“I should really stop neglecting my blog” I thought a few days ago. Then I thought it again a couple days after that. Nothing particularly earth shaking came to mind to write about though.
Most of my time lately was finishing up my book. Exciting for me but not so much for everyone else. Entries that read “Dear internet, So I’m working on my book and my book is almost done but I’m still pretty stressed about my book and also are you aware that I’ve done a book? I have. I’ve done a book and you can buy it soon.” seemed pretty boring.
But then yesterday I woke up fairly certain I was having a stroke. If there had been room for any thoughts other than abject terror I’m sure I’d have thought: “Blog fodder! FINALLY.”
It was a little unusual when I woke up rolled over to grasp my water glass with my left hand. My brain sent directions to pick up glass, drink from glass and my left hand responded a couple seconds later, clumsy, like an inbred yokel.
I probably slept on it funny.
Pick up eyeglasses. Put on face.
My fingers fumbled for them, grasped and then spent a couple more seconds trying to jam the arms into my eye socket before getting them on the bridge of my nose. I flexed my fingers, numbly and got up to spend sometime in the bathroom practicing turning the faucet on and off. Then the left side of my mouth went numb and drooped and my thought process jumped immediately from “this is a little odd” straight to “I’M FUCKING DYING.”
I calmly headbutted the bedroom door on my way back in to make my sleeping boyfriend, David, aware of the situation. I gathered my wits and sedately let him know what was up by screaming,
” CALL 911! I’m HAVING A STROKE OR SOMETHING’S WRONG CALL 911 I’m FUCKING DYINNNNNGGGG”
If the way he jerked out of the bed and hit the wall was any indication I’d managed not to startle him too badly.
I tried to jabber out what was going on while he managed to stumble to his feet.
“I’m calling your mother.” He said and went to get my phone while I held down the fort in the bed room doing an impression of Sylvester Stallone crying.
He learns fast that one. If something is wrong call Gwen. Gwen always knows what to do.
“Go to the hospital. Go to the ER right now. Don’t wait.” My mom said through speaker phone after I’d slurred out my symptoms. We don’t go to the hospital for shit in my family so this was pretty momentous. David set about trying to call a cab while I did what seemed sensible and ran to my computer to see if our friend Jesse could take us to the ER.
If you want to scare one of your pals send him a facebook message at 8 AM on a workday that reads like so:
jesse if I ask you for an enourmous thing could you do itazzz/
- could you do it?
I became less concerned with how he would react to that message than I was with the fact that I could not accurately locate and hit the shift key on my keyboard because my left hand was swinging loose and heavy. I wanted to do something simple that I did everyday and my hands wouldn’t respond appropriately. I didn’t think I had anymore shit to loose but it turns out the realization that if something was happening to my motor control my career as a cartoonist was over gave me a fresh supply.
What if something exploded in my brain and I had to do years of physical therapy to regain even basic control of my body? What if I couldn’t type, couldn’t draw, couldn’t even talk correctly? The trifecta of my identity? What if something was going on in my body that stranded me there for long, mute years until the sweet release of death freed me?
Lord, take me now or leave me the hell alone.
I did the only thing that seemed appropriate and began wailing. I set a new record for how long one person can cry in one go as we sat outside and waited for a cab to the hospital. I flexed my hand and sniveled out on the concrete steps. I suddenly really wanted to go back to sleep. Was that good or bad?
Here is a recommendation to anyone in an ER and afraid that they are not being taken seriously by the admittance desk: Tell them you are experiencing numbness on one side of your body and they’ll put your ass in a bed tout de suite.
I was still sobbing when the nurses came in to do blood draws and EKG and blood pressure checks. I became the proud recipient of something called an 8 gauge needle, which I found out is what a hospital uses if they aren’t sure if you could nearly die and need a blood transfusion fast. If the number “8” doesn’t tip you off right away, spoiler alert: It’s a big fucking needle.
The nurses ran a gamut of tests to test for stroke. Push on my hand, raise your legs, grip my fingers. Then came a CT scan.
Nothing. Nothing at all. No blood clot, no tumors.
That’s terrifically good news obviously but I couldn’t help being slightly irritated by my body winning yet another round of what I like to call “Gotcha, Bitch!”.
the game is played thusly, I will develop a random ache or a persistent cough for a while. Just long enough to be convinced I have bone marrow cancer or Guinea Worm or something. Just long enough for me to consider medical help. Then the symptoms vanish. Or as in the case of a kidney infection in my late teens no symptoms at all, and then being suddenly, dramatically ill.
Gotcha,Bitch! It was just a random misfire! Enjoy paying off thousands of dollars 5 bones at a time into your late sixties!
I slept for about 15 hours after leaving the hospital. There was no concrete reason the doctor could find for sudden terrifying stroke like symptoms. The closes she could come was “Type of migraine.”
I called to let mom know I was okay before passing out.
I really should learn not to call her the second something disastrous happens because she had made herself sick stress-eating pudding cups by the phone for the past three hours.