, asks me to chew on some graham crackers and swallow, and watches me. She's satisfied that I can swallow just fine and says I'm doing well. Lets me keep the pudding, cranberry juice, and the rest of the graham crackers. I was giddy! PT continues her testing on me, and is very pleased with how I am. She doesn't think I need any physical therapy. :-D
The rest of the day was just spent on resting, reading book, watching tv, till I was too tired, and went to sleep. What a day!
Tuesday: Nurse woke me up to check vitals, take medicine, and let me know my breakfast arrived. Delighted that I'm having french toast, my favorite breakfast! :-D Nurse also adds in "Today's Goal" box, "Home 2day". I got excited!!!! I text Kevin that, and he thinks the doctor's been seen. I told him no, and explained how I knew I was going home today. Told him I don't know when they'll release me, but it'll be sometime today.
A male nurse walks in, goes through the list of medicine I have to take, including the ones I take at home (except high blood pressure med). Asks me where I go to get my prescription filled, etc. A lady comes in asking me if I'd like a flu shot, and I decline. Honestly, I rarely ever get sick with the flu. I didn't think it was necessary. Maybe when I'm really old, but not now. Ha...
Kevin finally comes in after taking care of the boys and taking them to school. Not much to do here but to wait until a doctor comes in to talk to us before I can be released. Waiting is hard! Kevin finally says he's going for lunch, when my lunch is brought in. Asks me to text when the doctor comes in.
A nurse eventually walks in, looks in the direction where she knew Kevin was sitting, sees Kevin's not there, looks at me, and announces,"The doctor is here." I tell her I'll text Kevin to have him come here immediately. He does, and I told him to inform the nurse he is here, so he does. The doctor (the same one that got the neurologist to show up) comes in, talks to us. Lets us know every thing looks good, and that the neurologist wants me to continue wearing a heart monitor (I had been wearing one since I got into the ER). Groan.... just 24 more hours to wear one! This time, this is a lighter version that can be used at home. The hospital heart monitor I had was of pocket size, but a little heavy too. Kind of annoying to try to sleep comfortably with all the wires attached to me. LOL
We ask the doctor about my diet. He says I need to be on a low sodium and low cholesterol diet.
Otherwise, I'm being released. I get a nurse to take the IV port off!!!!! I HATED that thing the entire time, because it'd get itchy sometimes, and if I wasn't careful, it'd hurt. I did think it was strange when at the ER, that they drew blood from my right hand, it caused a bruise, but no bruise on my left hand, when the IV port has been in there for 4 days! Uhhhh... makes NO sense.... Oh well... Anyway, it's off! Thank goodness, no wearing a glove with tape around the base of the glove over my IV ported left hand (couldn't get it wet then, when I wanted to shower), to shower!
I take a shower, and I find out I have visitors (I failed to mention I had a steady stream of visitors over the last few days, and enjoyed every one of the visits!), so I had to hurry up, get dressed (with ACTUAL clothes, not hospital gown - yeah!), etc. It was this sweet family from a nearby town, and loved playing with their baby boy. They eventually leave.
It's getting close to 3, so we knew we would have to make arrangements to have someone pick up the boys from school, and my 2nd eldest son would have to walk home. Thankfully, we were able to get someone.
A different male nurse comes in to attach the home heart monitor. Awkward.... Because he had to slide those sticky things that the wires were attached to, to attach to my chest, under my bra! I'm thinking why they couldn't have just sent a female nurse?! I look awkwardly to Kevin, who awkwardly smiles at me. (We had a discussion later about that, and he reminded me that the male nurse must do that a lot, so it's nothing new to the nurse. I tell him it's still awkward, and he smiles and says,"I know, dear.") LOL!!!!!! Anyway, when that was all done, he looks at the time, and says to take it off at about 3:10 pm the next day. I look so forward to having it off tomorrow!!
At this point, I really don't remember exactly what happened, because I was so ready to go home, and we went home! Sorry, it's such a long story, but it has helped me do a lot of thinking.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, that the neurologist says I can no longer take high blood pressure meds. I had a discussion about that with Kevin. Kevin said the whole point of taking high blood pressure meds was to prevent a stroke. However he explained to me that now that I've had a stroke, the doctor wants me to have high blood pressure to prevent the dead area where the stroke happened from growing. I still had a hard time grasping that. So Kevin explained to me, that with the high blood pressure, more blood is pooled in around the dead area, sort of forming a shield to keep it from growing. Think of a web of veins wrapping around it. Aha, I get it now. Interesting.... and amazed at God, because he KNOWS what he IS doing!!!
I have blogged in the past about my needing to lose weight to get healthy. My struggle was that I just couldn't get a handle on so many things. I can tell you that this is the much needed gentle kick in the rear to get healthy. The whole time I stayed in the hospital, my meals were of cardiac diet, no sodium, and portioned to fit the hospital sized plate! I really didn't have a choice (except for once asking for chocolate), and it was good for me anyway. When I got home, I made sure I stuck to those portions. I am pretty sure I've lost some weight while in the hospital. I'm also pretty sure that my tummy has shrunk since then, because after eating those portions, I am full, sometimes I don't even finish eating because I'm getting too full. This time, I'm determined to not fall into the large portion trap again.
This brings up another issue with me. Kevin told me that the neurologist said that the next time the stroke happens again in my occupital lobe, there's a possibility I could go blind. YIKES! No, no, no.... not happening!!!! I'm deaf, and that alone is enough for me to handle. This is also why I said it is the much needed gentle kick in the rear to get healthy.
Let this be a message to those of you who are not healthy to get HEALTHY, lose weight to get HEALTHY! As my husband is so fond of saying in the church bulletin,"God bless you, and I love you." I mean it. <3