Saturday night I found myself at my best friends house for her birthday, just taking it easy and lounging around. While chatting I started to notice my body feeling oddly. I suddenly felt drained, exhausted, and nauseous, though I had moved a muscle. I took some anti-nausea meds and tried to move on as I often have odd symptoms such as this out of the blue. After about an hour the left side of my body started pulsing, like a surge of power was flowing through my arm and leg in perfect synchronization. With this new symptom came strange ocular malfunctions, I thought I was seeing things move out of the corner of my left eye, though nothing was there. As the symptoms heightened I decided it was probably time someone drove me home, something was definitely awry. By the time we reached the car it felt as though someone was releasing tight tourniquets down the entire left side of my body, and my eyes started to get a bit foggy, almost dreamlike. As we made our way down the driveway it suddenly felt as the the tourniquets had now located themselves in my chest, neck, and finally my head. At this point I lost the ability to communicate, and the left side of my body became numb and weak. Thankful my incredible friend and her family knew exactly what to do, and an ambulance arrived within just a few minutes! I was desperately trying to communicate with the people around me but nothing seemed to want to come out that wasn't a jumbled mess, or just simply a pleading expression.
Once we arrived at the ER we began testing for suspected stroke which involved Cat Scans, MRIs, and a full blood panel work up. Unfortunately this particular emergency department wasn't well equip or prepared to deal with a complex patient such as myself. The doctors seemed to stumble over my history with an obvious nervous expression, sending in one physician after another who they thought could "better assist me." When the young nurse went to access my port she failed to create a sterile field, use sterile gloves, or provide me with a mask, leaving me at a serious risk for a central line infection. She also forgot to waist the blood that resided in my ports reservoir resulting in completed tainted blood analysis. The errors continued through out the night, and the lack of care and monitoring was completely unacceptable. After being unable to find any evidence of a stroke on my radiology scans the doctors were puzzled and decided there was no further reason for me to be there. They sent me home with residual symptoms, no prescription, and discharge paper work that stated I had "unknown left side body paralysis." Obviously this emergency department was unqualified to care for a patient showing these symptoms, and yes, I have already called the Patient Relation Department to complain about the utter lack of appropriate protocol.
What this hospital failed to understand was that Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA), or Mini Strokes often leave no evidence on radiology scans as they are "transient" and dissolve quickly. Any patient displaying symptoms such as this should be admitted for monitoring, and for a detailed Neurologic, Vascular, and Cardiac work up. Especially someone at such a high risk as myself due to my illness, and family history. After being sent home I found myself awaking at 4pm the next day, exhausted from the previous nights venture. Luckily my episode left no residual damage to my body, besides sheer terror at the prospecting of having a TIA at the age of 24; within a few days I had completely recovered. My amazing Neuro-Headache Specialist, who actually used to be an ER Neurologist, was able to squeeze me into her schedule after she heard about my episode over the weekend, thank goodness for doctors who care! After reviewing the results of my scans, and listening to the detailed recollection of my story she had some interesting light to shed on the events of the weekend.
She believed the event sounded more like a Hemiplegic Migraine due to the timeline of the symptoms, my heavily decreased heart rate at the time (50), and my history with chronic migraines. Oddly enough their is a very rare type of migraine that produces the exact symptoms of a Stroke, and can even cause brain damage. These migraines leave no evidence on radiology scans and can last anywhere from days to weeks, leaving their victim paralyzed on one side of the body with an inability to speak, along with serious visual disturbances. For this reason studies have shown this specific type of migraine and Strokes are actually related as they both effect blood flow to the brain. Due to the lack of evidence on radiology scans a physician cannot actually prove or disprove a patient endured these rare types of migraines, however, neither can they often prove or disprove a patient had a TIA for the same reason. So in my case it looks like we will never know exactly what happened that night, though thankfully we can be sure I didn't have a full blown Stroke.