Thursday, March 27, 2014


This is a reasonable example of the contradiction of what I wanted to say and what I *could* say while I was having my TIA. You know the words. You know the melody. You know what you mean. But dip ya in butter if anyone else can figure out what in hayseeds you're talking about. The first few sentences come out alright, but from my experience, it really luges quickly on the ice, in the slippery tubes to arrive to this, to which my professor and classmate present at the time, or the folks at Argo Tea, can attest:

Which was why I chuckled when the neurologist asked me, in all seriousness, if someone "slipped me something" leading up to my episode that morning. Joe Cocker at Woodstock? Um....more probable. Ma and Luke spiking me with hallucinogenics? Not quite as likely. Further head-scratching ensued when the doctor asked if I'd recently been camping out in the woods, or perhaps have been bitten by a mosquito or attached to a tick, when I live in Chicago, have stayed in Chicago, under 5 feet of snow, don't travel, wouldn't camp if you paid me and nary an insect has appeared within 10 feet of me (aside from perhaps a piss ant or two) since approximately last October. Best to be thorough, though.

The neurologist suggests cerebral vasculitis, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the vessels and channels to the brain vis-a-vis the carotid arteries, which are less involved, though the whole shebang boils down to a problem with how your blood flows to your noggin'. That's what, aside from a diagnosis of a TIA, mini-stroke, he's shooting for in his extensive range of engaged testing. Not suspects, not assumes, not proposes, not hypothesizes. To me, you coyly suggest to your best friend that she not wear orange because it totally clashes with her skin tone. (Oh God, no, I don't wear orange.) He wrote an endless list of orders and checked boxes for tests and ran out of room on the line for diagnoses. (PS, he has the penmanship of a 12-year old girl.)

Mini-strokes don't leave clots on the brain like strokey-strokes do, so he said it wouldn't have shown up on the MRI anyway. He sat on his laptop and scrolled through 100 images of my brain and generally agreed with the radiologist's conclusion that it was "stable, but inconsistent with age of patient." There are all these goofy lesions in the white matter, also inconsistent with multiple sclerosis, but accumulating and more indicative of this vasculitis issue. He knew that I'd hit my head recently. He knew that he saw a few lesions a couple of years ago. But the symptomatic description and the fact that I with my glasses off, I see double of everything in every direction, well, that's not fantastic. "And you DROVE A CAR?" Look, pal, I'm paying you out of pocket. For $150, we're not entering into a discourse of how I'm extremely bright but lack any semblance of pragmatism.

Yesterday, I went to the Resurrection outpatient lab for a mammoth 8-vial outpouring of extremely surprising free-flowing red liquid spewing from a keen phlebotomist who found a juicy arm vein, didn't have to use a butterfly needle, and left my typically crappy hand veins intact. Had I known prior that the hospital provides Aramaic translators, we could've Lent'ed it up and played it up Jesus-style, yet how discriminatory! No Sanskrit translators? (To answer your question, yes, I was inquisitively interrogated about the meaning of the large tattoo on the drawn arm.) Mindfulness, Annie! Remember that!

I scheduled the other 2 tests for tomorrow afternoon. A carotid angiogram and a cerebral angiogram. When I asked the doctor if they're like the angiograms Guy does on hearts, he said no, that these were all computerized and the only needles involved would be for the IV iodine contrast. My head was spinning and I didn't ask him what these tests entailed exactly, other than hearing him say, "I don't know, they're all computerized." OK. When I called scheduling, I was particularly specific in informing them that my head was full of metal. No, not plates. Irremovable head jewelry. No, not Iron Maiden. Stainless steel. I received no argument (for a change).

While the neurologist admittedly wants little to do with my PCP's office, he thought it was prudent of them to start me on baby aspirin last week, which is actually the treatment for mini strokes and to prevent more. With all the computerized charting, he looked at my recent lab work from the PCP and his already buggy eyes bugged out totally when he saw that my thyroid numbers were escalating at the rate they were, and while Guy said it was "sub-clinical," the neurologist's opinion was that they were loco for not having put me on Synthroid a long time ago. Sure as bologna turning green on a prisoner's jail sandwich, I've been on the drug for about 5 days, and gee, my knees aren't throbbing in the middle of the night and the jeans I bought 2 weeks ago at Old Navy? They'd been tight in the tummy and gaping out my ass, but can suddenly pulled up and down without unbuttoning them. Don't get me wrong--I've a long way to go before I'm going to be satisfied with my weight, but baby steps. 10 months of increasing fluid retention isn't going to disappear in a month.

What's quintuple odd? Ok, so last week we had Little Old Lady at the Grocery Store Who Loved My Hair. She made me feel like a million bucks. Then this Tuesday, wearily riding the Adler elevators back to class after a wake-up break, a woman getting off at another floor said, "I love your shoes. They make me happy!" They're Skechers multi-colored neon-ish running shoes. They go and don't go with anything and everything. (Versatility!) So I thanked her and told HER to have a good day.

This morning, I was smoking under the scaffolding in the windy morning mist outside Argo Tea (hi, could we have more product placement in this blog?) waiting for my large hot black (tea), and TOTALLY randomly, and mind you, I was just in my coat with no purse, with my wares in my front pockets, so I wasn't a muggers' team target, a young woman approached me. She said, "Excuse me, but I just wanted to wish you a very blessed day." Taken aback, I thanked her very much and she disappeared. Like I couldn't follow her in my line of sight down the block.

My mother's got me pegged as a minion of Satan because I'm polytheistic and think Hobby Lobby can shove their knitting needles up their crotches and dicks for supplying Viagra to men but denying women contraception and in a twisted way wishes I was WAY less educated, opinionated, and subscribed to radical conservatism if I'm to live under her roof and can't understand why Pastor Dave hasn't exorcised my demons or flat kicked my liberal ass out of the church. I'll spare you the dead-on-straight comment a friend made suggesting she become Newt Gingrich's 4th wife.

The truth of the matter is, be it angels, spirits, karma, four-leaf clovers, bulbs of garlic hanging on the door, dumb luck or my Dad, *somebody's* out there in a higher power guiding this whole ordeal, which has been extremely worrisome, stressful, exacerbating to my bipolar cycling, anxiety-producing and frightening into one of those "Jesus somehow slept on the freakin' boat during the storm while the disciples tried not to capsize sans fish, woke up, calmed the waters and said, 'Listen, yo, throw your nets on the OTHER side!' and BAM! fish are abundantly stuffing the nets."

(See, I never said I DIDN'T believe in Jesus, Jesus people.)

I told Guy I didn't deserve all of these blessings/kudos amid this turmoil (he pretty much knows I'd rather watch "Cosmos" than "Jesus of Nazareth"). He disagreed. Everyone disagrees. Probably even my professors (!) who've been very gracious. (That lynch mob committee, Christ, they better get me on a day when I'm not rapid firing, or no one will be left intact with as sharp a razor wit and tongue with which I can argue my position and case...) Oh, and Guy said my heart is perfectly flawed but not in any eminent danger, so that's good.

What's next? I've accepted what happened to my brain, suspected it anyway, and just have to put it in the hands of God-God-God. I'm nervous about these angios tomorrow and what they'll show, and how they're done, but they might be completely normal. (But realistically? I'm a chronic medical anomaly. I should donate my body to science when I die.) I might have the aforementioned disorder. If so, I'll deal. We'll all deal. I'm upright and thinking clearly, if not disorganizationally. My son is being taken care of. If Keith Richards can fall out of a coconut tree and emerge "too tough to die," I see no reason why I can't.

I have supportive friends, colleagues and a child, and a lot of work left to do, so with the blessings of the approached strangers, I'm relatively okay with the next steps.

Do watch the Joe Cocker clip. It's creepily accurate of a TIA, but my hair wasn't nearly as greasy.

Wish me luck!

And remember what Luke said before my hysterectomy, "My mom is invincible."



BMF said...

This all totally sucks. I can't believe you had a fucking stroke. But you lived through it. I'm very worried about you. And what's up with that thyroid nonsense? That's out of control. How did your tests go today?

Andrea Miklasz said...

I'll just copy what I put on FB after I got home from the hospital, which I'm sure you didn't read because you're never on FB:

Good God. The angiograms were...well....uncomfortable. My veins didn't cooperate today, but they got an IV on Stick #5, then they slid me into the CT, which, if you keep your eyes open, it looks like you're in the middle of the spin cycle of the washer. Slide out, they press a bunch of buttons injecting the contrast dye into the IV, & you get this intensely hot sensation all over your whole body and enormous pain at the injection site. Oops! My vein blew! Hi, puff up my forearm with shit & let blood stream all over! No problem! At the end, though, the techs were pleased with the images they took, results should come back Monday (I'm so sure!) and they were very sorry about the IV and the boo-boos. I'll keep ya posted.

10:45pm: My arm is still puffy at the blown IV site and hurts. I'm going to bruise up pretty badly, they said. I don't understand--yesterday's vein was lush. Today, they were all hiding. As you've said, didn't want to be poked again.

But on the upside, I lost 3 pounds!

BMF said...

Ouch! Oof!

That all sounds very, very uncomfortable. I've never had an angiogram, so I can't relate. But the blown vein had to hurt like a son of a bitch. 5 sticks is a lot to endure for an IV. Were you hydrated?

I'm glad they're so happy about the images they got, though! Hooray!

Andrea Miklasz said...

I couldn't eat for 4 hours before the test, but pounded water. I don't know why my veins were hiding again today, like they usually do. You would've tripped at the sensation of getting hot all over from the contrast dye. But when it hit the IV, oh man, I almost dropped off the table. The tech said he'd try twice to get a vein and if he couldn't, he'd get a nurse, but he ended up sticking me 5 times and insisted on asking me about all of my tattoos.

Concentrate, for fuck's sake, technician man!

BMF said...

Well, let us know what happens when you get all your results. I'll be thinking about you, as always I am, and hope you'll be ok and don't have this vasculitis. From a couple of blogs ago, I agree with Very Moon that you should apply for social security disability, though yes, I don't know how that would affect your schooling. You're legitimately disabled. How has your mental health been? I'm sorry I've been so out of touch. Busy, busy.

Andrea Miklasz said...

Interestingly, I've been more or less mentally stable through this whole thing, if not a bit on the depressive side. I'm only behind on one paper at school.

I try not to bother you with all the details and default to Guy, since he has access on the computer to all of my tests/records.

I understand, and it doesn't mean I love you any less or you love me any less. At least I hope.

I don't get to see the shrink until next Friday. :(

She should really be in the loop with all of this.