1. What Happened and Why I've Been Quiet About It
The story is pretty simple, really, but I was legally advised to be cautious how and where I said anything, and not tell it via social media at all for that first year, and it led to the removal of over 90% of my Facebook friends (never intending to damage actual friendships, but striving to prevent innocent chatter on my page from causing any legal liability) and the creation of my public Stroke Of Grace Facebook page (Have you joined?) where I could control the content of the page and keep everyone as informed as I was permitted. I have been hesitant to share the details even without a lawsuit any longer pending. As you can imagine, that facet of the story, alone, carried its own set of emotional baggage! In a nutshell, I went to a chiropractor, here in Reno, Nevada, where my artery was severed and I had two large bleed-outs into my brain stem and cerebellum, right there on the table. If you want more specifics, below are most of the details.
I had hinted at the situation a few times before being asked to refrain from further public comment, but this is the first time since just coming home from the hospital that I have been ready to put pretty much the full story up on my blog. (Kendra, I cried when I remembered you were the first to comment when you saw the original post about my strokes, faithful-since-the-start-friend, not having a clue what was coming in your own world! Did I ever tell you I just figured out how to listen to telephone messages and had tried to return your phone call, I think the very day you stroked?)
2. Story Details
That week I had been fighting a migraine headache that Western medicine could not bring under control, especially at the base of my skull, on the LEFT (this is IMPORTANT to know) side of my neck. (While I primarily have left-sided injury to my body now, this represents RIGHT side brain damage, as the hemispheres of the brain control the opposite sides of the body, so any left side pre-stroke head/neck pain was NOT an indication of imminent right side arterial concern.) I had been to the emergency room, given medical tests and scans (showing absolutely NO sign of aneurysm nor structural concern in either my brain nor arteries), then eventually sent home because there was nothing left for the hospital to try.
When the headache continued, I decided to visit a chiropractor, since I regularly visited one in high school. I had not stepped into a chiropractic office in over twenty years (so no, a frequently asked question, I had never met this doctor before), but I had no hesitation to visit one now because I hoped alternative medicine might be able to address my pain concerns.
So I called one chiropractor (I knew and trusted) and that office didn't take my new insurance, but thrilled as I was to have any chiropractic care available to me under my new insurance plan (something that I had desired for our entire marriage and never had before), I picked up the phone and made a second call, one that was nearly to become fatal.
That sore left side, he worked on first. I was rather tense in anticipation of releasing control of my neck to another human being, so his very last words to me before beginning the procedure were, "Just relax. Trust me!" (To this day, my counselor and I continue to address the trust issues I have developed after those words!)
At some point in the process, I believe it was just before he attempted the first adjustment on the left, or perhaps it was during his multiple attempts on the right, I even recall his comment that I was quite "hypermobile." (Typically called excessively flexible or "double jointedness" - we have since learned, from multiple doctors and therapist, that one of the first things they learned was that you are never supposed to manipulate nor try to adjust a hypermobile joint!)
After several attempts, I heard and felt a large "pop" on that RIGHT side and remember immediately telling him something like, "I am SO DIZZY!" to the point where I dug my hands into the edges of that narrow little table because it felt like I was literally going to fall right off. (Interestingly, in the wake of the strokes, I have developed an extreme fear of heights, specifically of falling, that I think links back to this very moment, along with the cerebral (contain balance center of the brain) damage sustained via one of these first two, massive strokes.)
He started to leave the exam room to get something from across the hall and laughed back over his shoulder something like, "Don't fall off my table!" About that time my left leg jumped then fell. My mom, thinking I was playing around in response to his joke, lifted it back onto the table.
Before she even released my leg, one arm after the other also involuntarily convulsed into the air as I began what looked to be a grand mall seizure (we later learned the proper name for the event was a psudo-seizure, as it looked like a classic seizure but it was directly triggered by the brain bleeds and I had no seizure history and a subsequent EEG revealed a total absence of any epileptic activity) right there on the table.
The doctor rushed back into the room, grabbed my face between his hands and shouted, "Look at me!" By that time the strokes must have already been impacting my vision, for, try as I might, I could see nothing but a grey blur where his face should have been. I tried to respond, "I can't look at you," only I heard a very gurgled, slow and slurred version of my own voice trying to respond with something like, "Aaaa ccaaaa ooo aaaa ooooh." At that moment I had no idea what was happening and my emotional centers of my brain must also have taken a beating already, because I wondered at the strangeness of my own movements and voice and actually found the total lack of any control to be both curious and rather humorous. Obviously, I had no notion of what was actually transpiring!
If you would like to read more of my story, please select from Medical Expectations, Manipulation Mechanics, Goals, Legal, Reflections on Forgiveness, or My Victory Declaration. Thank you for walking a little piece of this journey with me.