emergency room

My Ischemic Stroke

Note to reader: Rachel’s blogs are written and edited through accessibility features like dictation and voice-over methods using Apple devices and Microsoft Word. You may encounter text errors throughout her learning process.

You know how the commercials for the brilliantly named (sarcasm) medications warn you of all the side effects? Take this for your skin, but it may cause suicidal thoughts. Take that for your chronic runny nose, but it may cause heart disease and death. Unfortunately, there were no such warnings available as the world was herded through make-shift medical facilities in malls, community centers, and mobile trailers to get the COVID vaccine.

Immediately after my first COVID vaccine I had a pre-scheduled, standard colonoscopy, which required an I.V. This procedure resulted in a clot and my arm at the point of the I.V. In June of 2021 I had a stroke. This happened 4 days after my second COVID vaccine. After months of appointments with doctors in various specialties, including a vascular surgeon, cardiologist, and neurologist, it was never determined why I had the clot in my arm and why I had the clot in my brain. The anesthesiologist from my colonoscopy procedure was baffled by the resulting clot in my arm. He’d never experienced this with the patient.

Because of the excruciating pain that developed and my arm due to the clot, I went to the emergency room for help. I’m not one to rush to the doctor when something is wrong, and that will be clearer to you as I explain my experiences for the 2 years following my stroke to present day. That the emergency room I was advised to put a heating pad on my arm and take Advil, and it was suggested that I see a vascular surgeon for a follow up. Then at my follow-up visit at the vascular surgeon I received a sonogram on my arm. It was determined that my clot was not an A deep vein, meaning there was no chance that the clot could make its way to my heart. I received the same prescription of placing the heating pad on my arm and taking Advil to relieve the pain. End time the clot would break down on its own, however it would never completely disappear.

At this time, I was a yoga fanatic. For me fanatic just means I did it every day. There are not a lot of things that I do every day thought of pure determination, but yoga was one that I picked up and continued because it made me feel so good when the hour was over each day. As a side note, yoga was probably the best treatment for a lifetime of chronic back pain. Anyway, with the clot in my arm it made it more difficult to hold some of the poses and do arm strengthening exercises. It was painful, aggravating, and with no determine cause, very frustrating. Honestly, I don’t remember how long the pain lasted and if that ever fully went away before I got my second COVID vaccine.

On June 4th, 2021, I walked out of my front door with my beautiful Weimaraner dog named bottom to take her on a quick potty break. I was always aware that I talked to myself, just like everyone does, but had no idea that that habit would save me. As autumn and I crossed the small street into an open grassy area across from my house, I was whispering some self-talk, most likely working through some job-related thoughts. As soon as we reached the curb, and I stepped up in the grass I thought that was passing through my mind was very different then the words that came out of my mouth. In an instant I was able to recognize that’s something was very wrong. The feeling of panic that washed through my chest I stop in my tracks. I attempted to speak, unsure today what I was attempting to say. However, when is clear to me today is that what I was thinking was not the same thing that I was saying. I have briskly walked back to the house, and I just realized I don’t know if autumn ever even got the chance to go potty. While I was walking up the stairs of the foyer my partner was walking towards me up the opposites stairs to meet me on the landing. Eyes slowly and as articulately as I possibly could said to him “I can’t talk.“ He looked at me with concern and confusion. He asked that I’d go upstairs and talk to my son and in the meantime, he prepared to take me to the hospital.

In the kitchen I said the same thing to my son. I picked up a piece of paper and tried to read the words on it. When I was looking at the words, I knew what they said and I knew what they meant, but I could not pronounce them. I felt like I needed to call my sister who lived close to me. So, I called her and tried to explain what was happening, but like my partner she was concerned and confused. And realizing that there wasn’t anything she could do to help me we got off the phone. My son who is typically a less than assertive human being commanded that I go to the hospital. I walked toward my partner ‘s office, and again he was approaching me. I had that same piece of paper and attempted to read the words and he quickly ascertained that I could not pronounce what I was saying. We immediately turned towards the door and left for the hospital.

The Stroke

On the way to the hospital, which is only 15 minutes from our home, I kept trying to speak because I was trying to make sure something really was wrong. I didn’t want to waste everybody’s time if I was just experiencing some glitch. It’s amazing how hesitant some people can be to seek medical help when we only get this one body in our lives. Sometimes I think we are more responsive to car malfunctions than our own body malfunctions. My partner quickly suggested that I stop talking. Him and I have an inside joke about how sometimes we just don’t want to talk, and we say, “don’t talk to me.“ This was not one of those times.

As far as I could tell I was not experiencing any other symptoms besides my speech. So, when we arrived at the hospital, I was able to walk to the emergency room entrance from our parking space. As we approached the front desk of the emergency room I’ve sat in the chair beside it, well my partner informed them that I was having problems speaking. They immediately took me back to what appeared to be a triage type room. There I laid down on a bed and the doctors and nurses hooked me up to lots of wires end machines during my understanding is that meanwhile my partner was filling out all my paperwork. There was an extreme sense of calm and peace that surrounded me while I laid there. That feeling was so embracing that I’m always inclined to share about it.

The head emergency room doctor came to talk to me as I was being wheeled out of the triage room Toward, as I recall, clear hallway that would lead me to where they were going to perform an MRI. The doctor introduced himself and asked me several questions. Through our brief conversation, as much as the conversation as I was physically able to have, the doctor guesstimated that I had a minor stroke. He explained treatments that I may need should it be more serious. However, he said he didn’t think that I was going to require a clot Buster because my speech wasn’t terribly affected from his perspective.

I received the MRI from which it was determined I was still having a stroke. I was wheeled quickly into an emergency room suite where several nurses and doctors entered the room and continued to care for me. The emergency room lead doctor provided us with the results of the test and at this time at TV was wheeled into the room. On the TV, I was introduced to a stroke specialist at Georgetown hospital. The specialist provided guidance to the medical professionals in the room for several tests they could perform to identify what was being affected by my stroke.

What I remember is the Georgetown specialist on the TV asked the gentleman ‘s nurse to the left of me to hold his fingers in my left peripheral. He then asked me how many fingers he was solely that to which I replied I can’t tell. I proceeded to say if you were to hold the fingers a little more forward, I could see them. You see, I was blaming my inability to see his fingers on the nurse, not my stroke. This test let the Georgetown specialist to strongly recommend did I receive the clot buster. You indicated that it was urgent, but I make the decision, for the longer we waited the more damage to my brain would occur.

It’s fascinating to me that a patient in the middle have a stroke this expected to make a decision that could save or end her life. I am eternally grateful that were they glance and a nod my boyfriend and I communicated to each other, or more so he communicated to me can that yes, I should receive the clot buster. The reason why the decision was so difficult is that 8% I’ve patients that received the clot Buster get a brain bleed. Although I was having a stroke, I was fortunate enough to be keenly aware that at that very moment my life was in danger.

Once the decision was made the Georgetown specialist, TV stand and all, exited the room at the hands of the male nurse with fingers I couldn’t see during the test. The medical professionals in their room immediately began prepping to administer the clot Buster this appeared to be a formula that was injected into my IV. One individual began journaling they experience well another supported him, and a 3rd wheeled and supply and position them to my left and my right. They watched the clock an indicated the time frequently in their journal. Then all at once, literally on the count of 3 and I the clot Buster was injected into my Ivy.


Over the course of the next hour, exactly 60 minutes, the nurse, who I will call the journalist, made conversation with me. The journalist asked about my children, my dogs, my job, etc. I’ve never been one to shy away from conversation, so I was quite enlightened and enjoyed talking even with the challenges of forming the words. I remember being frustrated let my mouth wasn’t working because my brain felt fine. I remember letting out exhaustive breath and then I would reach a word that would not come out right, if at all. At the point where are the journalist asked me what kind of dog I had I tried to reply with “Weimaraner”. I think the only syllable I got correct was “why.” It was at that moment that the journalists encouraged me by saying that most likely by the end of the hour I would be able to say Weimaraner. I don’t recall the journalists ever looking up from that piece of paper other than to look at the clock. I would be remiss not say but the medical professionals in the emergency room of Ruston hospital were amazing, perfect, comforting, encouraging, knowledgeable, swift and changed my life. As suspected as we neared the end of the hour I was asked once again what the breed of my dog is, and I responded with a resounding “Weimaraner.”


That evening I was required to stay in the intensive care unit as a precaution Even though I was out of the woods for the brain bleed which usually happens in that first hour after the clot Buster is administered. IN ICU I was visited by a speech therapist hello walked me through several tests to gauge how well my speech had recovered. Fortunately, I’d nearly recovered fully in my pronunciation capabilities. What I noticed was an inability to think of words. This post stroke symptom has stayed with me to present day. Since this inability to recall words is something that all people experience it’s been difficult 2 gauge to what extent I was affected. Additionally, neurological vision impairment being my primary post stroke symptom resulting in chronic head pain my word recall issue has taken a back seat.

My children visited me in ICU. I felt sad for the worry I saw on their faces. I can only imagine how they played out the scenarios of what could be wow I was receiving the care I needed stop the stroke. Once they saw that I was smiling, I looked the same, and I could speak, however slowly and with errors, they were satisfied and left with the intention of spending time together.

I called my mom from ICU. There’s I didn’t want her to worry so I briefly explained to her what happened and put on an encouraging and happy smile behind my voice. While I was on the phone a nurse in ICU approached my door to check on me. At the sound of my voice and the smile on my face I heard him say you don’t belong in here. I don’t know why, but that phrase has stuck with me. Very much belonged in there. You see, there is an innate element in my personality that drives me to find the good, the gratitude, the serenity, the humor, and the life and even the most challenging and darkest moments. It seems that this element misguides others away from my true feelings, fears, anxiety, pain, and discomfort. Is this a conscious decision I make to protect others or to protect myself?

My Hospital Stay

The following day I was taken to the room that I would spend the next 4 days. Nurses and doctors came in and out performing tests, taking blood, and escorting me to brain x-rays, heart x-rays, and vain x-rays. I made it a top priority to provide my nurses with enjoyable conversation and require low maintenance care. After all, there were other people that needed them more than I did—or, so I thought based on the information I had at the time and the symptoms I couldn’t understand where happening to me.

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