Friday, July 13, 2012

TIA - Do You Know How To Spot One?

I removed this...I wonder what will happen now!!
Back in November or December, I went to the doctor.  At work the night before, I started having these really weird sensations.

My cheek (I don't remember which side) started to tingle and twitch, almost feeling numb.  Then I started to notice that my arm, on the same side, had the same feeling, and eventually it started to go down to my leg.  I had a massive headache, migraine type. 

I finished my shift, and went home.  I thought, maybe this will pass, I will be fine.

The next morning I woke up and it was still happening.  I called my doctors office, went in, my blood pressure was through the roof, and they sent me to the hospital. 

After quite a few tests, CT scans, bloodwork etc...The doctors there decided that I had a TIA, Transient Ischemic Attack.  Not sure what that means?  Basically, a mini-stroke.

I am 36 years old, and I really didn't think this should be happening to me. 

The doctors told me I should be taking baby aspirin everyday, and that I should make some lifestyle changes. 

Like I said, 36 years old, though I don't really feel that old.  So, when you feel young, you feel invinceable...right?  I didn't bother with the changes, or the aspirin, and I carried on with my life.

A few months later, I went back to the hospital, much sooner then before, because of the same symptoms.  They decided that I must have some kind of a nerve problem...this was at the hospital that doesn't deal with stroke.  I went home feeling ok about things, and still, didn't bother with the changes.

Then this week happened.  On Sunday, I started to feel the tingling again, in my cheek and my right arm.  I thought, I better go to the store and check my blood pressure.  It was 151/101.  Yup, pretty high.  Then I started to feel the tingling in my right leg.

Off I went to the hospital.  I went to the hospital that specializes in stroke this time. 

I was in a bed in the ER within 30 minutes, had the "stroke under 50" bloodwork done immediately (at least 12 viles of blood), and there was a flurry of people in and out of my area. 

My blood pressure dropped to normal, quickly, and I was hooked up to the ECG machine.  There was a "Stroke Clock" placed by my bed and within 4.5 hours, I was admitted and on the stroke unit of the hospital.

The nurses asked me questions: "What is your name? What day is it? Where are you?  What is this? (holding up a pen), What is it used for? and If I throw a rock in a lake, will it sink or float?"

2 of my visitors...they shared my supper one night!

I could answer all the questions ok.  I had some aching in my right side, it was no longer tingling.

I saw the doctor the next day and he said that they didn't believe that I had a stroke, but they were going to run a few more tests on me.  I found out, when the OT and PT came to see me, that I had nystagmus in my eyes (shaking eyes).  I had no idea. 

I was on pureed food, until I had a swallow test done with the speech pathologist. 

The doctor made arrangements for me to have a neck ultrasound, to check the carotid artery, and an MRI to see if I had a brain;-)

Those tests happened the next day, they were all normal (yes, my brain IS normal!!  I have proof now:-) 

The last day (2.5 days later) I was told that I most likely had a TIA (again).  He sent me home with prescriptions for aspirin and a cholesterol lowering medication.  He suggested that my cholesterol should be kept below the normal suggestion.

I had passed the stairs test, and I was only having pain in my finger joints.  Almost like they were bruised.  But, I was told that was normal when there is any kind of change in feeling in a part of the body.  To just keep moving them and exercising them and it would be fine.

Yesterday, I went out to do some running around, and I realized that my right side is definitely not back to normal.  I could drive, but it quickly became uncomfortable.  My hand was still hurting, and it almost seemed like it was in pain more then the other day. 

Just this morning, I nearly lost my balance and fell...I caught myself...but, I can't help but realize that this really did affect me more then I had thought.

This morning, I also took my aspirin.  I realize now, that this is pretty serious, and I can't take it lightly.  I also realize that not many people my age think about this as an issue for them, but it is. 

From the NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) website on Stroke and TIA:

TIAs are often warning signs that a person is at risk for a more serious and debilitating stroke. About one-third of those who have a TIA will have an acute stroke some time in the future.
So, I'm not invinceable.  I have actually been given a gift.  It is how I am looking at it.  I have been given the warning signs so I can make changes and be more prepared in the future.  I have been given the opportunity to be able to come home, and not have to endure some of the long term effects that a full stroke can have on a body.

I am thankful that it was nothing more serious, and that the circle of people in my life are amazing.  I am thankful for prayer and for strong people that I can surround myself with.

And I am thankful that I am alive and well.  I am making the changes necessary, I am taking this seriously, I need to be around for my kids. 

I am trying to learn to manage my stressors, I am learning to say no when I really can't do things.  I am also learning to rest more.  These things aren't always easy for me to do, because it can leave me feeling bad, feeling like I am letting people down...but I am learning to not let myself down...

Would you recognize a TIA if you were having one?  It does not distinguish between people...and you don't have to be over 50 in order to experience it...Know the signs and the time frames that you need to follow if you are having one...

This knowledge can save your life!!


  1. oh my gosh Ruth!! This is crazy scary! Prayers for you! and (((hugs)))