…or at least I seriously thought so. It is impossible to understand how earth-shattering a few seconds and a handful of words can be if you haven’t experienced it yourself.
I had an episode during a yoga class where I may have lost consciousness and lost all feeling and control in my left arm. I’ve never been as disoriented as I was then, looking down at a limb connected to my body but unable to control it.
As I drove home I become more disturbed about what happened. Not enough to go to the hospital, of course, but shaken nonetheless. I told my husband what happened and he insisted I go to the doctor. I said I would in the morning. And I did.
I did what any “I’m too busy to deal with health issues” woman would do. I contacted a doctor through a tele-doc service. I HIGHLY recommend using these services (my was through the UW). They are very helpful and keep you from having to drive to an office with other sick folk. HOWEVER, there are only certain things they can diagnose over video.
In setting up the video you must describe why you’re contacting the doctor. I wrote up my story and off-handedly said, “I suppose it could have been a mini stroke.” I was trying to be adult but I didn’t really believe that…or didn’t want to.
The nurse practitioner joined the video chat. She looked serious. I didn’t like that look. Not one bit. Then she said it. She said, “I agree with what you wrote. You may have had a mini stroke (a.k.a. TIA). You need to go to the emergency room right now.”
My whole world changed in a matter of seconds. I went from “that was weird” to “am I going to die?” I got my wallet, grabbed my car keys and drove myself to the emergency room. I do NOT recommend this to anyone. I should have taken a Lyft. As I drove I wondered if I’d ever see my house again. I wondered if I’d see my husband or my dog or my parents or my friends or my clients or, or, or… I know this sounds dramatic but you didn’t see that nurse’s face.
During the drive I called my step-mom (hands-free, of course) to tell her what was going on. I felt like someone needed to know. As she asked questions and I tried to answer, a huge rush of energy bloomed across my back and down the back of my arms. I didn’t know if I was having another episode or if I was just freaking out. I kept thinking, “I should pull over.” And then I’d think, “Yeah, what then? Just get to the damn hospital. You can do it.”
I got off the phone as fast as I could because I thought I might pass out if I kept talking. Talking about it made it even more real and I felt bad that I was worrying my step-mom.
I made it to the Emergency department without incident. My concerns about the seriousness of the situation skyrocketed as I finished telling the admitting attendant why I was there. He told me to take a seat and someone would be with me immediately. I’ve been to emergency rooms before. Unless you’re bleeding profusely from a gunshot or a limb is hanging on by only a tendon you do not get seen “immediately.”
True to their word, my butt had barely had time to hit the seat in the waiting room then my name was called. All I could think was “Fuck me. This is bad.” They had me in a gown and covered in stickers (for all the monitoring) in less than 3 minutes. The machines started beeping and humming. They left me a lone for a hot minute so I grabbed my phone and texted my husband. LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO! is what I wanted to text but instead I just took a picture (was it the last one I’d send?) and sent it with a note to say I was at the doctor and I’d keep him posted. I also texted a couple friends. I let them know where I was and asked them to take care of my dog in case they didn’t hear from me again.
As I write this I realize how dramatic this all seems now. At the time I fully believed I was in serious trouble.
And then like that, it was over. The doctor came in, asked a few questions, did a few neurological tests and pronounced me fine. I learned TIA (mini strokes) symptoms typically last many minutes, like 30 minutes to an hour, not seconds as happened with me. Given all of my other vitals they declared me healthy. Their working theory is dehydration and/or a pinched nerve. They even gave me the all clear to return to yoga.
I am still unsettled by all this. As I type tears are welling up in my eyes. I love my life and I love all the people in it. I am not ready to leave yet. And yet…how quickly our wants and desires do not make a damn bit of difference.
The moral of this story? What if you lived every day like it was your last?
I know, so cliché, but that was me yesterday for about two hours. I truly believed I might not see my husband again, play with my dog again, see my family again, hang out with my friends again, coach my fabulous clients again, partner with my leadership tribe again, and so much more.
Don’t play small – give it everything you’ve got. Don’t put off saying “I love you’ – tackle your loved ones with gusto. Be weird. Call you mom and dad. Play with your dog. You’ve got one life. Live it like you give a damn.