This past Wednesday, I got a message from the office that I needed to call John. I pulled my phone from my pocket and saw I had a missed call from him. I keep my phone on vibrate during the day, but I usually either hear it or feel it vibrate. This time I didn't. I didn't think much about it because I knew he was supposed to be calling our insurance agent, and he was going to Birmingham for a root canal. I figured he had a question about one of those things.
When I called him back, the first thing he said was "I'm sick." I still thought maybe he woke up with a virus and wanted to know if we had anything for it. So I asked what was wrong. He said his left arm was numb and his head was killing him. I went numb. I told him I would be home as soon as I could be. I immediately called down to our secretary and told her what was going on. Within minutes, she had one of our subs at my door. I drove faster than I have ever driven in my life on the way home. I glanced down once, and the speedometer was literally at 100 mph. Once I hit Hwy 280, I don't think I went slower than 80.
When I came in, he was in his recliner and the pups were on his lap. I grabbed Bama and put him in the floor and turned to get Ali. Bama jumped back up into the chair, and when I started to pick him up again, he hunkered down. I think I must have yelled or spoken sharply to him and scared him. Plus, I flew in and I'm sure they could pick up on my fear. I got John in my vehicle and headed to East Alabama Medical Center. From the time he called me, and I had him at the ER, no more than an hour had passed.
Even though we have a small hospital in Dadeville and Russell Medical Center is closer than EAMC, I chose EAMC because my first thought was that he was having a heart attack, and they have an excellent reputation in that respect. His dad had several, so he has that family history. Then I began
thinking about his headache, so I started worrying about stroke. Again, he has a family history. Both his mom's parents had debilitating strokes that eventually led to their deaths, and a stroke is what actually led to Carl's death.
In the ER, he told the triage nurse that he had a similar episode 3-4 months earlier and had gone to the ER at the hospital where he works. The ER doc there told him that it was probably due to his blood sugar falling so quickly. No CT or MRI scans were ordered. No blood work was done. NOTHING. John never told me about this since it was "nothing" and he didn't want to worry me over "nothing". The ER doc at EAMC ordered a CT, an EKG, and blood work and decided to admit him because hey, a severe, sudden onset headache and numbness of a body part are classic symptoms of a stroke, right? Even I know that, and I am no where close to being a medical doctor. And I don't think staying at a Holiday Inn Express qualifies me as one.
After he was admitted, he was put on a heart monitor. He also had an echocardiogram, a bubble study, a carotid ultrasound, and an MRI. The MRI showed that he did, in fact, have a stroke. Not a mini stroke or TIA, but a stroke caused by an embolism. Since the previous heart studies came back normal, a transesophageal echocardiogram (TE) was ordered to see if there was an evidence of clots in his heart. The TE also came back normal.
Considering his dad's heart issues, I am really glad those studies showed nothing to be concerned about, but we still do not know where the emboli originated. (He has two spots, so there was more than one embolism.) He has an appointment with a cardiologist and will wear a monitor for 30 days. They will be looking to see if he possibly has atrial fibrillation. According to the Mayo Clinic website, some people with a fib never realize their heart is in a fib, and episodes can be chronic or they can come and go. Since the monitor he wore in the hospital didn't pick up on any abnormal activity, he either does not have a fib, or his is the come and go variety. If he does have a fib, age and diabetes are factors that can lead to stroke. John is 57 (still young, but older), and he is a diabetic. And his diabetes has not been under control for a while. (He's also seeing a new endocrinologist week after next.)
He is feeling well now, but I am still constantly asking him how he feels. Anytime he is out of my sight, I am anxious to get back. When he goes back to work Monday, it will be all I can do to not call him eleventy billion times throughout the day. I know I can't control anything, and I have to trust him to pay attention to his body.
This was an experience I hope we never have to have again.