It happens suddenly, out of the blue, from nowhere. You know that you want to talk, the words are there, somewhere, but they just cannot come out. He starts to ask you questions: what is your name, what is his name, what day is it. Really, you know that these answers are somewhere, but you are unable to find them, and even worse, you know that you are unable to get them. One or two letters might float around in your head, and somehow they relate to the questions being posed to you, but you can't reach them and pull them to your mouth in order for actual sense to be made. It is as if someone shut off your ability to speak. A switched went from "on" to "off".
Suddenly, you are brought to the hospital, and there is a flurry of activity around you. You are rushed into the nurse's triage room, and as your right arm is being prepared for a line to go in, the nurse is asking you questions. Basic questions, However, you cannot answer as the words are gone. Your blood pressure starts to raise as you being increasingly upset, and begin to understand that something is seriously wrong. The IV is in and you see the dark ruby color fill up have of the line. The nurse asks your name. You cannot answer. Your age, nope, and hopefully you look good enough that she will guess lower than it actually is... Your address... Luckily H knows these answers, and he fills in the blank when needed.
Again, more activity, and you are placed on a gurney and brought into the CT-Scan room. The test occurs, but no one gives you any information. In your head you try over and over again to talk, and try to make sense of words, it all begins with the alphabet. Maybe you can do the A-B-Cs? And just as you try and get the first 6 letters out, you are asked to stop, and rest. They insist that you try to relax as you need to decrease your blood pressure.
As you lie on the gurney, with H by your side after the first test, the ER doctor walks in - tall, blond thinning hair, angular face, creases around his eyes. And his eyes are kind, probably due to his job. He pulls up a stool and sits down one your right side. His face is merely inches from yours. He starts to ask you questions: your age, what activity you did that day, have you taken any medication, specifically, have you taken cocaine? You desperately shake your head no, and can hardly believe the question.
He tells you that he sees something that he does not like something on the CT-Scan, and he would like to do another one, this time with contrast. You look into his eyes and nod. What else can you do? Your options are not very plentiful.
A nurse comes in and takes you back down the hallway and in to the CT-Scan room. She explains that the contrast is going to warm you, even make you feel hot. No one really lets you move, and you are limited to that gurney. She leaves the room, and there you are alone. With your thoughts and nothing else. Still no voice to explain your fear, frustration, or the beginning of a massive headache that would be more painful than you could possibly explain. Following the nurse's cue, you feel the warm rush of the contrast liquid pour into your vein and spread out into your chest, pelvic area, arms and legs. It does not last more than a few seconds, but for some reason feel like a lot longer.
She takes you back to your room, and after a few minutes the doctor reemerges. His face is grim, and there is a shadow sadness over his eyes. He pulls the stool up again to your right side, and he sits down.
"Lily, you've had a stroke. You have a 1.5 cm blood clot in your head." And after hearing those words, your life is forever changed.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Be Aware. Know the Signs, the Symptoms.