Bleak, dark posts are not my style and I hope this one doesn’t come across that way. I want to share so others may better understand what a person goes through during a stroke. Every stroke is different, no two are alike, but looking back I remember that night and how my mind was trying to tell me something was wrong.
It’s 2004 and we are downsizing due to some financial difficulties. I had been working all day packing my office area up. I also had neglected to take my blood pressure medicine so I would have more energy. That, was a stupid move I know.
Around 9:30pm I gave up for the night due to a small nagging headache and feeling tired. At 11pm I awoke and had trouble swallowing. My thought was weird, I was saying to myself, “I’ve forgotten how to swallow.” I had to try very hard to swallow. I felt no alarm at not being able to swallow as I should have felt, instead I woke Michelle and told her just that I didn’t feel good. Around 1am the dog awakened me wanting to do her nightly bathroom run. This is where I noticed the first symptoms, yet my mind was not yet allowing me to process it as a problem, if that makes any sense.
I started to roll to the right to get out of bed and it just felt “difficult”. Not painful, It was as if my brain knew at that moment that the left leg was not operating right, and I needed to leave the bed in another manner. Michelle woke up as I was getting up. I remember exiting the bed backwards, scooting down the length towards the foot where there was no foot-board.
The next thing was as I stood up and started towards the bedroom door, I thought, “That’s funny, my left leg is asleep, I continued calmly going towards the bedroom door dragging my left foot. Something in my mind was saying that’s not right, but something else was still pushing me forward to try to continue on normally. The leg was supporting weight, but the knee seemed to be non-functional. Again, it didn’t alarm me and it should have. It was almost as if part of my mind was registering that the leg was not performing as it should, yet another part convinced me everything is just fine. I let the dog out, 30-40 seconds later she comes back in. I’m looking out the door holding the glass storm-door open.
As the dog comes in, I close the door on my head! I remember thinking, alright stupid, how do you forget to pull your head in before closing the door. Reaching the bedroom Michelle is watching me and asks what is wrong with my leg, that I was now actually dragging along as if it were a normal thing to do. She was asking me why I backed out of the bed just now. I sat on the edge of the bed feeling unsteady. My left arm felt “not there”. I looked at it and started to raise my hand to look and see why it felt strange and that is when I realized It was in slow motion. The arm would hardly raise. I told Michelle I was having trouble and needed a hospital. Something in my head was calmly saying stroke. She called the daughter who rushed to our home and we went to the emergency room.
I remember the intake nurse asking me to raise my hands up in front of me, and I noticed that the left arm/hand was about a foot lower than the right. “How Strange”, was my thought at that moment as I was applying the same amount of effort.
Those were the strange feelings and symptoms I exhibited that night. It was later determined that I had suffered a moderate stroke in the area of the “Pons” on the right side of the brain stem. This affected for me my speech, and on the left side of my body it affected the mouth, face, arm, leg. I had no use at all of the left side. After I received the stroke medicine, I was able to swallow a little better. I spent 8 days in the hospital and I used a wheel-chair for a month when I got home, as I could not walk.
It was just strange, I felt “there” but I didn’t feel “there”.
I hope this helps anyone that has never had a stroke. Don’t panic, but try to notice any really absolutely abnormal behavior, and mention it to someone. I was also fortunate that I am right-handed.