One thing that I try to remind my fellow spoonies is that everything your able-bodied peers experience simply because it is part of living life, they, too, will experience. Just because you have disabilities or chronic conditions, you are not exempt from normal life experiences. Wouldn’t it be great if, as a person with disAbility, you were excused from having routine life crises and problems? It would be great if we could be “off the hook” for things such as:
- caring for aging parents
- routine doctor visits
- tight finances
- broken washing machines
I mean, the list can go on and On and ON! All the stress and busy-ness that abled middle-aged folks experience, we are going to experience as well.
I’ve been under a great deal of stress. I have never handled stress well, though I have certainly found healthier ways to manage it now that I am older. I would go into detail about the types and levels of stress I have been experiencing, but I want to stick with the purpose of this post.
My #3 service dog, Finn, has been a bothersome mammalian velcro doggo. This happens when your stressed partner is taken away by ambulance and is absent for 2 days. Please allow me to provide the embarrassing details:
Wear Your Medic Alert ID
I have four Medic alert bracelets and one Medic alert necklace. On July 15th I was not wearing any of them.
I was experiencing very low energy all day and dealing with typical Meniere’s disease symptoms such as vertigo and dizziness. These are fairly typical symptoms of my disease, especially if you add in stress. I was packing up my bags to spend about 10-14 days with my mom in North Carolina to attend some doctor visits with her. I was also preparing for a face-to-face meeting that evening with my campus Active Minds chapter and had been baking like a fiend all day. I love baking and had planned to bring goodies for everyone to enjoy. Overall, my stress level was “off the charts” from my schedule and from family members experiencing some life-changing crises lately. Bottom line, my stress has been very high for far too long.
I had just zipped my suitcase closed and was getting ready to put make-up on in the bathroom. I had about 15 minutes before I had to leave for my meeting. I realize this is likely TMI for some folks, but if you follow “Hearing Elmo” you know I just tell it like it is and believe in transparency and writing about REAL experiences. I had to pee.
As soon as my bladder was empty my vision went black and within about 30 seconds I couldn’t speak. The right side of my face was in a spasm, my hands were useless and my heart was racing. My first thought was “stroke”. I stood up and screamed as best I could (as I couldn’t speak, remember?). My husband poked his head in the door and after a head-to-toe look, he realized I was experiencing a medical emergency. I managed to push out a garbled “st-ooooke” and he immediately palmed his phone from his pocket and dialed 9-1-1.
I didn’t have my cochlear implant on yet, but I could speech read that he was telling the dispatcher that I was having a probable stroke. At this point, I was still upright but could only shuffle my feet. I was unable to move my hands and arms. My husband stood in the door of the bathroom looking properly scared to death and my only thought was, MY FREAKING PANTS WERE DOWN AROUND MY ANKLES.
I knew I couldn’t articulate that and my terrified husband was distracted with giving particulars to the dispatcher. I kept looking down at my pants while my husband was oblivious to what I thought, was very obvious.
PULL UP MY FREAKING PANTS.
He took my elbow to take me to the living area and I dug my feet in and swung my head in a HARD NOOOOO. He gave me this look like, “What the heck, Denise? Come with me!” With a little bit of SNARK and right back at the sweet, “missing the obvious”, freaked-out male, I ducked my head again to my britches.
PULL UP MY FREAKING PANTS.
Terry finally figured out I wasn’t going to move with my pants around my ankles. (Whew)
After he hitched up my pants, I shuffled to the nearest chair and collapsed. The paramedics arrived within 5 minutes. Pretty impressive if you ask me! The fire department arrived a short time later. Finn was completely freaking out at this point, so Terry locked the dogs in our bedroom and called our son who lives nearby to come and take care of them.
I didn’t have my cochlear implant on my head. I usually put this on last after getting ready to leave. I couldn’t hear any questions being asked (for obvious reasons) and Terry finally figured out my CI was not on my head. He went to the office to dig that out for me. I knew with probable stroke, the medical peeps were going to want to do an MRI. I cannot have MRI’s as I have a magnet in my head. I kept flailing my arm up as best I could and was giving poor Terry the evil eye again. Any blood that was still in his face drained away when he noticed that I didn’t have my medic alert ID on my wrist. He immediately began explaining to the paramedics the issue and making sure everyone knew that I could not have an MRI. As I was being loaded up into the ambulance, internally I kept fussing at myself for being caught without my medic ID. I mean, I preach the importance of this simple yet life-saving piece of jewelry all the time! Here I was having a “come to Jesus” moment about my own hypocrisy in not having my ID on my person. Gah!
Later in the ER and while waiting to be admitted to the hospital, my husband, who prides himself on his corny puns, told me that I literally got caught with my pants down and figuratively did by not having my medic ID on my person. I gave him a wobbly smile but really didn’t find that funny until much later.
I was able to speak and move fairly normally after a few hours, but I was admitted for probable TIA and also had dangerously low potassium. I also had 2 major panic attacks which is never any fun if you have experienced them before. I am a long-time patient with depression and panic disorder, but these two attacks were the worst I have ever experienced.
I’m home now and getting stronger every day. I have a slew of doctor appointments in the next 2 weeks. I guarantee that I will not be caught without my medical ID again. I had never anticipated being completely unable to communicate. If you have disabilities or chronic conditions, wear medic alert ID. In addition to various types of jewelry, there are also QR code options and smart watch technology that will allow medical personnel to immediately access your history during an emergency.
L. Denise Portis, Ph.D.