Friday, 26 February 2016

A stroke of bad luck

It's been a funny sort of week...

I've spent the last couple of weeks fighting off a virus that started as a cold and turned into a nauseous battle with vertigo. Never mind, I thought, I'll get better over the half-term holiday. Nope. In the hope of getting back to normality, I went shopping with The Husband, nearly passed out in a bookshop and had to come home. Then I got pains and tingling in my left arm, a numb mouth, and lost the ability to think and speak at the same time. So we went back into town, but this time it was in an ambulance with blue lights flashing and siren wailing. I had a Skype-style conversation with the on-call doctor (it being a Sunday evening, with fewer than normal staff and an overflowing A and E department). As I couldn't hear the doctor very well, I was put on the phone to him, which really didn't help. Phones and stammerers don't go together, and I had to keep explaining that part of my speech difficulty was normal and I got so that I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I was shown pictures of objects that I had to name, and it got a bit scary when I could see something that you put on your hand when it got cold, but couldn't for the life of me think of the word 'glove'. It only made me pause for a few seconds, but they were seconds in which I saw The Husband having to give up his business in order to care for a wife who couldn't do anything for herself. 

A CT scan and an arm-full of blood later, I ended up on a stroke ward with four old ladies, all of whom seemed to be called Peggy. 'I threw a few things into a bag, while the paramedics were sorting you out,' The Husband told me. He'd found me some pyjama trousers and an old t-shirt for sleeping in and several pairs of socks (and, for some reason, a packet of salt and vinegar crisps). It was pretty impressive, because he never puts the washing away, so must have had a frantic search through drawers and cupboards. Unfortunately, the t-shirt was from a concert we'd been to years ago, and so had 'Bowling for Soup - Party in your pants tour, 2009' printed in big letters on the back. Oh well. Most old ladies I know are very open-minded and up for a laugh, so I didn't wince too much every time I had to walk the length of the ward to the loos. (Sadly, I think I left the t-shirt in the bathroom when I left the hospital. I have a picture in my head of the nurses trying to work out which of the Peggys it belonged to.)

By now, it was evening. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, I was tired and tearful, and then a nurse handed me a leaflet about how to cope when you've just had a stroke. It wasn't a good moment. I was on four-hourly obs, which meant that every time I just got to sleep, someone would come and take my blood-pressure, shine a torch in my eyes and make me do all the things they have to check for, like raising my arms in the air and trying to squeeze their hands. And, boy, do old ladies snore! I thought The Husband was bad, but at least I can elbow him in the ribs. I knew it wouldn't be the done thing to poke Peggy in the side, so I laid there and tried to think about what I would write. That is the good thing about writing. You can take any crappy situation and think, 'That was a totally shitty thing to happen, I must write it up.' So, in my head, I thought the whole situation through and tried turning it into my latest OU assignment. The problem was, I couldn't follow one train of thought for long, and it's something I'm still having trouble with. You wouldn't believe how long it's taking me to type this. My mind hopped about from, 'I must remember to write about that t-shirt,' to, 'Oh bugger, I should be doing break duty at school tomorrow.' My aim this morning was to write part of my assignment, but so far, I've made coffee and forgotten it, had a Facebook conversation with The Daughter, written this, put the washing in the machine, but forgotten to turn it on, and read the same paragraph of a book about five times without remembering what happened. I hope things improve, because if they don't, it means I'm turning into my grandmother. 

Anyway, back at the ranch... It was morning in hospital and I had to have an MRI scan. I'd never had one before, but my dad had, to check his prostate cancer hadn't spread, and he'd told me all about it. Basically: it's noisy and keep your eyes shut or you'll panic about how confined it is in there. I got asked loads of questions by the MRI nurse: had I ever had an accident when metal had gone in my eyes? Did I have any metal clips inside me? No and no. So she gave me some ear-plugs, put head-phones on top of those and a cage-like contraption over my head. As I reversed into the machine, she played me Fleetwood Mac through the head-phones (it must be my age) and warned me that things were going to get noisy. I then remembered an episode of House in which he removed a bullet from someone by putting them in an MRI machine and turning it on. Shit, I thought, I haven't got any metal clips in me, have I? Surely I'd know. What if I'd had one after my appendix operation and no-one had told me? And other such irrational thoughts. Anyway, nothing came flying out of me, so that answered that question. The noise was like standing right next to a pneumatic drill - I could hear nothing of Stevie Nicks at all. Then the noise changed and it was as if Son Number Two had turned his guitar amp up to 11 and I had my ear pressed to it. My ears were still ringing three hours later. But the scan was a success - they found a brain and it had no abnormalities. An ECG later, and I was sent home. They thought it was something to do with the virus I'd had. I didn't know such a thing could happen, but The Daughter said that every time a new patient was admitted onto the mental health wards, they'd be tested for a urine infection, because the brain could be affected. We are put together very strangely. 

So now I am under house arrest, by order of The Boss Lady, who said I was not to go into work until Monday. I tried arguing, but she said she'd put bouncers on the door so I couldn't get in. Actually, I'm glad, because I'm not yet back to normal. I feel wobbly and tired and I can't spell - this has taken forever to write and I have back-spaced more than I have typed forwards. So, if I've made any mistakes in my spelling and grammar today, many apologies, but I really don't care. I'm just grateful that I'm still here to make them.  


  1. This is darkly entertaining. Hurry back, I didn't get a cup of tea until after break duty BOTH TIMES today! On the plus side, I had your slice of the sub-boss lady's cake.

    1. Bastard. I only live over the road; you could have brought me some cake!