I was too busy to have a stroke. So when I awoke one day with blurry vision , I dismissed it as an inconvenience and went on packing for our move to another state. By the time we were ready to depart, I had developed double vision which I could manage only by closing one eye when I drove the car.
Obviously, I was a pretty stubborn patient. I was not unaware of my peril. I was an RN with 20 years of experience. Nearly a month later, I found that my equilibrium was off – way off. I could not walk across the kitchen without hanging on to the furniture and the walls. My approach was to try to hide my symptoms from the people around me. My denial was complete.
I remained in denial until finally confronted by my spouse – and taken to the emergency room where my denial further compromised my treatment. I got the doctor to agree that the stroke was minor and far enough in the past that I did not need admission to the hospital; just recovery time and regular aspirin therapy. We were both wrong. Twelve hours later I was back by ambulance. My speech had become affected and my left leg was weak enough to collapse under my weight when I attempted to stand. I was impatient with the caregivers and really did not want to cooperate, but at the same time, glad to be in the hospital.
The stroke continued to evolve over the next two days until, I had no ability to move my left hand and no grasp at all with that hand. There were major problems with blood pressure medications and adverse side effects, but finally, after about another week, I was beginning to stabilize.
True to form we opted to go home rather than to a rehab facility. Given my experience as a nurse in a rehab facility, this turned out to be a good decision for me. I was acutely aware of the potential for falls, and took care not to invite one; but at home I was not limited by nurses fears, and schedule limitations which I know exist in institutional settings. My family was great. Within days I was walking a few feet and beginning to move the fingers of my left hand. Every new twitch was a victory.
It was slow, frustrating progress from moving a tissue across the table, to moving children’s blocks from box to box. A year later I’m working on crocheting, piano basics, and touch typing. These are all things I did well before the stroke. I walk with a pronounced limp, but I walk. I wasn’t sure that I would. Obviously it’s been a life changing experience, but I’m just as stubborn as ever. I have no regrets.