When you are someone that is always in complete control of the situation it is hard to let go of that control and allow the uncertainty of the situation take over. The uncertain elements that were slowly coming together to create a diagnosis, the uncertainty of how my life was going to change and what exactly the next steps were going to be.
It was now known that this was more serious than we thought or had anticipated and at that moment I was scared. I was scared for what was to come. I was scared for what I couldn’t control, which was right my hand, my livelihood as a business owner primarily on the computer, my face, slowly impairing my speech and my left leg. We both decided it was time to make the important phone calls to our families to update them on the news. That we didn’t know what was going on, but it wasn’t a hopeful situation by any means.
It was reaching close to midnight and I had gone in for my CT which had come back clean, showing no signs that I had suffered a stroke. A specialist was called in to examine me as Dr. Hastings suspected that the paralysis was due to a migraine. I have had migraines in the past, believe me debilitating migraines, but nothing like this. Nothing that was as earth-shattering like this. This was devasting to me. Once I was cleared of a stroke I was treated for a migraine through IV therapy. I had a migraine of a six, so to be diagnosed that a migraine of this level did this was shocking. After the combination of medications through the IV therapy were completed which took about an hour everything went back into place including my face. My hand regained its strength and my foot was back tapping away anxiously. I remember thinking that I will never take for granted listening to music and tapping to the beat or being able to pull my own blanket over myself if I was cold. Unfortunately, those thoughts were too soon.
Once the specialist came in again to examine me over he was assured that what I had experienced was a migraine as my paralysis had diminished. Both doctors wanted to ensure that I hadn’t experienced a mini-stroke which can be picked up by an MRI. I would have to be admitted and stay overnight. After their decision was made, I looked at my fiance, brother and parents who had come in after Sidney had called them. Complete support and love were projecting from all of their eyes but behind them was complete fear. Fear of the uncertainty ahead. Fear of the unknown. Worry seeping through, seeing their child in a hospital bed and not knowing how to fix the problem or exactly what was going on. It was devasting putting everyone through those emotions. Laying in a bed watching them knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it.
I knew that I had to decide within myself that I had to push forward. To keep smiling and joke about the situation as I was determined to get better. This was not going to stop me in anyway shape or form. Everyone was telling me this was a good sign that the CT came back clear and that I didn’t have a stroke, which I knew, but why did it not feel as good as they were letting on. A migraine shouldn’t do this, should it?
After being wheeled up and settled on the stroke unit I was exhausted. It was 2:00 am at this point. I thought well I will get this test over with and I will be home Thursday afternoon at the latest. Little did I know my body had another plan for me. I woke up only a few hours later to a warm and inviting voice that was my nurse for the day, Ruth. She would later become my nurse for the many days that I would remain there. When I awoke my left side was asleep. I couldn’t wake it up. Even worse, my face had drooped even further than the previous night. My jaw had fused shut and my eye was closing on me so that I could not see anymore. The paralysis had crept up from my hand to my elbow to my should like a mouse being chased by a snake trying to escape death.
If you want to feel escaping excitement it was like air being pushed out of a balloon in four seconds flat coming into my room that day learning that the paralysis was back, the meds didn’t work. Sidney slept in my room with me that night and when he awoke to find the revelation of my left side it was disheartening. It felt even more so when my parents entered the room. Dr. Rajabelly, the specialist I had seen the night before came in and proceeded with the Neuro exam. Squeeze my fingers, pull your feet forward and back and so on, which I had trouble with every question he asked. It was no question that I needed to be sent for an MRI. By 12:30 pm I was in a wheelchair and whisked away for an MRI.
All the way down I tried to hide my face with my non-effected hand so that no one would stare. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this. I had been up to go to the bathroom that morning and I mistakenly looked in the mirror and burst into tears. I was a monster. I didn’t recognize myself. I remember touching my affected side trying to push it back into its rightful place, but it no use it just wouldn’t move. I wouldn’t let Sidney look at me. I was so embarrassed.
After entering into the MRI machine, I was alone. It was the first time since this had all began that no once was around. It is hard in a hospital to experience this I have learned. Someone is always there either watching or asking questions. I could hear the technicians over the intercoms telling me that it will be loud and it will be over in the next few moments. It sounded like a freight truck was going to plow me over. Being alone made everything even more real. This was happening, what was I going to do about the wedding, about work? I was in the magnetic room for twenty-five minutes but for me it felt like five minutes. Towards the end, I started to cry. I wanted out. I wanted to go home in my own bed with my dog watching Netflix. I thought a good reality tv marathon was my cure for everything back then. When I came out after the twenty-five minutes, things get worse. My jaw was almost fused all the way shut, the paralysis had moved over to my nose down to my lips leaving only small movement out of the right corner of my mouth. I couldn’t see out of my left eye, my eyelid had drooped so low. I was wheeled out to both Sidney and my Mom and to my Mom saying, “It has gotten worse, hasn’t it.” All I could say was a muffled, “I know.” crying. I am pretty sure only toddlers could understand what I was saying. I feel a special bond with them now and their baby talk language. As we wheeled up, I knew this wasn’t good.
Once we got back to my hospital room, I got settled in bed and stared out of the window. It wasn’t long after the doctor came back with the MRI results which were clear. I didn’t have a stroke. No permanent damage to my brain. This was good news. I was diagnosed with a hemiplegic migraine. My question was when would my paralysis go away. We were told it could take, days, weeks, months. Not exactly promising. I didn’t have time for this. I had things to do. So we waited and waited. But things didn’t exactly get better. I was still broken and needed fixing.