Before the memory fades…

I did it!  I made it to the big 50!  Just a few months ago I started out my day with excitement to see my new nephew.  I got myself ready, headed out to run a few errands before driving to my brother’s house.  I got in my car and pulled down the mirror to check my makeup like I always do.  My bright pink lipstick looked like I had a makeover done by a 6 year old.  I fixed it the best I could and continued on my way. When I reached the bank I found that I was extremely confused.  I was making a simple deposit and could not count the cash I had in my hand.  I must have counted it 8 times.  When I walked up to the teller, I could not remember how much money I had just counted.  I was in a total state of confusion. Needless to say, I received weird looks from the teller who probably thought I was stoned.  I didn’t think much about the confusion at the time since I suffer from sleep apnea.  I’m always so exhausted.  There are days that I can barely function.  Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on the entire body. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for quite a few years now.

I made it to New Jersey with no problems.  Normally I get lost, so I was very impressed with my navigation skills for a change.  We sat down to eat lunch and I noticed that my face felt tingly.  It’s funny how we all pass around articles containing warning signs of different medical emergencies, but, when it’s actually happening to you, those signs don’t pop into your mind.  After not being able to chew, I mentioned it to my brother.   He said he noticed that my lips looked weird.  Hmm… tingly face and lips drooping and mental confusion?  Even though all the signs were there, I refused to believe that I could be possibly having a stroke.  I refused to go to the hospital because I would not accept that this was happening to me.

I waited until the next morning and went to urgent care.   After taking my blood pressure, I found myself in the back of an ambulance, being rushed to the emergency room.  I can still feel the panic I felt that day when one paramedic whispered to the other, “she’s having a stroke”.  It was absolutely terrifying.  I now know what it feels like to be staring death in the face.  So many thoughts rushed through my mind at that moment.  All I could think of was what would happen to my children and my parents.

As I was questioned by multiple doctors, I realized this went all the way back before my lipstick fiasco.  My nights consist of jumping out of a deep sleep, gasping for air, feeling my heart slow down, feeling my body descend into blackness.  It’s as though I come close to death every night.  I wake up every morning thanking god for yet another day because when I close my eyes at night, I’m sure it will be my last.  On the night before I started with all of these symptoms, I was awoken by what I thought was an apnea.  This one felt a bit different from the rest.  My body leaped into a sitting position, which is normally when I start to feel like I’m going to survive.  The feeling lasted much longer than it normally does.  I didn’t remember until a few days later that on that night I had a dream that I was driving on a bridge with my son Nicholas. It was dark out.  A white car with very bright headlights was heading toward us.  The car was in the wrong lane and heading directly for us.  I swerved, but the car purposely swerved in the same direction.  The two cars danced back and forth between lanes until my car had nowhere else to go but directly into the bright headlights.  As we crashed, I could hear my son’s voice screaming out to me.  Even now, when I recall that dream, I have an overwhelming feeling of loss.  I lost part of myself that night.  The worst part is that I will probably never regain it back.

I feel so incredibly lucky that I have been able to make a physical recovery.  My deficits are all internal.  I’ve lost the part of my brain that fully comprehends things.  I can listen to every word that is spoken to me, but, I am only comprehending half of it.  The bright side is that I can block someone out without even intending on it.   It definitely comes in handy sometimes.

I struggle with numbers and math.  Sometimes it’s actually hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced this.  It’s frustrating that my mind is saying a certain number, but my hand writes a different number.  Just recently I met a man who also suffered from a stroke.  He works in finance.  We both had a good laugh when we realized that we both work with numbers but now can barely understand them.  A sense of humor is most important in dealing with this and just about everything else that life throws at you.

I have been told that the odds are against me and I will possibly have another stroke. My fear normally sets in as bedtime approaches.  I try to keep myself calm and realize that I am not in control of this.  I do what I can to keep myself healthy and as stress free as I can.  That’s another thing that I find humorous.  The doctors all recommend keeping stress out of my life.  Hmmm, I have two children and a stressful job.  So how should I go about eliminating the stress I ask?

So, what do I want to accomplish with this blog?  I would like to preserve my memories in case I suffer from yet another stroke and will not be able to function enough to do so.  My biggest fear is that all my thoughts and memories will be stuck inside my head, spinning around like an eternal merry go round.