Friday, 8 July 2016

My stroke

17 April 2016 - Stroke day

As mentioned I am a keen runner and I had entered in a 10k event around Ickworth Park.  I was a nice day with plenty of sunshine although there had been loads of rain in the days leading up to the race.  I wanted to finish in under an hour as this seemed an achievable target.  The run was tough and very muddy.  I managed to fall over in the mud in a particularly slippery section.  It was not pleasant!!  The last 400m of the race was uphill and i knew I was close to the 60 minute target.  I thought it would be a good idea to run as fast as I could to get under the target.  I managed a time of 59:57 so i made my target with 3 seconds to spare.  I finished 231 out of 637 runners which was a lot better than i thought I would do.

This is me crossing the finishing line.  You can see how muddy it was from my legs!!  Although shattered at this point I was feeling okay and drove home as normal.

When I got home I was the only person in the house, after about 10 minutes (45 minutes after the race) I felt funny and then could not see anything.  It didn't go black but everything was blurred an I could not make out anything at all.  I sat down in at the kitchen table and was quite worried but after a couple of minutes my vision returned and all I could see was some blurred vision to my left.  I have had migraines in the past and I do suffer with visual problems with them.  I put the whole thing down to a very fast onset of a migraine.  When my wife (Stephanie) returned home I said nothing to her about the migraine as she tends to worry unnecessarily about health issues (she would have been right to worry on his occasion)

I promised myself that i wouldn't indulge in "what ifs" and "if only" but this will be the only occasion I will.  Many people will know that FAST is a key message for identifying stroke in others (F - Face, A - Arms, S - Speech and T - Time).  What this doesn't include is E - Eyesight. It really should be FEAST.  If only I had known that sudden vision problems / loss of eyesight was a symptom of stroke then I would have dialled 999.  The result of this would be quicker treatment and potentially a better outcome.  But I didn't so the stroke caused me a number of issues some of which could be permanent. 

Enough of the what ifs

After eating lunch and resting in the lounge I decided that the blurred vision had lasted too long and found that I couldn't see to my left.  I mentioned this to Stephanie and we phoned NHS Direct who arranged an appointment after 6pm.  We went to see the doctor and after a couple of questions referred me to the Emergency Department.  This was almost 7 hours after my stroke and much too late for any thrombolysis.  After a very short wait I underwent a number of tests including a CT scan and this didn't show anything although they said that sometimes dependent on where the stroke is this may happen.  I was sent home with an appointment for an MRI the next day.  

We were told that the MRI would show if there was a stroke and recall asking what if it didn't show a stroke.  The message was that there was something causing the blindness and this would require further investigation and they could not rule out a tumour or other growths.

The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur and I don't remember too much.  We had told the children (when in A&E) that I might have had a stroke, so when we got home we Facetimed them just to show them I was okay.  Bethany was quite upset and this was quite tough to face.  Ben did not show he was upset (he is a cool dude) although he was shocked at the news.  We made light of the situation with the children although I cannot recall being more scared and worried.  

I think we both had a terrible nights sleep and we shed tears as whatever was happening was not a good thing.  I didn't know if I was going to wake up the next morning and believe me that makes you stay awake as long as possible.

Here endeth day 1 of my stroke life.  Words to summarize are: scared, confused but thankful for being alive.

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