Tuesday, June 3, 2014

According to my neurologist, I'm to report any new neurological symptoms. It's difficult to report anything to my neurologist considering the next available appointment for existing patients is not until November. How f'ing ridiculous is that?

Anyhow, the past few days I've noticed, and this is hard to describe, that my chin and the portion underneath my lower lip seem to quiver for no reason when I relax my face. I use the word "relax" because I typically have some sort of facial expression and rarely have a totally relaxed face. Even when I'm in deep thought, reading, or doing something on my iPhone, I always have a facial expression that requires the use of muscles to generate a facial expression. Granted, it doesn't happen every time I relax my face, but still.

Although this may seem minor, it's still disconcerting. I had a stroke to the left side of my cerebellum resulting in about 50% damage to the left side. So if this is stroke related, why is it affecting both the left and right sides of my chin/lower lip? I'd like to chalk it up to the latest change in my psych meds.

Is this considered a neurological symptom? Do I want to know? I'm thinking the answers may be possibly yes and probably no respectively.

In other news on the negative news front, I received a statement of benefits from my insurance company regarding my ER visit. The cost for my ER visit, including three CAT scans - $12,658! Of that, I'll have to pay 20%. Yay! Add that to the other $12,000 some odd dollars I already owe the same hospital from my ICU stay last year. Unfortunately, the latter balance is 100% my responsibility.

Meanwhile, on the good news front, I won a copy of Stephen King's latest novel, Mr. Mercedes. I had forgotten I entered a contest on his website. I arrived home today and found a package from Simon and Schuster. I knew there was a book inside but had no idea why one would have been sent to me. It's not a signed copy, but hey, I won something! It's the little things that make me happy these days.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

13 Months Post-Stroke

I haven't written in the past couple of months. I've been rather busy.

The first anniversary of my stroke was two months ago. I went back to work for the first time one week prior to that. Unfortunately, I had to start a new job with a different company as my former company did a mass layoff of my department shortly after my stroke. I guess that's one way to get rid of someone on short-term medical disability.

Going back to work was difficult. It wasn't easy getting past the tiredness I felt, and still feel, every day. Fortunately, I don't have any negative after effects as a result of the stroke, just the lingering tiredness, so I can't complain too much.

My husband doesn't understand my need for extra sleep during weekends which irks the hell out of me. I'm constantly telling him he will just have to deal with it.

On the anniversary of my stroke, I relived every single moment of that day. I was even afraid to go to sleep the night prior as my stroke happened around 3 AM in the morning. I recalled how I felt crappy the day before and the dizzy spells I had. I didn't know then that I had already had a vertebral artery dissection.

In hindsight, I realized I must have had the artery dissection approximately four months before the stroke. I can remember dizzy spells starting at that time, one so severe that I could barely walk from my office to my car without feeling as though I was being violently pushed to one side. It was so severe I was surprised I even made it to my car. Once I did, I fell against the car to keep from falling. I did not immediately drive anywhere. I sat in my car leaning forward with my head between my knees for about 30 minutes. The dizzy feeling was unlike any I had felt before and very difficult to explain to anyone else.

A couple of days later I decided I needed to see my general practitioner. I explained the dizzy spells I had been feeling, including the one where I had difficulty walking to my car. He examined me but could not explain the reason for the dizziness. As they had only happened on three or four occasions and none to the extreme of the walking to the car incident, he felt there was no need for further investigation. It did not occur to me to ask for a CAT scan. Apparently it did not occur to him either.

On the anniversary of my stroke I did a lot of thinking, a lot. I wondered, and still do, why I never had any type epiphany or major change in my outlook on life. I think it's rather sad that I haven't. I don't know what I expected, though.

I was 42 when I had my stroke to the cerebellum. I never cried or felt sorry for myself after the stroke. While in hospital, my mother kept commenting that I was the most chipper stroke patient she had ever seen. She kept telling me not to be so chipper or the doctors would think there was nothing wrong with me. No matter that they kept me in the Neuro ICU ward for nine days because of the brain swelling and that, according to the neurosurgeon, I narrowly escaped a craniectomy. I kept thinking to myself that she's a very intelligent woman and why the hell would she think or say such.

Because I haven't had an emotional reaction to having a stroke, my Buddhist friend tells me that's unhealthy and that I will have to deal with it eventually. I'm not sure exactly what he means or how I am supposed to do so considering I'm not a Buddhist.

Really the only reaction I've had, if you can call it a reaction, is being pissed off that I had a vertebral artery dissection followed by a cerebellar stroke. I'm not constantly angry about it, though, but I do think about it every day, at least respective to the artery dissection and my neck. I'm nervous as hell about having anything else happen to my neck. I worry every time I drive that someone is going to rear end me and cause a major neck injury.

I recently had dinner with a friend I had not seen in about eight years. He ran up to me and grabbed me very quickly and firmly to give me a hug. Being that I am only 5'1" tall and he's at least a foot taller than I, my neck bent backward. According to my doctors, I'm not to hyper extend my neck back. My neck started hurting at that moment and hurt throughout dinner.

After three days of it continuing to hurt, I decided to go to the emergency room. Better to be safe than sorry. While there, I had a CT scan to check the artery. I had already had four scans while in hospital and two in the months following. At the six-month point the neurologist said my artery did not heal. As of 13 months after the stroke, it has still not healed. I'm told it never will.

According to the neurologist, I'll be just fine and dandy living with only one functioning vertebral artery. I can tell by the way he tells me so I'm supposed to be relieved. I'm not! I'll constantly worry about my neck. At least the ER doctor, who knew after the last CT scan that the artery did not heal, understood why I'm worried. He said that most everyone who's had an artery dissection feels the same. He didn't make me feel like a head case like my neurologist does. My neurologist is almost dismissive. For that, and other reasons, I need a new neurologist to say the least.

So that's what I've been doing for the past couple of months. Work work work and worrying three hours daily (during my commute from hell) whether or not I'm going to be rear ended by another car. Fun, fun.