Yep, A Stroke

Friday, less than 24 hours after his stroke.
Emory Midtown
Atlanta, GA
Stroke. What a scary word, right?

This past Thursday evening, Spencer was up late. Past 9pm. And, while I was begging her to go to bed, she asked to go say goodnight to Dadda (magical stalling tactics).  So we did.  I let her creep in his room.  He was very tired and had dozed off.  So I figured I'd let her wake him up so she could see him.

She said something, it didn't wake up him, and I remember thinking, he must be exhausted. Shortly after she did happen to wake him up.  He woke up and greeted her happily, normally. But then, the more him and I were talking, the more we both realized he was mumbling.

He managed to make it clear he wanted to come off the ventilator.  This has happened before where he's had a bit of carbon dioxide build up from the ventilator known as Hybercarbia. What have we done in the past to fix that? Take him off the ventilator.  This time, it didn't help.  We thought it did for a few minutes, I even turned his light off to say goodnight and was about to be on my way out.

Went to say goodnight again and he said something that triggered me to turn the light back on and mute the TV.   I went by his side to look in his face and see if there was more to this.

He was getting more scared as the minutes passed, as we were talking about what to do, what could be happening, trying to rule out the possible vent issue.  I remember him looking at his wheelchair ventilator trying to tell me something and he just couldn't do it. He was confused and scared.  He did say a few times, "I don't know what's going on!"  He had killer head pain... he was screaming and nearly crying because of it, pleading for help.

I asked him if he wanted me to call. He said yes.


The operator gave him a speaking test over the phone. "The early bird catches the worm." It took Jimmy four tries.

When the medics arrived, they seemed a little.... not phased.  Jimmy was talking, but was still stumbling here and there. I think they assumed... sick/paralyzed dude, on a ventilator, pretty normal sounding to them.

I had to explain he didn't have a brain injury, he was usually very quick-witted and quite frankly, a smart ass. The delays and absence of words/phrases was not normal.

Some of the normal tests given to possible stroke patients... limited with a quad.  No raising of the arms or anything of that nature. Although his smile seemed even to me.

Jimmy was talking to one of the guys getting medication notes. He asked Jimmy when his last dosage of pain meds were. Jimmy attempted to say his nurse's name who gave it to him (a veteran nurse of ours) and he couldn't say her name.

Yep. Time to go.

Off the ER Jimmy went.

I stayed home with a sleeping Spencer while his nurse on duty rode with him.

I sat on the couch in my suddenly all-too-quiet house. Tears. Fear.  This was new territory... did my husband just have a stroke? Is he gonna be okay?

I kept my phone on all night, tried to sleep a little but was looking for updates from his nurse. Thank god he was so good about answering me promptly and with details.

Jimmy was stable.

He was kept in the ER all night, waiting for an ICU to open up. One never did, so he was transferred to a different Emory campus, but not until morning.  I think the reason ICU was warranted was due to the fact that he used a ventilator.

They didn't formally diagnose him yet, but so far we had heard the term "ministroke" thrown around.

Not surprising. But then the Googling happened. So, it was hard not being there to have someone to ask my questions to once I started reading up. Ministroke clearly sounded better than stroke, especially the big scary ones.

I arranged for some help with Spencer (and thank Jesus Mary Joseph to those who saved my booty!) so I could go to the hospital to see Jimmy. He hadn't been transported yet, but I went and waited. He didn't arrive until 10:45a.  He was on a stretcher and passed the waiting room I was in. His eyes were closed. Why were his eyes closed, I had wondered. I didn't get to see him until past 11:30, once he was settled and they did their check-in requirements.

It was so dang good to see him. He sounded so much better, verbally, since the last time I saw him.

I stayed with him much of the day. He was able to make a few phone calls, holy amazing! To his mom and mine. He was able to eat and read some Facebook.

The night prior, they had done a CT scan -- results were good.

The plan going forward was to get an MRI, a more detailed view to see what else they could see. Turns out, with Jimmy's DPS (implanted diaphragmatic pacer) MRIs are not a good idea. So they ordered a repeat CT scan.

Second CT scan came back showing he did indeed have a stroke.  His doctor called me at home Saturday (I was home with a stomach bugging Spencer) to give me some info.  He had 1-2 spots where there was a blockage/clot. It was left side, where the language center was -- hence the symptoms we were seeing.

Jimmy happened to recover relatively quickly from this event.  We were lucky, considering.

Jimmy also had an echocardiogram that day.  They wanted to make sure his heart wasn't producing any clots.  The echo showed it wasn't. So, he was eligible for discharge.

Jimmy got home very late Saturday evening. He was so happy to be home and chatting it up with the EMS ladies who transported him back.

Sunday, he was up in his chair, extremely weak and I was shocked he got out of bed at all! Think the Tarheels were calling, he probably wanted to be up to watch. But GAH he felt awful and had bladder issues which made the day even more awful for him. I'm sure still a good awful, since he was at home with his girls, and ya know, alive and all.

His head was/is still a little sensitive and tender and he still needs help with some words... words and phrases he normally could get by himself.  His doctor said that should iron itself out over time, but could come back when something else is going on in the body. ie, bladder infection. Soooo, that could be uber scary.

His doc told me having a stroke does put you at higher risk of having another one. So, we'll just be over here trying not let our worry and fear show.

What caused this stroke?  For Jimmy,  two big risk factors: immobilization and diabetes.  Both from the injury.

He's okay. We're okay.  I know many wanted to know bunches about what happened and this is most of what I can remember.

Happy to have our Jimmy back home. And feeling pretty lucky.



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