I didn’t know what happened on that toilet at work, but I knew it wasn’t nothing.
After adding to my Migraine Log by sending myself an email with as much detail as I could recall, a wicked migraine with visual aura set in. I walked blurry-eyed into my boss’s office and described what happened, and told him I’d be going home for the day.
To his credit, he talked me into letting him drive me to the ER.
I looked around the ER and saw your standard mix of injury and illness. It seemed like a lot of people were in front of me, and I wondered how long I’d have to sit before being seen.
If you want to get to the front of the line at the ER, tell them you think you had a stroke. Triage is a thing, and evidently, Stroke is pretty high on the triage priority list.
They put me in a wheelchair and started taking vitals even as they pushed me down the hall. The nurse checking my pulse called for the doctor to come right away. I don’t recall the order of operations, but I was in a gown with a pulse oximeter on my finger in no-time. I might have had an IV. I think they drew some blood, and within minutes the Dr. arrived to check me out. Motor control. Eyeball tracking. Strength. Balance. Reflexes.
Physically, I was entirely unremarkable…story of my life.
They wheeled me into a CT scanner to see what they could see of my brain. And there I sat, waiting for a radiologist to check my CT scan. My migraine was subsiding, and I just wanted to sleep, but inevitably, just as I dozed off, an alarm would sound. After nearly dozing off three times only to be woken by something attached to me sounding an alarm, I noted that the alarm beeped when my heart rate dropped below 45 beats per minute (BPM). I asked them if they could set the alarm at 40 BPM since my resting heart rate was in the 50-55 range and my ‘dozing off’ heart rate was even lower, evidently..
I guess I wasn’t entirely unremarkable; they had never had a resting heart rate below 50 on a person who wasn’t dying. They couldn’t figure out how to adjust the alarm, so I talked them into shutting it off entirely.
I figured I wasn’t going to die because the ER nurses were ok turning off my heart rate alarm. I make terrible decisions, and I can be persuasive. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but I finally got some sleep.
The Dr. woke me up to share the radiologist evaluation of my CT scan, which, once again, was unremarkable. No visible sign of stroke, hemorrhagic, or otherwise.
So if it wasn’t a stroke, what was it?