Suddenly Paralyzed but Grateful Part III

Stunned by the decision to release me from the hospital undiagnosed, weak and still mostly paralyzed on the right side from the waist down, we scrambled to get prepared. The hospital staff came through with a basic walker and needed supplies and we were on our own.

I’ll spare you the sordid details. Mark helped pry me in and out of bed and chairs, my sleep was still interrupted by mustle spasms, I learned to shuffle along shoving the primitive walker with wheels that didn’t swivel and bit by bit some feeling returned to my leg.

Meanwhile I was Googling mustle twitches, nerve regeneration, sudden paralysis, all the unanswered questions. The Hospitalist said the MRI showed some arthritis  in the spine, but how could that cause instant paralysis? My first thought had been that the sharp pain in my calf could have a been a clot that moved and pusuing that idea brought me to Spinal Infarction or Stroke, a rare occurance that could cause paralysis.

I took that printout when I saw my primary physician on October 11, hesitant to show it to him. Doctors must hate it when patients diagnose themselves! Just as I pulled it out of my purse, he said, “I think you’ve had a spinal cord infarction.”

I refrained from hugging him. Anyone who has had a serious malady undiagnosed will understand my relief.

Three weeks after the event, I AM WALKING! My right foot is still mostly useless, though I can lift my toes which helps when pulling socks on. Tasks which used to be effortless, like working the washing machine controls or lifting the coffee pot are difficult and I have an annoying tremor in my right hand, but I’ve ordered weights and started exercises to help with that.

My gratitude is boundless. I am recovering and even if I never get back all feeling and strength I am grateful. I imagine being born without a limb or with a severe disability. I think of a friend who years ago, scaling a fence to retrieve a soft ball for his kids, suffered a spinal cord injury that left him a paraplegic, or another friend whose right side has been paralyzed since a stroke fifteen years ago, leaving him unable to speak.

I think of the old adage, “I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”

I no longer fret because Amazon won’t publish reviews I know have been submitted; in fact I haven’t checked my sales for a month. When life-changing events happen, priorities have a way of sorting themselves out.


Suddenly Paralyzed But Grateful Part II

Three A.M. I am sitting on the floor beside the bed unable to move after trying to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. It is undeniable. My right side is paralyzed from the waist down and my right arm is weak.

My husband Mark is there immediately, trying to move my right foot, crumpled against a chest of drawers. I cry out in pain. He tries to help me move but I seem cemented to the floor. Mark gives me a pain pill and the next hours are a blur.

Ambulance, ER, CAT scan, x-rays of  chest, hip, knee. Repeatedly I am asked the same questions. Does it feel like my previous stroke? Have I fallen recently? Do I use a walker? A cane? No and no and no and no. Last week I was camping with my family at the coast.

After a few hours the ER physician gives up and sends me to be admitted to the hospital. Muscle spasms or twitches start in my right leg, making it clutch from toe to knee to toe every five to ten seconds all day and night. My primary doctor isn’t available so after a few hours I’m seen by a Hospitalist, a growing trend, it seems. She is a tiny Oriental lady who grabs my sensitive ankle, yanks my leg around grinding my arthritic knee, making me cry out.

“Are you an anxious person?” she asks. “Do you take a pill for anxiety?” No and no.

I complain of the spasms. She orders a prescription and an MRI. The medicine takes over an hour to take effect, lasts for about three hours, and can only be administered every eight hours. That leaves over six hours of constant spasms. I tell myself they are a sign of nerve regeneration, but no one tells me any such thing.

My roommate has an MRI after mine and soon sees her doctor and then a specialist. I don’t see the Hospitalist until the next afternoon. The MRI shows some arthritis of the spine. No explanation of how that could cause sudden paralysis.

The spasms make my right leg creep slowly toward the edge till my foot falls over. I learn to shove my left toes under my right ankle and pry my foot back onto the bed. With great effort, by the third morning, I can bend my right knee and twitch my big toe. Progress!

The Hospitalist comes in about 3 P.M. to say I’m released. What? I have walked once outside the room, I have no diagnosis, no treatment plan except to see my primary physician in a week, no wheelchair, no walker. Not that I’m fond of the hospital, but we have good insurance and I expected not to be virtually bedfast when I go home. Before I can call him, Mark arrives with a lovely blue orchid and my Surface computer. He has driven the pickup, so must turn around and drive home to get the car.

Once again I must quit. I make mistakes in nearly every word. Part III coming soon.


Suddenly Paralyzed But Thankful Part I

Have you had an experience, a health scare perhaps, a close call, or the loss of a loved one that brought you up short and changed your priorities or your focus? I haven’t written a blog since September. Here’s why.

I was camping with family at Coos Bay on the Oregon Coast September 26-30. My daughter from Arizona was visiting and left on October 2. We had a fine time visiting around the campfire and netting our fill of crab. Ah, the good life — a reason we moved to Oregon, to be near the ocean.

Two days later, 12:15 A.M. on October 4, everything changed. I was watching TV, leaning back in my recliner, when I felt a sharp pain in my right calf. Oh shoot! Another cramp. I was prepared to stand to work it out, but the pain immediately went away.

Soon I realized something strange was going on, but my mind wouldn’t accept what my body was feeling. I was paralyzed from the waist down on my right side. Surely my foot had just gone to sleep, I reasoned. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t move it.

I woke my husband, snoring gently in his recliner beside me. In his half-awake state he too couldn’t accept sudden paralysis. This was just some strange temporary malady. So he dragged me down the hall to bed. And I do mean DRAGGED. It felt like my right foot was glued to the floor. Amazingly, every wrench hurt my right knee which has suffered several injuries and is arthritic. And helping me into bed, he grabbed my ankle and I screamed in pain. How could I be paralyzed and at the same time so sensitive?


Because I am still weak and shaky, I’m going to continue  later