The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

Did You Say “Wonky”?

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Woke up Thursday morning with every intention of going to St. Catharines on a couple of errands. Nat received a recall notice for a battery charger that we could return via Purolator and eventually receive a new one, then we would head over to Bonnie’s to pick up a record album that Beth wanted converted, plus while in town I would drop off Thamazine’s canvass needlepoint project she wanted cut out. The whole agenda was blown out the window as soon as I woke up and tried to walk.

I had gone to bed earlier than usual Wednesday evening and felt like I’d had a good sleep. Although I was tired and my mind was spinning a bit (nothing unusual for me) I woke up feeling pretty good until I put my left foot on the floor. Suddenly I lost my balance, became a bit wonky and had to hang onto the dresser and foot board while getting my clothes from the closet and heading for the bathroom to get dressed. I was also having trouble trying to co-ordinate my curling iron with my hair strands that were waiting to be heated up and turned into bouncy curls. I kept thinking maybe I had slept on one side all night and my body was a bit stiff and needed to be woken up. Somehow I managed to turn my thin mop of hair into a half decent coif and I was ready for the day, except for trying to get my left leg into my pants. Again, still thinking I needed to wake up a bit.

As I walked towards the kitchen to pick up my morning regimen of pills and a drink, I was still a bit wobbly. This was now getting a big weird, and as I grabbed the banister I mentioned to Nat what was happening. He asked if my left arm was also affected and once I replied “Yes”, he immediately said I had to go to the doctors. Nah, I was going to shake this thing off and I’d be alright. He kept insisting something was going on, that these were signs of a possible small stroke. Again with the “Nah”, I’d be alright, I took my pills, but by then he was now getting ready to take me down to Douglas Memorial Hospital for a check. Now being a bit worried myself I grabbed my coat and away we went. Mike, our landscaper had now shown up so we explained that he would be on his own for the day.

Once we arrived at Douglas Memorial we were immediately told we should have called the ambulance to take us to Niagara Falls General which was the stroke centre for the region (with St. Catharines General Hospital being for heart attack victims). We had no idea as Douglas Memorial was now marked as an “urgent” care centre which, to us, a possible stroke meant urgent care. Apparently “urgent” in their vocabulary means “cuts, bruises, broken bones”, etc. Go figure!! The Doctor and nurse still attended to me but said they had called the ambulance guys to have me transported to the hospital in Niagara Falls.

Long story short, I had a nice ride into Niagara Falls, accompanied by a nurse from Douglas Memorial and was eventually checked into Emergency at Niagara Falls General. I was poked (blood taken), prodded (electrodes for the heart), had an ECG, along with a Cat Scan of the head before eventually being seen by Dr. Chew (a renowned Stroke specialist). Nat and I were both extremely exacerbated and tired by the time the Doc came in. We began our day by going to Douglas Memorial at 9:10 am and it was getting close to 5:00 pm by the time Dr. Chew eventually got around to me. We were told it had been a very busy day with a lot of stroke victims and not enough staff. At one point I had to urge Nat to at least head over to Tim Hortons (who had an outlet in the hospital) to at least grab some coffee and donuts for something to eat. We had both missed lunch and were starving at this point.

We had to answer the same questions each time someone new entered the room and by the time Dr. Chew’s Nurse Practitioner came in the questions were the same but more of them. Her first question, naturally, was how this happened and how I felt. The only way I could describe my getting out of bed was that I felt “wonky” and had lost my balance. She then turned to me and said “Did you say ‘wonky’?. “Yes, I did”, was my reply. I explained that was the only word I could think of to describe how I felt that morning. I shook my shoulders and upper body back and forth and up and down to describe what “wonky” meant to me. Giving a bit of a smirky smile,  she then checked me for my reflexes, including my smile, peering into my eyes, banging on my knees, running a stick up and down the bottoms of my feet (which drove me mad, as I hat that feeling) and watching me try to walk up and down the hallway. After another half hour of waiting Dr. Chew finally entered the room, did the exact same tests, turned to his Nurse Practitioner and gave a bit of a shrug while looking at her. It seemed as if I had had a mini stroke but he seemed to be unsure as to what exactly caused it. The Doc then said to see him at his office and he would give me an ultra sound on my neck. The Nurse Practitioner confirmed to me what the Doc had determined and said she would have the office call with the appointment for next week, while handing me a prescription for Plavix to take with the aspirin I’m already taking.

With that, I was up and dressed and outta there as quick as I could go, so Nat and I could hurry home for some supper. I seemed to be more worried about my stomach than I was my leg or arms. I kept telling myself this would all go away, but according to my research online, I’m very wrong. It seems I could possibly have another stroke within a month or even a year. The only way to prevent another occurrence is to take whatever medications I’m told, continue my exercising and to eat well (all of which I’m doing, so go figure!!)

I have to admit that this mini stroke has certainly shaken any confidence I’ve had in my body and how I’ve been feeling so great lately. I’ve lost 8 pounds by diet and exercising regularly. My energy level had increased up until Thursday morning and I was beginning to feel damn good about life. Suddenly I get knocked back a peg or too as a reminder not to get too cocky about life along, with a huge ego check. This whole experience has certainly been humbling and feels like I have to retrain my body how to work again. I’ve lost a bit of my good handwriting (which I’ve won awards for) as my hand is a bit shaky and unsteady, and my left leg reminds me not to get too far ahead of anyone as it doesn’t necessarily follow the right leg as quickly as it use to. I’ve been re-assured by more online research that these symptoms should ease up or go away very shortly. I’m grateful that it was only a mini stroke and that my body is good as it can be so I’ll continue on with the exercise to strengthen my leg, along with a bit of weights for strength to my left arm. My ego, however, will always remain humble now as the good Lord has reminded me that if you get too cocky and self-assured there’s always something out there to remind you you’re not infallible.

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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