Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Oh, What a Night"

It was not quite 11:30 pm last night when I got THE CALL that every wife dreads.  "My boss is taking me to the hospital.  I've got sagging on the right side of my face."  His voice was unsteady and he sounded scared to death.  He started to explain that he didn't feel bad but....I interrupted.  "You can tell me at the hospital.  Go, get off the phone and go.  I'll meet you in  the Emergency Room." 

Oh my God!  There's only one thing that means, Stroke!   Or at least a TIA (Trans Ischemic Attack -- sort of a pre-stroke warning.)  

You know that saying "My heart jumped into my throat?"  Well, that's what it felt like.  My pulse skyrocketed, I got that immediate adrenelin rush, and my stomach got instantly tense and a bit queasy.  But I didn't panic.

I did, however, keep thinking along the lines of:  "Mikey, my hubby??  With his 163 cholesterol, and his 130/65 BP??  Stroke?  Mikey doesn't get sick!  These things just don't happen to him.  He even still has all his original teeth, for heaven's sake!"

I made a quick inventory -- dressed, shoes, sweater, purse, keys.  Nothing on the stove, nothing burning in the fireplace, nothing to turn off, grab cell phone, grab cigarettes, start car, plug in phone, back out, close the garage door.  GO!  All done by rote, while my mind was off into "what if" land. 

As I was driving (the hospital is about 10 miles from here) I debated if I should call Ratchlet now, or wait til I knew something.  She was probably already sleeping.  Debated for all of about  6 six seconds.  Call Ratchlet.  She'd never forgive me if I didn't!  Besides, she's always been able to keep me calm.  She is always rock steady in a crisis.  I don't exactly fall apart, but my voice gets shrill and demanding, and I turn into a bitch... aahh, witch... rather sarcastic and nasty old woman.  Sadly, I don't even realize it and she can usually bring back to an acceptable level of behavior.  I called.

Me:  "Hi honey,  Is T.A. home yet?  (He sometimes works late.)
She:  "Yes.  Why?  What's wrong?"
Me:   "I just got a call from Daddy and his boss is driving him to the hospital because he has some sagging on one side of his face...."
She:    "I'm on my way.  Which hospital"
Me:  Seton NW
She   "I'll meet you in the ER.  I love you.  Bye"

30 seconds tops!  That's my daughter!

I got to the ER without mishap, even found a parking spot nearby, went in and saw David (the boss).  We talked for just a moment and I agreed to call him when we knew anything.  I was allowed into the triage area, where Mikey was still talking to the triage nurse, who was doing vital signs and getting a history.

Except for his B/P, which was somewhat elevated, all of his vitals were normal.  Huh?  No fever, pulse ok, heart sounds normal, no slurred speech, alert and lucid, no pain, no discomfort, no weakness, no dizzyness, nothing unusual except
when he turned to look at me, I could see that the right side of his face was seriously sagging, he could only show expression on one side of his face.  His smile was really weird and his mouth got all wonky (another medical term) when he talked.  He said everything else felt fine.  Double huh?

 I'll spare you the excrutiating details, but suffice to say he had blood work, EKG, was hooked up to monitors (which showed dropping B/P, a good thing) and normal everything else.  The doctor was there to examine him in about 15 minutes of his walking in the door.  Rachlet arrived just in time to hear what the doctor had to say.  He said it looked like it was something called "Bell's Palsy" which is usually caused by a virus which causing swelling in the facial nerve and can cause temporary facial paralysis. It is treated with an antiviral med and steroids.  It is not at all life-threatening and takes about 10 days to clear up.  He was sending Mikey for a CAT scan to confirm the diagnosis and which he expected would show no signs of stroke.   He was a fast talker and was pretty bare bones with explanations.

Not acceptable to my darling daughter, who, I swear,  knows as much about medicine as any 2nd yr. med student and will not be satisfied until she knows everything there is to know about a medical problem affecting someone she loves.  She called T.A. and had him look up Bell's Palsy on the Internet while she was talking to him and then she repeated everything he read to us.  The upshot of which was just about what the doctor said!  But reassuring nonetheless!  During this, the nurse administered a steroid injection, which had an almost immediate positive result.  The extent of the sagging lessened a fair amount.

Great feelings of relief all around, the knot in my stomach went away and it felt like I could actually breathe again. 

By the time the doctor left the "room", the attendant was there to take Mikey for the CAT Scan.  Rachlet and I settled in to wait, sure that he would be gone a good long time.  I wanted to go outside for a cigarette, so I asked about how long she thought it would be till he was back.  She told us about 10 minutes!!  We came back at about 8 minutes and he was already back!!

Now that the crisis was pretty much over, things began to sink in.  At that point, we had been there for a bit over an hour.  He had all of his tests, most of the results, been examined, given a preliminary diagnosis, received his first dose of meds and been for a CAT scan and was back to the ER all in about and hour and 15 minutes.  Whoa!  That's never the norm in an ER experience I've ever seen!  Hospitals generally don't move that quickly.  But this one did.  Amazing.

We waited 20 minutes for the results of the Cat scan and blood work, all of which came back as guessed it,  NORMAL!   The doctor came back, confirmed the diagnosis, described the treatment in a bit more detail, told us what to look for, asked if we had any questions.  Mikey had been fretting about going to get his car and some work thing he had to do, so I asked, just be sure, if he should drive and go to work the next day.  Yep, all systems were go!  He could resume regular activity right away.  Oooo-kay.  (I think the Big Guy bribed him to say that, but I can't prove it!  lol!) 

Doctor left, Nurse came back with prescriptions, and to remove the monitoring equipment.  And that was that.  We walked out of the E. R. entrance at 1:35 a.m., just 5 minutes over 2 hours from the time I got his initial call.  I don't know about your E.R., but this one was awesome!  In and out in 2 hours.  It may just be a record! 

We all said our goodnights in the parking lot, Ratchlet drove Mikey to his car, on her way home, and I went home.  Of course, we are all relieved and grateful, but not truly surprised, like I said Mikey doesn't get sick!

But, "Oh, What a Night!"


  1. When I first began reading this..(oh..THANK you for following me...though I have NO clue where I am going at this late date!) ...I began to panic...and felt like crying. I am still not over Patrick's death...he died of a massive stroke.
    I was more relieved than I can say with the way things turned out! I've lost two husbands...and tend to hover over this one a bit.
    I'm even a little afraid to get mad at know?

    I am so glad it all turned out well...and your emergency amazing, stupendious, terrific and probably the only one in the world that can do such a thing! :)
    I'm glad you are home. I am glad Micky is alright...and I KNOW how you feel about your daughter. Mine were like that when their father had his stroke! Thank God for our daughters!

  2. I immediately thought of bell's palsy but only because my father in law had it once so I have experience.

    Glad everyone is ok and sorry there was such a scare and glad there is such a good and thorough hospital nearby!

  3. Wow, I am SO glad he is okay!! What a huge relief!

  4. I've know a couple of people who had Bell's Palsey and it so mimics stroke symptoms that it's quite scary. Glad that's all it was. I hate the calls in the middle of the night.

  5. I know you had to be scared to death!! I am so very glad that everything turned out so well!!


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