Picking up from my September 12 post, I am going to spend some time talking about my general health. Looking back to 2010, I can see that my health was not good. I had a lot of personal and work related stress, my weight ballooned up to 230, along with that my blood pressure was as high as 170/110. My triglycerides and cholesterol were both high as well. In my personal life I was dealing with a divorce.
One beacon of light I found was on Facebook. I happened to see someone on Classmates.com from my college days that looked familiar. I am not sure what made me reach out, but I did, and an email counseling session began. My pen pal was dealing with things in her life, I was dealing with the divorce and it was a chance for both of us to console each other. We did this for several months (never met in person). I finally got up the courage to meet, so we scheduled a time, and had dinner. My divorce was settled, and needless to say, I was smitten. She is my soul-mate. We married December 30, 2010.
Fast forward to November of 2011. I knew I didn’t feel well, I thought maybe I had an inner ear infection. The vertigo was awful, uncontrollable vomiting with severe sensitivity to light. My wife called the Dr. and they called in some anti-nausea medicine. Later, while leaning over to pick up a glass of diet 7-Up I couldn’t seem to control my left arm. Another call was placed to the Dr. and we were told to go to the Emergency Room immediately. I was wheeled into the hospital (with sunglasses on) and was promptly given a CAT scan which was negative. After 2 MRI’s, the second with contrast, it was discovered that a very small area of my midbrain was damaged due to a stroke. To be exact, Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery Syndrome also known as Wallenberg Syndrome. I had Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), Nystagmus (shaking eyes), loss of coordination in my left arm and leg. Drooling out of the right side of my mouth and biting the right side of my tongue when talking or chewing. Later we learned that due to the location of the stroke, the left of the torso is impacted and right side of the head.
Incredibly after a couple of days in the hospital, medication, and physical therapy I was back at work in a week. The cause of the stroke was unclear, but suspicioned to be high blood pressure. It was occlusion to the vessel, there was no hemorrhage. I started eating better and losing weight, however, I knew something was lingering, something was still not right. I was at the age where the memory issues unfortunately could be explained as part of the aging process or a neurodegenerative disease.
After the first stoke, there were several subsequent episodes, 2 of which required hospitalization. MRI’s did not reveal any further damage, however the damage from the first stroke was still evident on the scan. During consultation with Neurologists, I continued telling them about my memory issues and cognitive issues I was experiencing like problem solving and multi-tasking. It was as though my thought processes were disjointed. I likened it to a “fog”. Think about when you wake up suddenly and it takes you a minute to acclimate, I was like this all the time. Another example would be when you are “in the zone” working on something and are interrupted and it takes a minute to recognize that there is new stimuli introduced. I could handle all of this quickly before, I could manage multiple things at once, this was me, I was very good at it. It was even noted previously in Management Training that I was strong on decision making, quick to respond to issues or problems, and was right 95% of the time when a quick decision was needed. Because of my persistence knowing that something more was going on, a Neuropsychological exam was scheduled for January of 2015. Looking back now, I know this was the point in time that everything started to change.