I had a stroke on Wednesday - here's what has changed

Posted by Dike Drummond MD

Wednesday at 3 AM I woke up flopping around on my bedroom floor.

I had to pee and was unable to stand up from the bed so I slid myself onto the floor thinking it would be easier to get up from there.

It wasn't. 

My left arm was a complete stranger to me, flopping back and forth like a broken chicken wing no matter how hard my mind tried to  make it fold underneath me so that I could push up to hands and knees and maybe stand up. Sherri rolled over in the bed, "Dike, what are you doing on the floor?" "I have to pee". She flipped on the light, took one look at me and said, "Oh my God Dike, you are having a f*cking stroke, I am calling 911."

"No I'm not, my left arm is just really clumsy" came out all garbled by my complete left facial droop. "I don't want to go to the hospital". This was massively embarrassing and I hate hospitals and being sick and being a patient. And of course this is a f*cking stroke. Now that she said it, it was bloody obvious.

The ambulance was here almost immediately, it took three burly EMT's to walk me out of the house. We have Ring camera footage at the front door of that whole scene. I was really messed up and my face and left leg were no better than that left arm. They rolled me straight to Tacoma General and slid me right into the CT Tube hands crossed over my chest, my right arm holding my left in place. 

Right MCA occlusion and evolving pontine infarct.

The neurointervention team was in house. I felt that deep needle in my right groin and a new IV in my left forearm then out cold. When I opened my eyes again they said they got the clot out. It was the size of the tip of your pinkie finger. I was already better,  could talk and had better control of my traitorous left hand.

Two days in the hospital, no sleep, headache and dopey like a really good hangover.

Follow up CT "evolving infarct no bleed or other abnormalities".

I am home now. All my left side weakness is gone. My left face has a minimal droop but only when I am asleep or at rest. My smile is congruent. I have a little balance issues but can do Tree Pose on each leg. 


Something else has changed forever though.

It is so very obvious how much I take the routine of every day life for granted when, in fact, every aspect of my normal life is a miracle. A stone cold miracle of incredible good fortune and wonder. Sleeping in my own bed, wrapped around Sherri, wiping my own butt, making, chewing and swallowing my own food, standing up and walking to the bathroom ... ALL of it is a miracle.

Because someday it will be otherwise.  All I can think of is this poem.

Otherwise ~~ Jane Kenyon
I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like in this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Everything is so simple and so miraculous. Someday it will be otherwise and it is always later than you think. Everything only exists in the here and the now and gratitude flows through it all like a gentle, warm current. 

I am eager to get back to my lightworker tasks and hold this awareness close along the way. 


What do you notice you are grateful for, having read my recent experience of a close call with a radical change in my reality??


Tags: physician wellbeing