Sunday, May 1, 2016

From 48 to 80 in 60 seconds

Well, no, I'm not 48, but the number sounded good. Actually I'm 65, but am often mistaken for someone in their 50's. My hubby is a fast walker, and I keep up with him. It's easy for us to walk a couple miles or more, as long as the ground is fairly level, because uneven ground can make my back hurt.

Last Sunday was a good day for me. My blood sugar was better. I had lots of energy. Hubby left for work about 6 pm, and since it was still light out I took my walk, down the street, up a small hill, down, across and back again, for a total of 0.79 mile in 14 minutes. I had some tenderness in my lower back but I wasn't really thinking about it. I got back to the apartment, cooked myself some dinner, washed dishes....bla bla bla all the normal stuff, computer, piddle around, things like that.

About 11:30 pm I was sitting at the computer when my eyes got blurry. I figured my eyes must be really tired so I went to bed. I need new glasses badly, so looking at the computer screen is a bit out of sorts, it just became more so. I should have thought that it was weird, but instead I got up to go to bed. I promptly walked into the wall, well, with my hip, not straight on. I thought I must be really, really tired, so I went to bed ASAP.

The next morning my alarm rang at 7, because I like to get up and let hubby in when he gets home from work. I stood up and my legs were rubber. I had to sit down and collect myself. I did get up, and made my way into the living room. My lower back was burning (my typical reaction from statins). Hubby came home and I let him in.

"What's wrong?!?!?!" was the first thing he said when he saw me. I must have looked concerned. I told him what happened and immediately he wanted to drive me to the ER, or call 911. Typical of myself, I told him, "Let me call my 24 hour nurse line first."

The nurse couldn't pin down actual stroke symptoms, but made me promise to call my doc as soon as I hung up, which I did. She wasn't in, so we did a "walk in". As soon as I told them why I was there they rushed me back for a stroke evaluation. Nothing unusual was going on with my face or arms but I had marked leg weakness. They sent me to the ER in Hartford.

Again, I was evaluated without delay. Lying on the bed in the emergency room, we discovered that I could not lift my legs more than 2 inches off the bed, and that was with great difficulty. Normally I can kick myself in the head, so to speak. So they sent me for a CAT scan of my brain.

CAT scan came back clear. I had been checked and stroke reassessed over and over. They wanted to send me to a bigger hospital in Grafton where I could have an MRI. They transported me by ambulance. Hubby was pass-out exhausted so I made him go home to sleep and come later.

The MRI (my first about a trippy test) was of my neck, not brain. I don't know what prompted the choice, but it showed extensive or severe cervical stenosis. (Watch video here) The neurologist said I am one bad fall or car accident away from permanent loss of the use of my legs. That was the bad news. The good news, there is a top surgeon at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee. So there I went. I was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday. They would have sent me home but I was a fall risk. I was still walking like a drunk, even though the strength in my legs was returning.

The morning for the surgery came....and went.....I had a slight bladder infection, which was enough to send the surgeon running to cancel. Can't have any infection when they are opening the spine. They gave me an infusion of antibiotics and were debating on sending me home with orders to return. But I had questions. What caused the "event", the blurred vision, the weakness, the staggered walk, and why was I slurring some of my words?

They sent another specialist to assess me. He ordered an MRI of my brain. A CAT scan will show a stroke, but it can't show other, smaller problems, such as a TIA, which my mom used to have.

The MRI showed some signs of normal aging, but no TIA evidence. His conclusion, since by this time I had continued to improve, was that it was medication.

"Have you started any new medications?" he asked.

"Yes, my doctor started me on Januvia two weeks ago and Liptor three days before everything happened on Sunday, but I told my doc I had problems with statins, so she said take half a tablet, which was only 5 mg."

He scrunched his face. "Two new medicines at once. We can't tell which one is the problem. Stop them both."

In the meantime I asked more questions about cervical stenosis. I learned that this is not something that can be treated with medicine. It cannot be corrected with exercise. It gets worse, and in time, the damage to the nerves can become permanent. Note...I have significant stenosis. Maybe that explains the numbness in my left toes, and why I get leg cramps so easily. The pressure on the spine causes reflexes to be exaggerated. That was evident to the doctors when they checked me. I kick like a mule with the reflex test. They said that exaggeration shows how stressed my spine is right now.

Finally, on Saturday I got to come home. At least I was walking normally and talking without the slur. I'm on Cipro with orders for a urine culture at the clinic here in Hartford. If all is clear then I go back to Milwaukee for surgery on Thursday.

All this mess is rough on hubby. He just started a new job not even a month ago and he is now needing to take days off. He worries about leaving me alone. My daughter's plans to move here are bumped up. She is looking for not only a transfer but also a leave of absence to help care for me. I won't be able to drive for at least 6 weeks. I will need physical therapy and follow-up appointments. I will probably be fine, but since I won't be able to use my arms a lot, or reach certain ways, or turn certain ways, or vacuum or sweep, all the chores are going to fall onto someone else. I will need to walk. Hubby would feel better if daughter were here to walk with me. There are a million reasons.

When I was in the hospital I told the physical therapist that before this happened I could walk just as fast as anyone. I felt like I was 48 one day and 80 the next.


A :-) said...

Holy Crap, Candy. I'm so sorry to read this - It wasn't clear on FB what was going on, and I just got to see this now. I hope everything will go smoothly for you this week and that the surgery will be very successful.

candy said...

Thanks! My daughter in California is moving here as soon as she can get some paperwork done and tie up some loose ends. My hubby is a little overwhelmed with working 12 hours and worrying over me. I really need someone here to help. My other daughter in Indiana will be on vacation next week so she will be here for a short time.