As I sat in the hospital bed and ate my dinner, I thought back to an earlier encounter with this hospital about three years ago. It was a Friday afternoon in July and I was working on my laptop at a national sandwich shop. I would use Fridays to get caught up on my work without interruption. Dan, my partner and the CEO of our company, was usually away on Fridays too. In the summers on Friday mornings, he often worked at an affiliate veterinary clinic up north. Then he was within two hours from his cottage. His wife would usually take the summer off from our veterinary practice and she would stay up north with their boys.
Around 5 pm, I needed to go to the bathroom and I put my computer in the sleep mode. When I stood up, on my left side, my body was asleep. I thought it was odd. It is when you get up after sitting your leg and it is asleep, you nearly fall over because your leg does not respond properly. Except in this situation, it was as if I had laid prone on my side and somehow had cut some of the circulation to my down side. That was the only way I could describe the sensation I felt. As I went to the bathroom, I attempted several times to shake off the numbing, tingling feeling through my whole left side. As I was using the urinal with the funny feeling still, I decided I should do the prudent thing and call an ambulance to take me to the hospital.
I called 911, answered the person’s questions, and sat down on a chair outside of the bathroom to wait. In a few minutes, the sirens and flashing lights would be just outside the shop to help me. While I was expecting the ambulance and the police to arrive, I called the shop while I was sitting in the shop’s lobby to tell them of my predicament and to be courteous. I wanted to give the shop a heads up about what was going to happen. I would want that call if I was the manager of the shop.
There were paramedics leading the emergency personnel and policed. They checked to make sure I was stable and I got to ride in the paramedic’s ambulance with the siren and the flashing lights going. It was an exciting two-mile trip. The doctor and his team gave me a thorough exam and they did all the tests the doctor had ordered. I waited quietly still with the weird sensation on my left side, but it was much less noticeable. Then the doctor arrived with the test results in hand. While he was talking to me, the unusual feeling on my left side went away. I was healed I thought! The doctor diagnosed that I had a TIA – transient ischemic attack. What is this all about?
He told the issues I should be concerned about and recommended that I needed to have the tests ”yesterday.” After all, he was an emergency physician. I imagined that many things to him are STAT (which meaning immediately) or urgent. In my mind, I looked at how many hours it would require to get them done, spread out over months or one more day in the hospital. I decided to take his advice, stay in and have the tests done tomorrow while I was there.
Then next they did the tests. The main test I wanted to get done was an ultrasound of my carotid arteries. The carotid vessels serve our brains and it is essential the arteries are clear. The doctor wanted to make sure that my carotid channels were not be blocked when fatty deposits (plaques) clog one or both of my carotid vessels. When I got the results from the technician (though not official until a doctor examined my results), I was ecstatic. She said it was as clean as a child has the test taken. I felt that I could eat a big, sharing-size bag of M’s & M’s at one seating. I left the hospital happy.
I saw a neurologist about a month later and he concluded that he could not see the reason I had the TIA. He recommended that I take a baby aspirin a day. Then he concluded I was stable and there was no further testing needed. He figuratively washed his hands of my case and went on to others. I was happy to have done what I needed to do and could get on with my life. What I (and the doctors who were looking at my case) did not suspect, was that I had a big bomb ticking away waiting to go off. Little did I realize, it went off in my head causing the stroke I was in the hospital now pondering my past incident.
To be continued in a later blog. Please leave your comments!