So I saw my GP yesterday. My lovely, sensible, thorough GP. She agrees with me that I most likely didn't have a stroke.
[That's the short story. If you want the long story with all the details, read on...]
Yes, I will go on and have all the tests, even the horrible yukky scary and invasive ones. It is worth being sure as sure can be that I don't have something that needs dealing with. Like maybe my dodgy heart valve is getting really dodgy and needs to be replaced, or my anatomically narrow arteries are getting narrower. A stitch in time saves major life threatening illness and all that.
And it is always worth heading the signs to try and rest more and eat better and generally be as healthy as you can.
But the reality is I don't read like a person who has had a stroke, even a minor one. I had no cognitive or memory loss, I didn't lose my balance, the ability to walk, talk, lift my arms, smile, hold a pen or conversation. I remained witty and good humoured throughout the whole episode (I like to think). My ECG was normal and my blood pressure barely made it out of the normal range even after the nurse putting in the cannula hit a nerve and then did the same thing in the other arm. Any normal person would be alarmed to get triaged ahead of a girl in a wheelchair sucking on a morphine inhaler and a guy with his arm crushed by a falling steel beam just because they said I have pins and needles down my left side. You'd expect sky rocketing blood pressure from the diagnosis of stroke alone. Never mind that I don't have a family history or blood pressure problems or high cholesterol or diabetes or heart disease. And that I am not, like, old.
But of course strokes happen to all kinds of people, young and old, healthy and not, those with risk factors and those without. So maybe I did have one. If it was a mini stroke I also stand an excellent chance of getting a full blown follow up in the next week - mini strokes being kind of like dress rehearsals for the real thing - so I guess that will be a fairly definitive diagnosis.
I feel pretty confident that what I have is a series of other things that simply all smashed up together on the day to produce enough stroke like symptoms to put the risk averse public health system into stroke mode.
Firstly, I have an underlying problem with my neck resulting from an injury from grade 3 in primary school that I general manage reasonably well with massage, chiro visits and pain killers. It gives me the occasional migraine, and sometimes I get pins in needles in my right hand or the right side of my face. I also get displaced ribs from it and these give me chest pains not unlike what you would get from a heart attack because all the little muscles and ligaments across the front of the chest get stretched and very irritated. Perhaps I somehow jarred my neck in a new and exciting way resulting in a sever nerve reaction and a shift to the left side.
I also have a recurrent problem with magnesium and potassium deficiency, some quirky thing about my blood chemistry, and while I often take supplements, sometimes I sort of forget about them. I usually get reminded again when I start getting a bit of irregularity in my heart beat, leg cramps and restless leg syndrome - magnesium has a big influence over how your muscles (including your heart) work. I took a supplement on the morning of the incident precisely because I was feeling those symptoms so maybe a nerve related thing out of my neck had a much bigger impact on my muscles because they were already in crap form, or maybe I was more likely to jar my neck in new and interesting ways because my muscles weren't doing as good a job or protecting me as they should have.
Into the mix add that a medication I have taken regularly for over a year had just been withdrawn off the market and after a day's gap between I had taken the first dose of a replacement drug the day before. The drug had given me intense nausea and a generalised feeling of unwellness, so much so I had decided not to continue taking it thinking I would talk to me GP when I got back from NZ about an alternative.
And let us not forget I was even more than usually tired and stressed, trying to get us all on to an early morning flight with over excited kids demanding care and attention while I juggled a long list of must not forgets in my head.
It seems to me in this context perhaps my body just went oh fuck it, enough already. Perhaps it didn't need a blood cot to the brain to shut it down just long enough to prevent me from taking on the next thing.
And really, this was absolutely my instinctive belief when I was at the hospital and right up until about 5pm I was telling D to book tickets to NZ for the next day, the blip was over. And then the Doc came in and said they were booking me into the stroke outpatients clinic and I should know that if I fly and have a stroke no one can do anything to help you. And here were the forms for an MRI and eccocardiagram and halter heart monitor and so on and so forth and their diagnosis was that a stroke had occurred.
I will be off to the chiro tomorrow and I will be taking it easy. I will have all the tests and I will ask for help if I think I need it and I will be alert to any signs that something more is up. I have no desire, none at all, for this to happen again. But I think you can all stop worrying about me because I think I am fine. Really.