My Gift to You is a Warning …

This incident falls under the “disguised gift” category–for sure. And yet, even through it all, I can already see evident graces. I’m sure there are more I can’t see now, some I’ll perhaps never see, and some that will unfold.

The gift of this warning could save your life, or the life of a loved one.

Last Saturday night, I noticed a tingling in my jaw. I also felt a bit dizzy. I sat down and opened my mouth to tell Gene, my husband, something was wrong.

To my horror, what came out was garbled speech!

I knew then I was in trouble. I tried to say, “I think I’m having a stroke. We have to go to the hospital–NOW!”

My husband got the idea, garbled though my speech was. All I could remember about strokes was that these were the symptoms, and that there is a limited window of opportunity for effective treatment. I had no idea what that window is. (I now know–it’s 3 hours.)

Fortunately, we live maybe 3 minutes from one of the leading research hospitals in the country for stroke. (Gift!)

Nevertheless, it seemed like the car was crawling to the hospital. I kept trying to say, “Hurry up, this is an emergency!” My speech was getting worse and worse. Gene did run the last red light.

They took me in right away. As I was being assessed, my speech returned and the tingling ceased. My relief and gratitude knew no bounds, and carried me through the next 3 days of testing. (Another great gift.)

I had to stay an extra day–not much is done on Labor Day, even in a hospital. I spent Monday doing something I NEVER do–watched an entire day and evening of a marathon TV show–“The Closer,” which was new to me–so it was kind of fun. An enforced mini-vacation day (gift!).

Many tests later, they determined I had indeed had a “mini-stroke” or TIA, and the cause was a hole in my heart, through which blood clots can pass. Many people have this hole in the heart, but don’t know it until something like this happens. (It has to do with a valve that’s supposed to slam shut at birth, but doesn’t always, or doesn’t do it perfectly, apparently.)

I reveal this because, as my story has gotten out, people have told me of times when something similar happened to them. But they didn’t seek medical help, because the symptoms passed, as they did with me.

Folks, my gift to you is a warning: Don’t ignore any numbness, tingling, dizziness, slurred speech, vision problems, sudden headaches, or any other unusual symptoms–even if they pass after a few minutes. Most people who have major, debilitating strokes had one or more TIAs beforehand.

Getting a medical diagnosis and treatment right away could save your life, and spare your family much grief in case you’re disabled by a stroke. My treatment is simple–aspirin and a blood thinner. Much better to pop a couple of pills than be unable to speak or walk or dress myself for the rest of my life….

One Reply to “My Gift to You is a Warning …”

  1. Many thanks to all the caring people who sent me an email with their concern and wishes for my good health. I am grateful for your support, even from many I have never met in person.

    I am happy to report I’m doing well still. I have to decide whether to participate in a study to determine which treatment is better: to fix the hole in my heart (underlying cause of the TIA–the procedure is not open-heart surgery), or stay on blood-thinning medication. I’ll need wisdom for that decision! Comments welcome. –Diane

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