On November 4th I was at my normal Wednesday morning Jazzercise class. About halfway through the class I saw stars a little, thought to myself that that was a bit weird and backed off a little. When I got into my car after the class I realized I had an aura in my left eye (it looks a lot like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVFIcF9lyk8). I knew what it was because I had an aura in the same eye back in 2003, I was told it was a visual migraine, no other migraine history.
By the time I got home (about 10 minutes) it had traveled up and out of sight. A few minutes later I began to get a dull headache. I took some ibuprofen, smeared some essential oils on my head and continued to my Weight Watcher meeting. I then came home, took a 2 hour nap, rubbed more oils and took more ibuprofen and then headed to work. Nothing was touching the pain except my essential oils, at least that gave me temporary relief and allowed me me to go on with my day. I was beginning to feel really sorry for my friends who get really bad migraines. It wasn’t debilitating, but it was a fairly intense dull ache. This was no joke!
That evening I stopped for some migraine medicine at the drugstore, took one and went to bed. I woke up at 4 and took another one (I didn’t realize the dosing was one pill every 24 hours). When I woke up I still had the headache but life had to go on so off I went to work for a full day of nails.
Around 1 o’clock I noticed my right eye was at half mast. I couldn’t open it more if I tried either. I asked my client if she saw it too and she agreed that it wasn’t the same as the left. I texted my migraine expert BFF and asked if this was ever the case with her and she said no. I decided to finish my 1 o’clock client, cancel the rest of my day and go to the doctor at 3:30. About a half hour later the right side of my face began to get tingly and numb. You know that weird feeling when the novocaine is wearing off after a dental procedure? Yeah, that’s how it felt. It scared the you know what out of me.
I didn’t tell my client I was working on what I was experiencing. I was trying to process what was going on and what my plan of action was going to be. At this point I was fairly certain I was having a stroke. I was trying not to panic and I was waiting to see if it would all go away. I finally told her the sensation I was having and demanded she take me to the hospital right then and there. I of course insisted on finishing because I’m committed like that (or just plain stupid)!
When I arrived at Troy Beaumont they took me right away because my symptoms were quite worrisome and if I were having a stroke they needed to act fast. I had 10 doctors crowded around me, taking vitals, shining lights in my eyes, saying things I didn’t understand. I started to get really scared.
An IV was started, tests and scans ensued late into the night including a CT and an MRI (which with a bad headache and no pain medicine was absolute torture). Late that night I had been diagnosed with Carotid Artery Dissection.
Carotid Artery Dissection is a tear in the artery wall that allows blood to leak between the artery layers and separates them. As the blood collects in the area of the dissection, it forms a clot that limits blood flow through the artery. If the clot is large enough to completely block blood flow, the result can be a stroke. Equally dangerous, pieces of the clot can break off and travel up through the bloodstream to become trapped in the smaller arteries in the brain which can limit the blood flow to a region of the brain and cause a stroke. This injury usually occurs with blunt force trauma, like a seatbelt on the neck in a car accident, a fall or hitting the head. Mine was possibly exercise induced but could have just been spontaneous or genetic (which just about anything can be!). For more information on this you can visit https://goo.gl/o6dqyz
I found this image helpful if you’re a visual person like me!
After the diagnosis I was sent for an MRA for a better look at the dissection and for another CT to see if there was anything else that may have been causing my horrible headache. Unfortunately my pain management at first was dreadful and it was very frustrating. I was so thankful I had grabbed my oil again on the way out the door the morning before so I had a way to manage my pain to some degree on my own. Thank you peppermint oil for keeping me comfy!
I was told the dissection was extensive but would heal on it’s own with the help of Coumadin (a blood thinner which also prevents clots). I was also told that I didn’t need surgery and that I should plan to stay about 2-3 days while the blood thinners did their magic.
I wound up staying for 12 days because my Coumadin (INR) levels were not increasing to the numbers they needed to be (between 2-3) in order to release me. They’d go up, then back down again, then back up. It was a very frustrating, exhausting experience. Frequent visits from these munchkins really made my evenings. I like to think they were excited to see me, but the jello, cookies and ice cream I had waiting for them each visit was probably a big part of their eagerness to visit!
The only thing that really made it tolerable was my roommate Amy who had been there for over a month. We realized that we had a lot of mutual friends through our churches and my kids’ school and had many things in common. I truly believe God put us together for a reason. Every nurse and doctor that came into our room commented on how we were the “fun room” and that our room smelled so good between my essential oils and all the flowers we had scattered around the room. We even were treated to pedicures by our dear friends one day. It was more like a dorm room than a hospital room!
On day 11 I got the news that my INR level had finally reached a 2 and that if the next day it was over a 2 I could go home. The next day it was a 2.4! My family had missed me terribly and clients were sending well wishes but were obviously concerned about when I would be returning to work. My only sadness about this was leaving my new BFF Amy.
Part of my new normal was living with a persistent dull headache. I was told it was caused by the nerves in the artery being inflamed and it would possibly remain until the dissection healed itself in the next 3-6 months. Again, oils will be part of my daily regime to keep me comfortable and sane! Not sure I would have made it without this line up!
Another part of my new normal was going to be figuring out a new diet since Coumadin is very sensitive to Vitamin K and works against it. I now know more about Vitamin K than any normal person should.
Over the 12 days I made the best of it, Amy and I talked a lot and we both had Campus Passes so we could explore the entire hospital. We would go “downtown” (downstairs) to shop at the “mall” (the gift shop) and get Starbucks. It also allowed us to have dinner as a family downstairs in the cafeteria.
So many friends came to visit, sent flowers and cards. It meant so much to me and made my days go by so much easier!
Darren was even able to get permission for Snubby to come for visits! That totally made my day both times he brought him. He loved all the attention and was just as ecstatic to see me as I was to see him.
Many of you have asked if there is anything you can do. Good news! THERE IS!
There are a few ways you can help, first pray for me and my family. Pray for healing and patience. Second, there is a meal train that a PTO parent started for us. There are some dates left, you can sign up here: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/95vy3v
Thirdly, a friend set up a Go Fund Me account that will help to fund my medical expenses and also the lost wages for time off of work. Those of us in the beauty industry do not get sick days, vacation time or disability. I appreciate anything that you can donate to help offset these costs this holiday season! Click here: https://www.gofundme.com/uta4z97s
Check back soon for an update to this post… the fun didn’t end here!