It's interesting how something happens that makes you pause and slow your life down. I thought I'd been doing better about taking time for my family and me, not pushing the envelope quite so much, and had found a way to deal with the insurmountable stress from my job - but fate throws you a curve ball sometimes. Last night, the curve ball hit me.
Standing in Books-A-Million (and it's always super fun when things like this happen in a public place) Friday night about 5p I experienced an episode that landed me in the emergency room. A searing pain shot down my left arm, it went numb and dead, my vision blacked out, and my heart raced to a unsafe speed. And while I did not lose consciousness entirely, it was very scary. EMS was called and I was transported to Gateway and then to Skyline Medical Stroke center. They thought I'd had a stroke. Yes a stroke. I couldn't believe it - I'm 35, non-smoker, athletic, etc...But I've found medical illness is not picky. It was, by far, the scariest moment of my life. I'm still quite shaken. They did an MRI and it was clean (thank GOD!) and I was released at approximately 2:30a diagnosed with complicated/complex migraine. I did not know such a thing existed. I have terrible headaches all the time (and had a vicious one Friday morning), but really just thought they were stress and nothing more. That's what happens when you ignore the signs I guess. This past week I've had them more often with extreme fatigue throughout the day to where I've actually had to sit down. I thought I was just tired - end of semester, etc....but, apparently I'd ignored some very important clues my body was sending me. I am having to do a follow-up appt. some time this week for a full cardio and neurological work-up (recommended- family history of heart attacks and strokes). They said it cold be a myriad of things that brought this on, a pinched nerve or extreme stress (hmmm - wonder how that's possible?!?!?! - when I told them what I did for a living, they decided on stress...) but want to be thorough.
But, here's the thing. Through this little ordeal God was by my side and I knew it the entire time. A paramedic was in line at the store and immediately tended to me and my needs, took my blood pressure and reported it to the 911 dispatch. I felt complete trust in him and his wife, which I believe God sent to me. I handed her my car keys because I'd left my phone in the car knowing with 100% certainty she would get my phone, lock my car, and return both items to me. Never a moment of doubt. I kept myself completely calm, which is why I believe I didn't fully pass out. I went through the questions you ask a stroke patient about my face drooping, my tongue being crooked, was my speech slurred without panic and I remembered to regulate my own breathing knowing that trying to get my blood pressure down was critical at this point.
My first set of EMT's were super nice going so far as to let CJ get in the ambulance to make sure I was okay. He was devastated to see me strapped down with wires and tubes coming out of my body. His tears hurt my heart, but Jerry was right there lifting him up, keeping him calm, and communicating with me through only his eyes - I could see his worry and concern, but CJ never did and this, too, was a blessing from God.
When I arrived at Gateway, the one and only person I know that works there was on duty; Jennifer Mayers. She only works a few shifts a month and I knew the odds of her being there were not great, but once again, God intervened and she came to my room, got me a small snack to eat, and checked back on me several times even though I was not her patient. Her husband, Eli, a deacon at the church came to pray with me.
My transport to Skyline Medical Center provided me with a Christian EMT and we talked about God and religion and schooling and books all the way to Nashville. He gave me a couple of scenarios of what might be wrong with me and shared them each in calming and nurturing way. Even told me how strong my heartbeat was - I was making the reader jump to the top of the charts. My blood pressure began to even out and by the time I arrived at Skyline, I was feeling much better.
My nurse at Skyline lives literally up the road from Jerry and me...what are the odds??? We talked about Clarksville and the schools here. He was kind and funny. My final doctor of the evening that read my MRI and diagnosed my condition - his wife was a high school English teacher.
My experience at both emergency rooms was superb. I was well informed and cared for. Never once did I find myself agitated or frustrated with the service of the medical professionals that worked on me. God is good.
I am reminded through this ordeal of the Bible verse from Psalm: Psalm 56:3-4
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
I was scared but not in a way that I felt deserted by my Lord. He was there, in all of these people, providing me comfort and peace and for this, I am grateful.
Now for my diagnosis: With a “complex/complicated migraine” symptoms can include weakness, loss of vision, or difficulty speaking in addition to a headache, this type of headache can often cause short-term paralysis of body parts – often mimicking a stroke. The symptoms can happen whether or not the headache pain is still there. My headache had gone away earlier in the day with the use of OTC meds, but my body was still fighting the symptoms.
I am thankful to everyone that was a part of making me feel safe and secure and I most grateful to God that it was not a stroke. I have my follow-up this week and am hopeful for recommendations to help prevent or control this type of situation again. Never doubt that God is with you...he is.