Yesterday on July 11, 2016 at 32 years old I had a stroke.
I still can’t believe it. Honestly, it kind of seems surreal – like maybe I dreamed it or made it up. It’s 5am the following day and I’m in the hospital. Among the nurses coming in and out I can’t sleep so I’m going to do what I do… I’m going to write.
A Day Like Any Other
Yesterday, started out like any other. I hugged Daddy Russ before work, made breakfast for the boys, ran Luke to swim, did some work – just a day like any other and felt great.
Around 12:30p I started getting the boys ready and packing up to take them to the doctor where little Foster had an appointment. I opened the garage door where the car was parked, loaded the car with the baby bag and my purse, and went back inside to grab the boys. I popped Foster on my hip and Luke followed me out to the car and I loaded him in. After buckling him I realized I left my phone on the bathroom counter so I ran back in with Foster on my hip to grab it. In the bathroom I did a double take in the mirror and remember thinking something along of the lines of, “Yikes! Your hair is a wreck!” So I sat the baby on the ground to pull my hair in to a quick ponytail when all of a sudden it felt like the entire world had tilted to the left. I started stumbling over trying to grab the bathroom counter. As I held on to the counter I looked in the mirror and started seeing the dark coming in like I was going to pass out. So I held on to the counter to get to floor.
Once on the floor I began to suspect I was having a stroke. Many years ago I was diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder and they also found a small hole in my heart around that time (as most of you know I’ve had a mess of heart issues and have a pacemaker). Anyways, when they found the blood disorder my hematologist gave me all kinds of materials which also provided education on strokes, etc.
As I was kneeling on the ground I could still feel the pull to the left and had a hard time staying upright and distinctly feel an aching pain in my left arm, headache and just overall weight on the left side of my body. I knew to try to talk, smile and lift my arms. I couldn’t lift my arms without falling over and I could tell that my smile wasn’t right. And then the scariest part was I tried to talk out loud and couldn’t. I kept saying in my head, “Talk Tori!” “Talk Tori!” Trying to say those two simple words and nothing would come out.
All I could think was, “Dear Lord help me get help.” and I kept thinking, “The boys. The boys. The boys.”
My phone was on the counter so I used one of my hands to reach up and grab it. Praise God a couple weeks ago I took my pass code off of it because I’m not sure I could have punched it in. When I touched the screen my husband’s number was right on top so all I had to do was touch it and it started ringing. While calling him I could feel the symptoms lessening a bit and when he answered I was able to say, “I think I’m having a stroke.”
He immediately said he was calling 911 and hung up to call. At that point I knew help was coming but I hadn’t forgotten that poor Luke was in the car. I couldn’t pick up Foster so I left him in the bathroom (luckily we keep the door to the toilet closed and it was still closed). When I tried to walk out of the bathroom I kept falling over. So I stumbled to the wall to left and then just put my body against the wall to hold me up. I did that all the way to the garage door stumbling a few times where the walls broke but mostly had things to hold on to.
While I was walking the symptoms kept continuing to lessen and I was able to open the garage door. Right when I walked in to the garage (Thank you Jesus) I heard my neighbor’s truck pulling in to their driveway so I walked slowly outside of the garage and began waving and yelling, “Help!”
His sweet boys saw me and ran for their Dad who immediately came running as well. He also called 911 and was on the phone with them for a few short minutes before the paramedics and Daddy Russ got there. In the meantime, little Lukie had gotten himself out of the car and so my neighbor’s sons took him in the house with Foster.
The symptoms had greatly reduced by that time – I was still having some trouble talking and raising my left arm but the paramedics acted incredibly fast and took me to the hospital. I had another much smaller attack in the ER and was admitted shortly after.
What is a TIA?
What I had is officially called a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or a small stroke. We think a blood clot formed in my body and because of the open hole in my heart it went to the brain causing a temporary blockage of a blood vessel. To read more about a TIA click here.
I’ve already had multiple CT scans (I’m unable to have an MRI due to my pacemaker) and there appears to be no permanent damage (PRAISE GOD!). The doctors have started me on a blood thinning treatment and now we are exploring having the hole closed with an implant device.
My family came in from Houston and my sister is helping with the boys. My poor mom is in Europe and I know she’s worried sick (MOM – I’m OK! I promise!).
As I write this it’s now 6:20a on 7/12 and as I look out the window the sky is beginning to lighten. EEEK! There goes the waterworks. You didn’t think I’d be able to get through this post without crying did you?!
Yesterday could have gone very different.
If it had happened minutes later I would have been driving the car with both my boys in it. If it had been worse I don’t know if I could have made the phone call for help. If I hadn’t been able to tell my neighbor that my son was in the car OR he was able to climb out by himself (I actually didn’t even know he could do that). If the clot had been bigger I may not have been able to write this blog post write now and tell you…
Thank you for the absolute flood of prayers and support. People volunteering to bring food, help with the boys, etc. Thank you all for the kind texts and Facebook messages.
My sister stayed with me until around midnight last night. I was exhausted and had a headache but had a hard time letting her go – it was so nice just sitting talking to her (she lives in Houston so we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like).
When she left I realized part of the reason is I was scared to go to sleep. To be honest I was scared of having a stroke in my sleep and not waking up. Of not kissing my husband again or hugging my boys.
So… I turned on my music on my phone (Francesca Battistelli and K-LOVE to be exact) and I read YOUR messages. ALL of them. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And slowly I felt comforted and was able to drift off to sleep.
So thank you for those messages and know they made a difference.
Here’s the Most Important Part
As the sun continues to rise on this new day please join me as I PRAISE GOD! I’m telling you – he was with me the whole time. I was scared – don’t get me wrong. But I wasn’t so scared that I couldn’t think clearly to discern what was happening and weigh my options on what I needed to do.
While a lot in my body went wrong yesterday – SO much went right in the situation. I had taken my pass code off my phone. Russ’ number was there when it turned on. I had forgotten my cell phone and decided to pull my hair up making me set down the baby. My neighbor pulled in to his driveway at the exact moment I made it out of the garage.
THIS ALL IS NO COINCIDENCE. It is HIM.
14“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
And I’ll tell you – I don’t think this is a coincidence that this happened to me THE DAY AFTER what I called, “My First Sermon” (see the blog post here). I know the enemy made a full attack on me yesterday. Shame on him. He is the greatest of fools. If nothing else he VALIDATED my words. I rebuke him and cast him away. I take authority of my body and healing and place them in the hands of God.
Thank you all for helping me, giving me comfort, taking care of my family and SO MUCH MORE! I’ve said it countless times… I am so blessed to have so many people that love and care about me. I gotta say I wish I didn’t have to ask you all to pray for me so much! I feel like I’ve used up my quota – yet you answer EVERY TIME.
To Daddy Russ – Thank you for getting me help, driving like a wild man to get to me, being by my side and keeping me calm. I love you. Never forget that.