Saturday, January 17, 2009

Stroke of Luck

    Yeah ! That's right ! I had a stroke . The luck part ? Well, I survived with no harmful effects and I get to tell you about it and hopefully spread some useful information about strokes . Too often people do not survive strokes and many times are left with debilitation which is so severe they cannot function well enough to pass on information about strokes .
My wife had asked me to make a small shelf for her laundry room . I was outside on a fine May day and had measured and found a suitable piece of wood and tools to make and install the shelf. The next thing I knew I looked at the clock which said noon and wondered out loud where the last two hours had gone. My wife said ," Get your wallet . We're going to emergency." My wife doesn't drive ! Oops ! I remember getting in the car at the house and finding a parking place at emergency . I don't remember the rest of the drive. My wife is one of these people who after they've left home , wonder if they've locked the door . So I turned around and took her back to check the door . Afterwards she told me that I drove as usual.

     The emergency department was fabulous. They took some information and vital signs ... although I don't remember this. I was taken directly from triage to get a cat scan. My cat scan was done within 15 minutes of arriving at the hospital. My memory kicked in before the cat scan and I had continuous memory after that. The cat scan did not show any clots or bleeding .

     Now the incident I had was where the brain does not make any new memories. In other words no experiences you have during this time are retained in your memory. Thus I was able to drive with my usual skill , as I did not forget my driving skills . If I had met someone I knew , I would have recognized them and conversed with them , but I would not remember meeting them . For example, I had come into the house about 11:00 AM and asked my wife why the roaster was in the sink . She explained that I had put the roaster in the sink in the morning. I kept asking her the same question until she lost patience with me and I returned outside . I do not remember the roaster incident . So when I entered the house at noon and asked where the last two hours had gone , it immediately twigged with my wife that I had memory difficulties .

     So lesson number one is to be aware of those around you as to any out of the ordinary behaviours they may exhibit. The sooner a detection is made and you get to emergency the more successful treatment may be . The cat scan can detect any clots or bleeding. Drugs are available to break clots before they cause major damage . Lesson number two is don't let the suspected stroke patient drive . Further debilitation may occur on the drive which could lead to a very serious accident.

    I stayed in emergency for the day for observation. Appointments were set up for further tests. I have no history of high cholesterol or high blood pressure . I'm quite active , walk. cross country ski , skate and cycle at least 1000kms every summer . I'm low key , I eat a good diet . My wife has high cholesterol so I'm fortunate to benefit from her misfortune. I was sent home with much information on strokes and told not to drive for 21 days . An incident is more apt to recur in that time and after that not likely.

     My incident was termed transic global amnesia. After xrays and an EEG I met with my stroke specialist and she reviewed the tests which were all clear . I was discharged from the stroke clinic .

     Since I'm rather low stress the incident did not cause me any worry . However , I realize that for my family there is worry that something may happen which could be much more serious. Later in the summer I was cycling with my daughter and did a major summer sault on my bike . My daughter was behind me and I heard some major screaming . She was afraid that Dad had the big stroke and had expired on the bike trail. No such luck. Tree branches had hit me in the face . I put on the front brake and the bike went over .

     So be aware of conditions that may indicate a stroke and go directly to emergency .