Last week I was in my parent’s living room, chatting with my mom, when I lost the ability to speak clearly. The words didn’t slur, but came out mangled. I wanted to say, “I don’t think it’s low blood sugar,” but instead said something like, “I won’t sugar. No, I think.”
It was really odd.
My mom rolled deli ham into a slice of cheese, insisting it was low blood sugar.
I felt off the whole day, but that night it really got weird. I went to write in my journal and lost the ability to write! Yes, this writer couldn’t write. My hand moved awkwardly across the page, struggling to form the words. The same as my awkward speech, my hand wouldn’t move the right way to form the words on the page. My fine motor skills went flat!
I freaked out and looked online to see if this meant anything. Everything I read was scary. Words like “stroke” and “palsy” didn’t sound good, but still thought it might be low blood sugar.
That night, I woke up by a headache on the right side of my head only. And I felt dizzy. It wasn’t excruciating, but it bothered me, and was bad enough to wake me up. I shuffled to the living room and sat in my favorite chair for awhile, hoping it’d ease up.
The headache went from dull to a bothersome ache that required medicine a few times, but I kept thinking it’d go away. After a few days, even the meds wouldn’t make it feel better. So finally, last Tuesday I woke up at 5 a.m. with my head (right side only) still achy and feeling dizzy.
I took a shower and got dressed because I felt nervous and thought maybe I should go to the ER.
Okay, okay, I KNOW! Should’ve done that right away. Note to self: Don’t wait next time!
But I didn’t go to the ER that Tuesday morning. Instead, I tried to write in my journal to see if my writing skills were still in tact (my handwriting was only affected that first day), and it was fine. My hand was able to write. Maybe it was just a tension headache.
Although, over those same few days, whenever I was working on a manuscript the page would move or jump. That dizziness wasn’t good.
Finally, at last, Tuesday evening after my family met for Taco Tuesday at a local restaurant, I told them I was going to the ER. The headache wasn’t getting better and the dizziness was a concern.
They agreed and thought I should’ve went much, much earlier.
Oh my, the on-call doc waved a pen in front of my eyes and tracked my eye movements. I couldn’t do it. The eye jumped and crossed and was basically weird. I couldn’t track his pen. It made me queasy.
He asked the nurse to put an I.V. in my arm and said he had lots of tests to order, it could be a while. By now, I should’ve been nervous, but I was just tired and wished to be home. I had a book with me (of course, I always have a book with me), but I couldn’t read it. I texted my family to let them know what was going on.
It took over five hours. The CT scan, x-rays, blood work, I.V. wasn’t bad. But the M.R.I. – was very scary! I never had one before. Honestly, by the time it was ordered, it was late in the night, so I just kept my eyes shut. I never even looked at the machine.
The room felt cold, and if a place could feel sterile, that’s how it felt. The nurse led me toward a bed that felt more like a table. She said a contrast would go through my I.V. twice within minutes of each other, feeling cool to the skin. She ran a solution through the I.V. so I could know what it’d feel like. That was nice, I thought.
With my eyes still pinched shut, I felt her lay a warm blanket over me. That was really sweet. She put a device in my hand that felt like a small rubber ball and said to squeeze it if I needed her. She wouldn’t be able to hear me during the procedure. I held it close to my chest. She also placed earplugs in my ears and headsets over my head, asking what type of music I like. Wow, this is really nice, I thought. Music? Warm blankets? It’s like a spa.
As the bed/table began to buzz and raise, the nice nurse says, “It’ll be 25 minutes.” Twenty-five minutes? I thought this was a five minute thing. Before I could protest, the bed/table moved and stopped. Machinery made loud jackhammer type noises all around me. The bed/table moved again, and although my eyes were still shut, I could tell I was being moved deeper in the machine. It wasn’t even like I had earplugs in my ears. The noise. It vibrated and pounded and jackhammered. It stopped and started again. It was terrible!
I tried to make myself calm. I prayed. I sang. I could feel the machinery all around me. I peeked open one eye. Oh my goodness! Bad move. The ceiling. Only inches from my face. But there was a light. I shut my eye again.
My body began to shiver and shake. My teeth began to chatter. I was suddenly terrified. I needed…I had to get out of there! I had to squeeze that ball, let her know to get me out. But I resisted that feeling and kept praying.
Seven minutes or so (I’m guessing) into the procedure, I hear music in my earphones. I don’t like the song, but at least it’s a distraction. Twelve minutes in, the music stops playing and I hear the nurse’s voice echo in my ears. “You’re half-way through,” she says. “Are you doing okay? You’re doing great.”
I know she can’t hear me, but I say aloud anyway, “I’m okay. Yes.”
The music comes back. This song is okay, but not one I’d listen to on the radio. But then, the nurse comes back in my ears. “In a minute I’m going to run the contrast. And three minutes after, I will run it again.”
The contrast was cold. Ice through the veins. It wasn’t that bad. Just strange. But soon after, it was over. The machine pounded, grinded, bumped and hammered away and the bed/table moved and lowered.
I made it. I lived through my first (hopefully last) M.R.I.
So an hour later, curled up on the hospital bed, clutching my phone with my eyes shut, the doctor comes in and says he was concerned. My symptoms and eye palsy made him think I had a tumor or Multiple Sclerosis or a stroke. He really thought he’d see something in the M.R.I., but it was normal. Every one of my tests were normal!
I clapped. Yes, I actually clapped. Great, I’m going home, I told him. Just take this blasted I.V. out of my arm and we’ll call it a night. Thanks for your help. Gotta go.
He says he has to check with the on-call neurologist first. They’d like me to stay and do a Lumbar Puncture: A needle in the spine that withdraws spinal fluid. What? Needle? IN SPINE?
He says, if I make an appointment with my neurologist ASAP then I can forego the tests for later. And I say, YES. OKAY. GOOD IDEA.
I got home about midnight, had a seizure (I’m epileptic) at 3:30 in the morning and was sick all the next day, but I still made an appointment with my neurologist for that same afternoon (they squeezed me in).
My neurologist is a nice woman, brilliant, really good at what she does. She gave me a complete physical, examined my test results, asked lots of questions . . . and made this diagnosis:
She says it was a migraine. Wow, that’s it. All that torture for a migraine. What about the dizziness? The eye palsy? She says migraines don’t typically have that symptom, but she still feels it’s a migraine.
This is my M.R.I. story.
But I’m grateful that it’s over. I’m grateful that it was just a migraine. Very grateful that I didn’t have that Lumbar Puncture do-hicky thingamagica. And extremely grateful that, for now, all is well.