December 8, 2011

A Scare

Last night, Rob and I had an all night party in the Cayuga Medical Center's emergency room ...complete with heavy drugs and a groggy cab ride home at 5:30 am.

This wild excursion was not in any of our original plans, but arose spontaneously when I suddenly became numb over the entire right side of my body--from the top of my cheek bone down through the tips of my toes--and ordered Rob to call an ambulance. I thought I was having a stroke--not an idle fear considering my mom had a stroke at a very early age--and as we waited for the EMTs to arrive I panicked. What if I'm paralyzed? What if I can never play the trumpet again? What if I fall into a coma and become a vegetable?

The ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later at which point the numbness had actually subsided somewhat. It seemed to strike in waves and I cried out in pure terror when a second surge moved through my limbs. When the numbness again began to lessen I was overtaken instead by involuntary trembles--like the worst nervous shakes I've ever had in my life. The ambulance drivers advised me that it would still be wise to go to the emergency room and get checked out, so in a couple minutes I was strapped into a stretcher and we were off. Rob hitched a ride in the front seat and I laid in the back accompanied by a young female EMT. Whoever she was, she gets 5 stars for her calm and positively reassuring manner. By the time we arrived at the hospital my shakes had subsided and I was almost breathing normally again.

I was wheeled into a little room and immediately hooked up to an EKG machine so they could be sure my symptoms weren't related to any sort of heart problem. I had wires sticking out of me all over and felt a little like I'd just been assimilated into the Borg collective. I joked to Rob "Maybe you should take some pictures of this for my blog," and then promptly vetoed that gowns are decidedly unflattering. Another nurse came and asked me a list of questions--"yeah, I've had a terrible migraine for the past 3 days...definitely the longest lasting headache of my life...Well, I was just lying in bed and all of a sudden my whole right side went numb...I could even feel it in my I'd just been to the dentist and he'd drugged my whole body." Soon after another nurse came in to take some blood and then...we waited.

Long story short: Rob sat patiently (in a horrendously uncomfortable chair I might add) beside me in the emergency room from about 11:00 pm till we finally left in a cab at 5:30. After the third hour or so they had given me a CAT scan and a shot of morphine for my head (when the numbness went away the headache returned with a vengeance), and when the doctor finally arrived hours later with my diagnosis, Rob was sagging in his miserable chair and I was falling in and out of sleep.

I'd been worried all night that nothing would show up in any of my tests and that I'd be sent home embarrassed to have made such a scene over something minor. It is an odd sensation to, on the one hand, hope that an extreme diagnosis will vindicate the terrifying reality of what I'd experienced, and on the other, hope that nothing at all is wrong and get sent home with a relatively clean bill of health. What I got was something in the middle.

All the tests came up clear--so probably no stroke--and the doctor said that the numbness was likely an extreme symptom of a particular kind of migraine--hemiplegic migraine--which in its onset actually mimics the symptoms of stroke. He said it might be wise to follow up with a neurologist and gave me a referral to a local Dr. if I want to look into it while I'm here in Ithaca.

Rob and I slept in till noon today. I still have a headache (Ugh!), and just went to the drug store for some Aleve. I hope the weird numbness doesn't return, but if it does, I'll at least have a name for it.

By the way, Rob gets 10 stars for being nothing short of my night in shining armor. I am a lucky girl!


  1. I am so glad you called me and told me all this. It would have been really shocking to have read it! Your knight in shining armor gets 10 stars from me as well. I'm so glad you have each other and I'm so glad he's there with you to help and hold you together.

  2. Rob is a keeper alright.

    Are you going to have to give up sugar?

    I am really glad that it wasn't something worse.

  3. YIKES! I'm glad you are feeling better & thankful Rob was by your side. Hopefully, this was a one-time-only occurrence.