Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Heartbreaker or Stroke Me (you pick I'm tired)

I had just come off the hardest week off exercise I had ever done. Ten thousand yards in the pool, and a little over a hundred miles on my mountain bike, all in five days. I felt great. I was down twelve pounds in eight weeks. For the first time in years, I felt like I was on a mission.

Saturday morning was great. I had slept in for the first time that week. It was awesome not to be up at five A.M. I needed twenty miles and a couple hours on the bike to make my goal. I struggled through the big east loop and eased up the last two hills to my house. I needed to take my car to Darien, so he could check out my front end, so I just got under the hose, toweled off and threw some clothes on to get out the door as soon as possible. My wife and I have been shopping for a new car for her and had pretty much decided on a new Subaru Forrester. The IMBA discount made the deal really good and we just needed to see if they could get her a car with the options she wanted. I raced across town, to meet her at the dealership. We drove a car, made a deal and I was going to take LWB to the music store, to get some drum stuff for school.

I was hot, hungry and really thirsty. I was thinking I should get a Gator Aid, as I opened the car to get in. My phone rang and it was my brother Chris. Our entire gaggle of siblings was coming to town to celebrate the opening of his new restaurant downtown called "The Avenue". As we were talking my tongue began to feel like it was on Novocaine and then my lip felt funny. I told my son something was wrong and that my lip felt swollen. He thought I was having an allergic reaction, so he started looking for my inhaler. As I looked down at my console, my right arm checked out and my hand dropped the phone. My face began to droop and as I told my son to "call Momma" the words came out all garbled. Luckily Michelle had not made it out of the dealership parking lot due to traffic, and was there within seconds. When she arrived and looked in the car, I told her I was having a stroke and to call an ambulance. I can't explain it, but I just knew it was a stroke. I figured it was triggered by dehydration, but I knew it was a stroke.

The fire truck and ambulance came and I was getting really embarrassed. A couple of the Subaru guys are cyclists and all I could think about was that everyone would find out. The EMT's tested my reflexes and my concerns became focused on my son, who now looked a little frantic. They were asking him questions about what happened and I could hear him, my wife and the EMT all talking in a swirl of words and confusion. I was really afraid that when I got out of the car, I would fall down and I couldn't bear the thought of my son seeing that, so I grabbed the EMT's arm and whispered to him:

"Please, no matter what happens, don't let me fall in front of my boy."

I guess I had that intensity (that people accuse me of) because for some reason the guy looked a little scared and said:

"Okay, okay, don't worry we'll get ya."

They loaded me up into the meat wagon and started the EKG and an IV, and did some more reflex tests.

You can always tell when you are in deep shit at the emergency room, because they take you right in. They wheeled me in to an ER nurse, and with in a couple seconds a doctor appeared and ordered a CT scan. The next few hours were a blur of tests: MRI, sonograms of my carotid arteries, another MRI, of my neck and head, sonogram of my femoral arteries, and numerous visits from nurses, doctors and something called a "Hospitalist" which near as I can figure, is a man or woman that has an Indian accent so thick, they aren't aloud to do real doctoring, and to prove they are incapable, they don't really seem to be familiar with your case. They just stop by like a retail sales manager to make sure your "Stroke Experience" was all you hoped it would be. I fully expected one of them to give me a survey card. It never happened.

The first night they put some inflatable stockings on me to keep me from having another stroke, but I was pretty sure they just didn't want me walking around and asking questions any more. I also had a portable vital signs thing that I had to carry around. All this makes sleeping a real endurance sport. That's what the Xanax is for I guess, that's good stuff.

All my tests were negative, my cholesterol was 147, and all my other blood chemistry was perfect. My arteries, heart, and pulmonary system were all fine. Everyone was baffled. When my Neurologist found the stroke damage on my MRI, I was really disappointed. I was really hoping that another disc in my neck was screwed up. No suck luck.

Sunday, they did a procedure where they numb your throat, give you some happy juice and stick some echo thing down your gullet. I gotta say; of all the thrill rides I went on this weekend this one, had the highest pucker factor. It turns out that I have a heart defect called: Patent Foramen Ovale Defect. When I was born the two sides of my heart did not heal, so blood sometimes leaks into the wrong side of my heart. This allowed a small clot (that normally would have been filtered by my lungs) to get past security and go straight to my brain. The little BASTARD! then did damage in three separate areas before it went (Deity of choice) knows where. They are going to go up though my thigh and repair the defect (much like they do to install stints). That little joy ride will happen soon.

I had another CT with a dye solution (I don't recommend it) to make sure my lungs weren't showing any signs of clotting and then we waited for the neurologist to read them for a few hours. He came in to see us (on his day off) and got in my face a little, because he didn't feel like I had a realistic grasp on my situation. He sort of backed up the hearse and let me smell the roses until he was sure I would do what he told me, and then at 9:30 they let me come home.

I have some issues with my middle, ring, and pinkie finger on my right hand. They work but feel like the messages are getting delayed from my brain. My right arm works but has some delay issues as well. No one seems to notice it but me, but my speech takes a little more concentration than before. It is usually worse when I first wake up or when I am tired. The experts tell me both are normal.

Good stuff: I never lost consciousness or any memory. I didn't lose any vision. I have way more movement in my hands than most after a stroke. I can play drums a little (this was a big worry). I can hold handlebars and work shifters and brakes. I can also do a wheelie (though I will NEVER admit how I found this out).

I am determined not to take myself and my family to that dark place I went after my neck issues. I am hopeful and positive about recovery, even if it does not go the way I want it to. For now I just want to make it through my heart procedure with out complications and do what the Doc's tell me (within reason). The staff at TCH was very good to me as well as the Fire rescue guys (if anyone knows the guys in the pics please let me know who they are). The guys at the Subaru dealership could not have been better. If you know any of them, please thank them for me. I am very thankful to be alive and alert. Everything else will reveal itself in the future. My wife was an absolute rock through this whole ordeal as was my boy LWB (for calling Mom and alerting the Subaru guys). My oldest boy, future hopeful med student, diagnosed me well before the doctors. He watches "House" and "Mystery Diagnosis" and he was never worried. Smart like his Mom that one.

Thanks to all, for the love and positive thoughts. I promise I will be pissing you all off again in no time.




reverend dick said...


juancho said...

I'm totally going to stop busting your balls for like 2 or 3 days.

nicol said...

Wow. Take care, HWB.

Velosopher said...

Kudos on managing an excuse to get multiple pix of yourselt in peak condition. Proof positive.

Seriously, dude, let me know if you want prayers. We do this for lots of folk. Seems to help, overall.

Gold medal on the attitude -- hope you find the strength to keep it up, and the wisdom to forgive yourself when you can't.

Storminnorman said...

If it had to happen it was better at the Subaru dealer than on the back side of Twilight.

Get better, hope to see you guys back in the woods soon.

BIG JIM said...

Chin up and get better soon.

BIGWORM said...

That snazzy yellow cart you were piloting looks like it lacks log clearance. We're gonna need to build you a custom unit.

No shiite, my word verification is "rekinh". Fitting.

Ms. Moon said...

All right. I am lighting the candle. Be well and I mean that...Sister Moon.

Carroll said...

Before you know it, you will be blazing by me on the trails like a flash of lightening; better yet, you will be creating turbulence in the pool that will keep me from swimming. NO FINS ALLOWED! And, I forgive you for wanting to look like Chad instead of me! Your buddy, Carroll

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Thanks everyone, for the humor support and positive energy. Velo, let the prayers rip, Sister Moon, keep the candle lit. Worm we need to adjust the sag on that sucker and BJS...dude you know I have no chin! Yall send the love to my brain! I need all the healing power I can get!

Carroll said...

Love your creativity in expressing your feelings and sharing with us. I cannot help but think about you and your wonderful family. You are fortunate to have them.

Double Nought Seven said...

Wow, WB for some reason I find this very emotional, that's all I'm gonna say about that.

I am proud of the way you handled the situation and the thought of you putting your son first is inspirational.

Get better, our thoughts are with you.

RonD said...

One hell of a way to get a deal on a car. I have heard of sticker shock, but never sticker stroke.

On a serious note, get recovering. I plan on heading up that way soon. If I don't get to act like a fool with you, the trip is not complete. Remember beer has alcohol and alcohol thins blood, see the health benefits.

I will be keeping tabs on your status through the BC network, get better champ.

TallahasseeTrails said...

You'll be slinging Irish Confetti off the rooftops in no time. gws, wbzn!
Tallahassee Trails

reverend dick said...

oh shit. I just now got the Stroke Me reference- BASTARD!- I guess I have a one track mind where the music of Billy Squire is concerned.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

007, Ron D, two of the toughest BASTARDS!! on the planet. Thanks fellas. You too Gnome! I am feeling so much better and (what are the chances) named the wrong heart defect in my blog. I'll fix it after I post this comment. I want to thank everyone in the cycling community, the blog community, and all the folks on FB, that have made this so positive. I never knew there were so many good people out there in my corner.
Rev you make me laugh dude.
This much I am sure of: the bike saved my life, again. I hope to get back riding soon. I will keep you all posted, if I ever get a break from all these Doc appointments!

Anonymous said...

damn man, if that's what a deal on a Subaru costs, I'm going with a Ford.

but seriously, your PMA and toughness are freakish. Get some, go again!

Fat Lad said...

Fuck. Me. Dude. You don't do things by half do you?

I've been avoiding picking up this post from my feed reader since Sarah told me what had happened. I hate reading bad news about good people.

I'll never forget being sat outside a strange bar in the early autumnal heat eating some sort of deep fried sea food making polite small talk with John. Like a bolt from the blue came this fast talking barrel of fur and fun and this was the America I had always imagined.

Guiding a foreign Yorkshireman on your local trails is something any rider would do, but to do it with such a laugh and energy was superb indeed.

Get well soon big man I want you fighting fit the next time we hand deliver some tea

Fat Lad

Petit fleur said...

Hey Terry,

It's Mindy (from Finales/Cabos).

I haven't been by in a while (no reason) just life getting chaotic. Jesus H, I guess life's been a bit on the chaotic side for you too. I'm sorry to hear about this recent turbulence, but I know you're going to be right as rain.

I'm sending healing wishes for you're continued recovery, and will stopping by more often! :-)
xo M--