No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition, or A Stroke.
My stroke. Wednesday 13th June 2018. A perfectly normal day. I was looking after Meg, a golden Labrador for her mum, Di, had gone on holiday with Jane. I had fed Meg, given her a walk, and then taken her to her house for the day. It was 7.45 and I had half an hour before I had to start work. Just time enough to buy food the evening meal. I was going to have Lamb with smoked aubergine and minty broad beans. I was looking forward to making a new recipe. Driving away from Tesco I suddenly had double vision which cleared after 10 minutes. Although I did not know it, my stroke had started.
I drove on to work, feeling none the worse for the double vision episode. Was I worried? Not at all, I had experienced double vision before. That I put it down to one of the known side effects of Sertraline, my anti depression medication. I drove into work and parked up and the double vision started again. Again, I waited for a few minutes and when it passed I clocked into work, 8.20 5 minutes late, BUGGER!
My Wednesday, it gets worse.
Up the stairs and into the office. “Mornings” all round. Victoria looked up and asked me if I was OK. I said something about me having one of my dizzy and double vision episodes and that it would pass, as it had in the past. Then the double vision returned and I knew that I could not stand up without falling over, this was going to be a bad day. Victoria kept looking at me, obviously a bit concerned. By this time I was as well.
I held my arms out in front of me, no weakness there, so I knew that it wasn’t a stroke and I said as much, laughing, to Victoria. However, the words did not come out properly. I stopped for a few seconds and said to Victoria, ” Is my speech slurred?” She said yes and I said I think that you had better phone the first aider. Even as I said it I knew that it was a stroke and there was nothing I could do to alter what was about to happen.
Everyone Else Looks Worried
Geoff, the first aider was with me within a couple of minutes and almost immediately said “call and ambulance”. He knew that it was a stroke and confirmed that when I asked. He stayed with me, asking all the right questions and keeping me calm. Although I already felt calm. There was nothing that I could do. Besides there were enough worried people in the office without me adding to the number. I wanted to stay calm so that I could tell the para medics exactly what I was feling. They needed to have the right information as quickly as possible. It actually did not occur to me that they probably could not understand what I was saying…..
One of the many bad things about having a stoke is that your brain works (or you think that it does) but holding a conversation can be impossible. The upshot was that I had a list of symptoms and observations in my head but could not make anyone understand. I also thought that it was all rather unfair. I had stopped smoking (with a couple of slip ups) 10 months previously. Very unfair!
At some point I realised that this was going to be a seriously bad Wednesday.
For more information about strokes visit http://stroke.org.uk
Be sure to check out how to recognise when someone is having a stroke and what tom do here.