Checking in, checking out

Times like this reveal a lot about who you are and who is with you.

Early Sunday morning, I went through a very disturbing experience.  I got up to use the bathroom, then couldn’t go back to sleep and couldn’t understand what was going on for me.  I knew that I was meant to drop my dog at the sitter’s in the morning, but couldn’t remember when or why.  I had already lost track of the fact that I was supposed to be at work at 10 a.m.   I just knew that I wanted to go back to sleep.  I did a very unprecedented thing: I drank a beer at 2 a.m.  I think I just wanted to sedate myself – if there had been some stronger sedative around, I think I would have taken it.

Around 8 a.m., I thought it might be getting close to time to take my Toni to Lori’s house, so I tried to call her – but I couldn’t remember how to make a call with my phone. I even became convinced that I was unable to speak – that I could not generate sound.  My  reaction was a mixture of numbness and growing panic as it got clear to me that something was going very wrong in me.  Around 10 a.m., a text came in from Lori asking if I was going to bring my dog over.  I finally did remember how to reply to a text message – and did it the way I always did, by voice-to-text.  But, very illogically, it did not become clear to me that I was generating speech – rather, I thought it was the phone generating the speech.

After a couple of texted exchanges with Lori, she got worried about me and called me.  When I answered her, I was totally amazed that she could hear me talk.  It didn’t take long for her to get even more worried.  “I think you’re having a stroke.” stroke 1 I thought right away that she was right – and it made sense of a lot of what I was experiencing.  The dilemma that raised was: I’ve always heard that when you are having a stroke you need to get to the hospital as soon as possible – every minute counts.  But I couldn’t just call 9-1-1, because that would require leaving Toni alone – and she is going through a very hard period of separation anxiety when I leave.  Lori and I finally arranged that she would drive in from the suburbs, pick up me and the dog, then keep the dog when I went to the hospital.  I knew that I was putting the dog ahead of my own well-being, but I couldn’t come up with a better way.  I was greatly relieved when, later, the doctor who was admitting me at the ER said that a lot of the heroic measures you see people taking to arrest a stroke were no longer relevant to me because whatever I was experiencing had been going on for several hours.

Hours later, I was being interviewed by one more doctor – who was admitting me to an inpatient unit.  I was unable to answer many of his questions – it was clear to both of us that I was very, very disoriented.  When he said “At this point we are thinking this is probably not a stroke”, it precipitated a very poignant moment.  Given that he and I both knew that something was going very wrong inside of me, looking back it feels like he and I were both close to tears as I asked, “Well then what is it?”  And he answered, “I don’t know – we’re going to try to find out.”

More to come…

One thought on “Checking in, checking out

  1. Dear Majo ~ Tonight I learned that you were in the hospital as of Sunday. My immediate concern, other than for you, of course, was whether Toni was okay. It was too late to ask a staff person here in our building if she knew anything or to have her check your apartment. I’m grateful from your message above to know that Toni is in loving hands and that you are in competent care. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if there is anything I can do to help here on the home front. ~ Cynthia


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