Three or so weeks ago, the headache, eye pain, and neck ache began along with a droopy left eye. My first thought was stroke. But the diagnosis was Horner's Syndrome. I'd never heard of it. After that, the quest was to find the cause for the Horner's. One of my two neurologists sent me for a CT scan of the brain, neck and chest which returned a startling discovery -- bilateral dissected carotid arteries. And that was one week ago today. Critical. Cardiovascular surgeon was placed on hold pending my further assessment. "You need to return to the hospital and check yourself in immediately." The risk for stroke was high. I spent last weekend in the hospital with LoverBoy right next to me on a cot. I have determined that hospitals are not for resting and recouperating. They are noisy, busy, interruptive, repeatedly answering the same questions, and listening to crazy patients in the rooms next door. I had eight or ten doctors visit me in my room. Excellent care and nursing staff.
Let's talk about the cause for the dissection of the arteries for a minute.....I have no definitive idea why mine happened. Yoga? Gym? Weight lifting? Twisting my neck wrong? The list of possibilities is long and includes:
- Neck extension during hair-washing at a beauty parlor
- Chiropractic manipulation of the neck
- Whiplash injuries
- Blunt trauma to the neck
- Extreme neck extension during yoga
- Painting a ceiling
- Coughing, vomiting and sneezing
- Neck extension while receiving mouth-to-mouth during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
While I was in the hospital, they discovered a 70% blockage in my celiac artery. Because one thing isn't enough....right?! I was having no symptoms and had no idea it was there. They said it could have been there a very long time, possibly even from birth. But they'd like to do an ultrasound on it to measure the blood flow and track it again in six months to see if the occlusion/blockage has gotten worse or not. So I had the ultrasound yesterday. Brad, the technician, was amazing and offered me all kinds of information and medical information -- I love that stuff. BUT, since I had the test, guess what.....I now have symptoms in the very spot where the celiac artery lies. Just below the xiphoid process, which is on the center line just below your rib cage. It has hurt since I left the test yesterday. It kept me awake for about an hour in the night. Lawdy. Lawdy. Lawdy. So back to see my primary care doctor this afternoon. Surgery is the fix for the celiac artery issue. I can't wait.
I'm 50. I have already outlived several adults in my family who died in their 40s. My own father had two heart attacks just a year or so ahead of my current age. He eventually died at 62 from Lou Gehrig's Disease. Both grandfathers died in their 60s, or barely 70. No men in my immediate family have lived past 70. This crap plays heavy games in my head. I think about it. I wonder about it. I mean, I feel in some ways like I'm just getting started in my life. Happy, (was) healthy, eating nicely, enjoying things. But now I wonder. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Let's just say that I'm more than thankful for insurance. Oh yeah, and one more thing, I'm supposed to be working at a real live job somewhere in the middle of this whole mess.