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  • Writer's picturesunshine876

Wow... a Stroke!!! Medication for life

In September 2021, I was on a professional high. Yes, another one. I had recently registered my side business and was going full speed ahead in getting all the processes formalized for a sale day for my business which was scheduled to take place on Black Friday of that year. As it was the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic, the process to get all the relevant permits to execute this event proved a bit challenging however I forged full speed ahead. To say that it was easy would be a gross misrepresentation of what I went through to get this event off the ground. Regardless, I was not deterred. I pushed ahead regardless with a fire of excitement in my spirit that fuelled me to keep going. Each day, I was doing my regular 9 to 5 as a Sales and Marketing Manager and during the days I would seize opportunities that allowed me to also handle what needed to be done to execute the event for my other business. During this time, I was also pursuing a law degree, and in my third year, I burned the candle at both ends and in the middle, but I was never tired. At the end of each day, I yearned for the next day to come so that I could check the items off my “to-do” list. As the go-getter that I am, I had a dream and I intended to pull out all the stops to ensure that I accomplished that dream. The big day of my event came and I took the day off from 9 to 5 and was in full operation mode for my side hustle. The event went fairly well. In the end, however, there were also the post-event procedures that required my attention and so my energy level still had to be firing on all cylinders. At the end of it all, I was thoroughly exhausted.

Fast forward to the week of Christmas when during my time of the month, all that could go wrong did. My flow was extremely heavy and I was in immense pain. I figured that having been diagnosed with fibroids about 10 years prior, it may have been the cause of the discomfort that I was feeling. I decided to go to the gynecologist to get checked out and to ultimately follow all this up with an executive profile as persons usually do in the new year. Upon doing the checks, my doctor advised me that my blood pressure was 175 over 90. This was quite shocking so she checked it again and the results were similar. She asked if I had a high blood pressure problem and I said no. As this was not normal, she advised me to slow down drastically for a couple of days and had me visit her some days after to repeat this check. That I did and the pressure was a bit higher. She was uncomfortable with sending me home without any medication and so on that Friday, February 11, she gave me a prescription which I filled at the very same time and started to take that evening. Fast forward to the morning of the day of love, February 14 which was the third day after I started taking the medication, after coming out of the shower while getting ready for work, I felt my body bending aggressively to the right and ultimately hit my head hard on the bathroom counter. I recollected myself quickly, found the incident a bit strange, and sat on the toilet for a few seconds. I realized that I was sliding off the toilet and thought that it may have been due to my body still being a bit wet from the shower. Shortly after I recollected myself, someone who lives with me came to ask a question and was extremely shocked when they looked at me, as my face at the time was twisted. I thought that it was a joke as my family is filled with practical jokers. As I was in disbelief, we did a video call to my three brothers in the family WhatsApp chat group and they confirmed the situation and the immediate assumption was that I may have suffered a stroke. We rushed to the doctor. They confirmed this early diagnosis and before rushing me to the hospital, checked my blood pressure which was now revealed to be 202 over 95. I was immediately given a pill that would start the process of reducing my blood pressure.

After being finally admitted to the hospital, it was ruled that I suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). At the time, I was 45 years old and had been healthy all my life and fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a medical emergency that occurs when blood flow to the brain is temporarily blocked or reduced. It is also known as a mini-stroke and is caused by the same underlying mechanisms as a full-blown stroke. However, in a TIA, the blockage is temporary, and the symptoms usually resolve within 24 hours. Although TIA symptoms are transient, it is a warning sign that a full-blown stroke may be imminent, and immediate medical attention is required.

Causes of Transient Ischemic Attack

The most common cause of TIA is a blood clot that forms in an artery leading to the brain. This can happen due to various reasons such as atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits build up in the blood vessels, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. Other possible causes of TIA include heart disease, a heart valve problem, irregular heartbeat, or blood disorders that cause clotting.

Symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack

The symptoms of TIA can vary depending on which part of the brain is affected. The most common symptoms include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms include sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination. These symptoms can last from a few minutes to several hours but usually resolve within 24 hours.

Diagnosis of Transient Ischemic Attack

TIAs can be challenging to diagnose as the symptoms are often temporary and may not be present during the medical evaluation. However, it is crucial to diagnose TIA correctly to prevent a full-blown stroke. The doctor will perform a physical exam and take a medical history. They may also perform imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan of the brain to rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms. Other diagnostic tests may include blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG), and an echocardiogram. My MRI showed that my TIA was on the left frontal lobe.

Treatment of Transient Ischemic Attack

The goal of TIA treatment is to prevent a full-blown stroke. Treatment may include medications to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or warfarin. Other medications may be prescribed to control high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, or irregular heartbeats. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise, can also help reduce the risk of a stroke.

Complications of Transient Ischemic Attack

Although TIAs are often temporary and resolved without complications, they are still considered medical emergencies. A TIA is a warning sign that a full-blown stroke may be imminent, and without proper treatment, the risk of a stroke is high. The complications of a full-blown stroke can be severe and may include permanent brain damage, paralysis, and even death.

Prevention of Transient Ischemic Attack

Preventing TIA involves reducing the risk factors that can cause the condition. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise, can help reduce the risk of TIA. Other preventative measures may include controlling high blood pressure, managing diabetes, and managing high cholesterol levels. People with a history of TIA or stroke may also need to take medications to prevent blood clots or manage other underlying conditions.

Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of a stroke and its potentially life-changing complications. By understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications, and prevention of TIA, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their risk and lead a healthier life.

I hasten to add a mystery. My executive profile, all my tests, and my stay in the hospital revealed no supporting evidence of the reason my blood pressure was high and hence no reason for the cause of the stroke. As I noted earlier, prior to the stroke, I was a healthy eater and a swimmer so exercised regularly. My CT scan and MRI only proved that I had the stroke however no evidence of any other irregularities.

I call this phase of my life my second life as I believe I have been given a second chance at life, so now I have two birthdays. The first is July 20 when my mother gave birth to me and the second is February 14 when I was blessed with another life. I am now 1-year post-TIA and of course on blood pressure and antistroke medications. This past year has been a bit emotional for me. I had to put my law degree on hold temporarily and also pause activities of my side hustle. For a while, I kept asking why me? I still don’t have the direct answer to that question but have concluded that my blessings overflow tremendously. I have stopped asking that question. My February 14 birthday this year was extremely emotional as when the TIA happened, I never allowed myself to feel anything. I didn’t focus on myself but instead on my family while I spent four days in the hospital getting the rest that my body apparently craved. February 14, is a day of love, and I needed to love myself more. Have I been doing this since my rebirth? Sometimes, but not consistently. So as I write this blog I make a commitment to myself to aggressively love myself more. I assure you all that there have been no lasting effects of the stroke, miraculously. I however have to be on anti-stroke and blood pressure medication for life. Small price to pay. Daily I give thanks for this blessing.

I am sharing my personal experience here to heighten stroke awareness. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in Jamaica. Though in my situation there was no symptom of this to be able to prevent it, in many others, there is. In most cases, it means lifestyle changes and consciousness to ensure that such a situation doesn't befall you. October is Stroke Awareness Month in Jamaica. I implore you all to be aware of your bodies and be proactive and not reactive. Importantly too, ensure that you have good insurance!!!

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