Monday, November 2, 2015

Sometimes a headache is more than just a headache

On the night of October 3, 2012, I had the worst headache of my life, and I blames President Obama...that was the night of the first Obama/Romney debate, and he did a terrible job. I blamed him because I had a genuine fear of Mitt Romney as President. It was a fear that had gripped me since he was Governor of Massachusetts.

The headache was so bad I took 20 mg. of Flexeril to get to sleep, and when I woke up, I still had it.

My husband was getting ready for school -- he was teaching high school literally across the street from the apartment where we lived then -- and he asked me if I had drank enough coffee the day before. We decided maybe it was a caffeine-withdrawal headache and he made me a quad-shot espresso before he left.  I was supposed to have a mammogram that afternoon and I told him if I still had the headache, I was going to go up to the Women's Medicine clinic and have a friend of mine give me a Toradol shot.

He went on to school, I drank my coffee and the headache didn't go away. I had two classes that morning (Environmental Ethics and Constitutional Law) that I was attending by Skype, so I went into the bathroom to shower and get ready for my day.

I remember hanging my robe on the hook.

I remember feeling odd and laying the tablet on the sink.

I remember closing the toilet lid and sitting down.

I remember feeling like I was being "lit up" and thinking "What is happening to me?"

The next thing I knew I was waking up on the bathroom floor, my teeth broken, lacerations inside my mouth, a couple of scalp wounds and a laceration on my chin.

I am, first and foremost, a trained trauma services coordinator, and that training kicked in. I assessed myself. All of my digits moved, and all of my limbs moved as well, although I noticed that my contra-lateral (to the headache) leg felt weak. I grasped the side of the tub and pulled myself up and looked in the mirror.

That is when I saw the broken teeth and broken skin on my lips and chin and in my hair.

I burst into tears.

Then I tried talking...and what came out sounded like English, so I called 9-1-1 and told them I thought I might have had a stroke. The dispatcher asked me if they could get in and I said yes, my downstairs neighbors would let them in, and she told me to lie down and wait for the ambulance to arrive.

I remember putting my robe back on and checking the door to the apartment to make sure it wasn't locked, then I laid down.

The first two paramedics arrived within minutes and started the initial exam and assessment, then two more arrived on the scene. I went first to the community hospital where we have 100% coverage and never pay more than four bucks for a prescription.  There they immediately put me in a CAT scan machine, saw the bleed, and made the call to transfer me to St. Luke's because Neuro was closed at Truman, but before I was transfered, my chin was stitched up by a pediatric plastic surgeon who just happened to be in the ER at Truman that day instead of across the street at Children's Mercy.

I remember arriving at St. Luke's, but they sedated me pretty thoroughly.

I was in the hospital from the 4th to the 26th of October. The bleed turned out to be from a vertebral aneurysm, which is really sort-of a big deal, and I had a stroke when they were repairing it.

I had to learn to walk and swallow all over again, but I did it.

I finished the classes I was taking and withdrew from law school and got a dual degree in Counseling Psychology/Human Services and Special Education, and now I'm a teacher instead of a silver linings.

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