Pride and Fall
They say that pride comes before a fall. That proved to be exactly the case with me a couple of weeks ago.
The last half of last year seemed to have been punctuated with lots of visits to the emergency department of the Austin Hospital.
I started congratulating myself on being able to stay out of hospital for a while now. But on Saturday night two weeks ago all that pride vanished.
Sue and I had friends over for dinner that night. The company was great, the conversation funny and stimulating. The food was excellent. I knew I was eating too much but I was in such a good mood I wasn’t worried about it.
At 8:30 PM I needed a suction to remove a build-up of moisture in my lungs. I excused myself from the table and headed down the corridor to my room. When I reached the door to my room I could see the support worker preparing for the suction.
I drive my wheelchair by blowing and sipping on a straw. A normal blow of air drives the wheelchair forward. A normal sip enables me to put the chair in reverse. A soft blow turns the chair right. A soft sip and it turns left.
The wheelchair also has a latch feature. This means when I’m going forward after a blow of air the chair continues to go in that direction without me blowing for a few seconds.
When I reached the door of the bedroom, I passed out. The chair continued travelling forward because it was in latch mode. It crashed into the bed. With that I woke up, fully conscious again. The support worker performed the suction.
I returned to the table, had dessert and joined in the conversation again. I felt fine. My visitors went home. As Sue was preparing to leave, she noticed that my left eye had drooped. Concerned she called the nurse to get his opinion.
The nurse was worried that I might have had a stroke, so he suggested we call the ambulance. I knew straight away that I would be heading for emergency as a precaution, no matter what they thought.
The paramedics arrived quickly and performed a series of tests.
One of the tests was for me to repeat a sentence from the paramedic. I did the first one successfully.
The second sentence was “repeat a number to 3 decimal places”
I thought he was going to give me a number and I would have to repeat it. So I waited for the number, staring back at the paramedic. I didn’t realise he wanted me to actually repeat that sentence. No number came.
But I could can see he was concerned because I seemed to be just staring into space. Eventually I realised that all I had to do was repeat the sentence. I did that successfully.
I was then transferred to the ambulance. On the way the paramedic checked my blood pressure. He told me it was 116. I said to him that that would be 116.000. He laughed. He relaxed because he knew he had asked funny bugger on board.
I arrived at the emergency department. I was immediately given a series of tests by the doctor. I passed all of them and then the Stroke Doctor came to see me. Again a series of tests which I passed successfully. Nevertheless she wanted a CT scan to rule out any possibility of a stroke. I had the scan. I returned to the emergency department and was given the all clear. I had not had a stroke.
Back in the emergency department I immediately fell asleep. An hour later I was woken up by the new doctor who had just come on duty.
This was a situation as he understood it. I had fallen out of my wheelchair. Staff had found me unconscious on the floor.
I try to tell him what had actually happened. But he was sceptical. I could see that he thought I was in denial or just confused about what happened.
I spent the next 20 minutes trying to convince him about what had actually happened. Eventually he seemed to accept that I was lucid and on top of my game.
He left and I immediately fell asleep again. About an hour or so later I was woken up by the Patient Transport people.
They informed me that they were hesitant to take me back to VASS. I asked why. They told me that I had had a stroke. Again I tried to convince them that that was entirely untrue. Again I could see they were sceptical.
Eventually I asked them to call the nurse so she could explain what was going on. She told them that I had not had a stroke. I was perfectly healthy.My attitude left a lot to be desired but otherwise I was okay.
I arrived back at VASS. I was asked if I was okay after the stroke. Oh no, here we go again!