September 17 – 26, 2014 – Recovery

September 17, 2014

First doctor of the day says likely not MS and was most likely a stroke. I just want to know the truth. I need an answer. Also, what caused a 30 year old vegan to have a stroke? Also, steroids suck and may have been for nothing.

To answer the questions –
I don’t get migraines. I’ve been vegan since 2009, don’t smoke, enjoy exercise, and don’t take birth control. If stroke, it was non bleeding. My cardiovascular health is apparently excellent after the recent tests and no hole on heart was found. Yes, I do have a high stress job that is mostly sedentary, but I take yoga breaks throughout the day. Didn’t get hair done, massaged, or chiropractor before it happened. I keep salt limited already and do many raw meals as normal dietary practice.

Also thank you again for the feedback. I have more websites to read! Xoxo!!!

To answer more questions-

I have received chiropractic care before and do maintenance adjustments as needed. I hadn’t had one recently though and did actually think it was a pinched nerve at first. MRI showed otherwise.

I am well versed in the Gerson documentaries and therapy. I love this very much.

Again, I already do many raw meals as my usual practice and limit salt and processed vegan junk foods.

It’s interesting to have it suggested to me many times over the last two weeks by so many people about what things I must be doing with my lifestyle when I keep saying how I don’t do those things in the first place and then the medical test results prove that my system is healthy on top of that.

The answer is they don’t know because there is no explanation for why this happened at this point. I think that’s why it’s easier to assume MS. And that’s not a guaranty. It could have easily been a bundle of platelets induced by stress. There is no telling right now.

I’m letting it go and just going to do the best i know to do. Exercise, clean vegan, and work on reducing stress.

And yes, that was mentioned in either case of stroke or MS… Being vegan already either slowed the attack and/or saved me from a worse episode.   never going back from that!

September 18, 2014

Excited to be going back to work today. Wonderful boyfriend is driving me so I don’t fall off the freeway while the world spins around. I’m ready to feel strong and independent again.

September 19, 2014

I’m looking around and seeing so many people getting so angry over the small stuff. I’m like, I’m alive right now. And today I’m not in too much pain and I’m feeling good enough to work at my job at this moment. And that’s life being beautiful and perfect.

September 20, 2014

Going to tackle some physical therapy at my local gym with the best certified trainer in the industry.

I either had a stroke or MS episode last week (doctors can’t decide which it was) and I’m in the gym this week.

What’s your REASON? Stay strong, friends.

It was a hard session. Fighting against side effects from medicines. Fighting against weak left limbs. Fighting against pride and the past. Fighting my ego. Fighting impatience. Fighting to overcome.

I will be stronger each day. I will have more control each day. It will get easier. Right now, it’s war. Mentally and physically.

Organic lunch – plain wild rice with raw carrot ginger soup.  Carrots, yellow squash, purple onion, garlic, ginger, celery, with one cup of plain soy milk.

September 21, 2014

Happy to be at work today (Sunday) catching up.

Chocolate vegan Shakeology hand shaken just with plain water and a shot of Alkalinize for extra green power.

One email at a time.

Each day it gets a little easier. Just gotta keep fighting.

September 22, 2014

I drove myself to work this morning. Another recovery step accomplished.

I’m eating every 2 hours to speed up my metabolism.  I had a cup of strawberries to break the fast and then 2 cups of leftover raw carrot ginger soup with plain wild rice and raw sea vegetable kimchi. I’m about to have a banana and raspberries with coconut milk – like cereal, but all fruit with a sprinkle of raw pumpkin seeds.

On the raw menu for the rest of the day – 4 small Roma tomatoes, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 small zucchini, 2 tangelos, 1 large mango, 1 small apple, and several fresh basil leaves.

Then probably a chocolate vegan Shakeology for pre-workout fuel.

Baked squash for dinner. A small block of tofu if I’m still very hungry post workout.  And LOTS of water.

Gym on my lunch break. 35 minutes on elliptical and some weight machine work on Gimpy. I named my left side Gimpy.

One of my doctors called and changed his view on my diagnosis. He is greatly leaning towards MS instead of stroke upon further test review. Well, at least I might not have had a stroke at 30 years young. There’s that.

September 23, 2014

The more doctors I see, the more sure I am that the healthcare industry is a joke.

The Cardiologist said today that based on my current test results and profile, I’m really NOT a stroke risk at all, but yet my episode was so very much like a stroke. So the possibilities of HOW a stroke could have happened in this body are drastically reduced to either a fluke or the hole in the heart theory. I have to go back for a test where they inject me with bubbles to see if I have a hole. They saw my bruised arms today and said they could wait a few weeks while I heal from 20+ sticks and 3 1/2 IVs from the hospital.

Also my spinal tap came back positive for MS like characteristics such as the presence of oligoclonal bands.

However, my brain lesions including the old on my brain are nearly symmetrical!!!!! MS is supposed to be random! I must be a natural neuro artist to accomplish such a feat!! Neuro Art. Yes I’m making that a thing now.

ALSO, if it is a hole in the heart, they don’t even patch them anymore because relapse risk is extremely minimal. So what’s the point?

I need an extra strength FUKITOL and more raw vegan nourishment, water, yoga, meditation, and more exercise. That is what I’m prescribing myself. I think I know more than them at this point.

(NOTE – I saw my MRI film later and the 4 lesions are not symmetrical at all – as I had previously been told by several doctors.)

September 25, 2014

Transitioning to fully raw vegan seems more and more inevitable. Especially now with facing a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, my body needs all of Mother Nature’s tools to fight.

I’m already around 75%-90% fully raw vegan on a normal day. The final few craved cooked comforts are homemade miso veggie soups, tofu, rice, vegan cheese, noodles, and beans.

Let the alternative recipes come flying in! I’m an Umami junkie.

The focus is not about what I can’t have. It’s about what can be created instead.

My hometown hero Rawfully Organic’s Kristina is my inspiration. www.rawfullyorganic.com

Also, I think it may be time to get a legit Spiralizer.

Everything that is within my control, I willingly submit to the permanent lifestyle changes. Daily intense exercise, calming meditation, and raw vegan nutrition are all things I can control and be proactive with to prevent any further episodes. After that, I can honestly say that I did my best.

In other news, I’ve given up all caffeine and alcohol as of two and a half weeks ago. No more morning coffee or after work glass of wine. Amazing how a hospital tour can scare all the little vices out of you at once! 

September 26, 2014

Gratitude.

My diagnosis after numerous opinions and even doctors changing their minds upon further review is now definitely relapsing Multiple Sclerosis. Knowing the enemy brings comfort, strategy, and actions to the fight. Let’s do this.

I’ve worked almost a full week at the office minus leaving for doctor appointments. I feel happy with purpose and opportunity to live normal.

The morning cool air makes me so happy. I love fall.

I’ve been driving myself since Monday with no issues.

It’s Friday. That’s always a good day.

I am exercising every day for a minimum of 30 minutes whether I feel good or not. I always feel better after exercising. Either I will hit the gym during the lunch hour or I will go after work with my favorite gym buddy boyfriend.

I’m crazy in love with my boyfriend. He’s been my rock through this entire ordeal. I know it must have been stressful for him. He really proved what I already knew. They don’t make them like this anymore.

I know it’s easy to use MS as an excuse for wallowing and inaction. My goal is to use it as my REASON for gratitude and action.

Someone asked me today why I was so happy about getting such a horrible diagnosis. I said, it’s far more horrible to suffer in confusion and uncertainty. I’d rather know the truth!

I’ll happily go fully raw if it gives me a fighting chance.

September 12 – 16, 2014 – Recovery

September 12, 2014

Goals for today (recovering at home still under the probable diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis):

-Do some very slow and careful housework to practice coordination and balance. I am still weak and wobbly on the left side but it’s gotten better each day. I have to think consciously about each movement or step before I make it. Like relearning to walk and hold things. It takes a lot of awareness and concentration. The symptoms are still much like a stroke in that I have to rewire my brain around the damaged spots. I have 3 old spots and this one new spot on my brain that caused this episode of symptoms and they are all tiny. Apparently I never noticed the other spots when they happened.

-Take my second to last IV steroid drip at home with an RN like a boss! Because I’m a giant wussy baby when it comes to needles and they need a new line since I can’t leave the hospital with any lines for liability reasons.

-Drive myself very slowly and carefully to the pharmacy down the street to get the rest of my pill form prescriptions.

-I already managed a bath last night but today I’m going for a thorough hair washing. All by myself! Even if it takes an hour of grunting and wobbling. I’ve got this!

-Go to the gym for a little bit. Do 20 minutes total even if I have to take a lot of breaks on the stationary bike. Maybe lift some very light weights on the machines so they will help control my movements properly. No free weights right now. Yes I will ask for a spotter and no I won’t over do it. Exercise is essential for movement recovery.

-Have a humorous hallucination! (Side effects of my steroids include hallucinations and yes I have them sometimes.)

-Work towards going back to the office on Monday. Even if I have to take breaks and don’t make a full day. I need to focus on getting my typing skills back.

-Typing this list was also a goal for today. I am using both hands!!!! Slowly but successfully.

Did not make all goals today. IV in my good hand so I only have my bad hand to work with until tomorrow. Then it’s on again. Typing and eating with weak side is hard practice.

September 13, 2014

Just a few more hours until IV can come out. Nearly made it.

Victories of the day. Baby steps to recovery.

Finished last IV steroid drip and got unplugged by RN – no more tubes in my arms. Took a bath and washed my hair by myself. Ate by myself. Dressed myself and put on a bra all by myself. Down to one bandaid on my arm and many many bruises ready to heal. Folded towels and hung laundry one item at a time.

All these little things I took for granted. When folding towels becomes physical therapy, no matter how dark and dismal the world seems, it becomes brighter with each sweet and simple victory in the day. Baby steps to victory. 

I’m a little loopy from the steroids and seeing fairies fluttering all over the place. Lol. Fun times. This too shall pass.

I just slowly curled some 3 lb hand weights and concentrated hard on coordinating left and right sides together. I was breathing hard! Yoga poses… Child’s pose, cat/cow, sun breaths. Break time. Then more stretches tonight before bed. Each step is celebrated.

September 14, 2014

Riding out the midnight side effects. Last IV of the 5 day heavy steroid emergency MS treatment was this morning. Beginning the pill taper down tomorrow. Dealing with irritability, insomnia, stomach upset, dizziness, hallucinations, disorientation, restlessness, and full body muscle pain, swelling, and cramping.

Reflecting, planning, and trying to stay calm and positive.

Thinking of raw organic food creations that I want to make soon with my own hands. Cucumber, celery, and tomato salad. Zucchini pasta with raw tomato and red bell pepper and basil sauce. Rainbow carrots, kale, beets, and apple juice.

I walked along side wonderful boyfriend and my dog this morning mostly unassisted and very slowly on some uneven ground outside. Went grocery shopping for organic fresh produce at Sprouts and even drove part of the way back home with supervision. The air was cool and we had the windows down and the music loud. The air has never felt this good.

Now to try the gym. I may have tears rolling down my face sometimes while grunting through the motions of what used to be so easy. And that’s okay. It’s not easy. Humbling. But I have goals. I will walk again. And then I may bike. And maybe run and swim too. One step at a time. Today I walk.

I did it!!!! 30 minutes on elliptical on low resistance. I like elliptical because I can hold on with hands and legs and feel secure. Very light weights on arm and leg machine with supervision to work on coordinating left and right sides. Had some tears but smiled through it. Yoga stretches planned for later.  

Today was very hard after the pills kicked in mid day and I started having the horrible side effects again. They are lessening now. Will try again tomorrow. Each day little by little as much as I can.

September 15, 2014

I had grand aspirations to return to work on Monday morning. When the medication side effects hit me again Sunday about mid day like a ton of bricks and completely debilitated me for many hours, I had to come to terms with not being physically ready to return to work safely yet. A hard lesson. Humbling, again. I miss “normal.”

Boyfriend’s mom visited yesterday during the worst of it when I couldn’t even see the floor beneath my feet and she is absolutely magic. Thanks, guardian angel! She is a massage therapist and somehow managed to calm all the involuntary muscle twitching, psychotic perceptions, and painful side effects of the medication long enough for me to sleep for the first time in 3 days.

I’m on a roll now! I’ve been asleep for the last few hours straight and I think I’ve still got a few more hours of sleep left in me. Taking a quick break to acknowledge the good and little victories.

Here we go on another wild ride of side effects. The world is spinning fast.

Goals of the moment:
-stretch often.
-drink lots of water.
-make dandelion greens and tomato salad – one leaf at a time.

Fighting battles, fighting for control, and learning my new body. A couple of pity parties and pep talks today. I look in the mirror and the muscles are sagging where the brain refuses to engage them. I cry, and then refocus, and then cry again. I’m fighting through the side effects of the steroids and that’s definitely making me feel like shit. I’m clinging to the thoughts of the happier and stronger tomorrow. One breath at a time.

September 16, 2014

I am determined to have a better day. The old is gone. Forget the past. I must let that go. Focus on the new.

Two weeks from now, I want to look back and say, yeah I pushed through that and did my best and look how much further I came because of it.

A little less dizzy and side effects feeling than yesterday. Focusing on stretches, completing basic chores, and feeling unbelievably lucky to know so many wonderful people. Thank you for being you.

Daily gratitude.

I took my dog out for a walk without assistance twice today. It takes me a long time to walk now and there is a lot of pain and stiffness where I do feel my left limbs, but at least I can walk today.

The dizziness steroid side effect wasn’t as bad today. As in, I couldn’t even see the ground before and now I have an idea of where it is and can sort of focus my eyes on it. My equilibrium is rocking and rolling to it’s own rhythm, but there is small improvement from yesterday.

Best boyfriend in the world took me to a free yoga class at our local gym yesterday evening. I could barely stand or sit on the mat, let alone hold a pose. So frustrating to be back at less than square one. Teacher modified each pose and worked on visualization and breathing and holding very light poses for my extremely weak and shaking body. The teacher was trained in MS therapy yoga so I was very happy to make this connection. Several times I started crying in class, and I completely let loose after class on her shoulder. The emotional part of the journey apparently needed to be released too. Also boyfriend is apparently a natural yogi and was the class eye candy for all the ladies.

I have 4 doctor appointments in the next week alone and 2 are tomorrow. Some are for stroke recovery and prevention and some are for MS. I still have both diagnosis on my file and will be working with doctors to figure out more. If stroke, it could be a small hole in the heart releasing platelets. If MS, well, either way the struggle is the same. Exercise like a beast, regain mobility, and continue eating healthy clean vegan style. Do the best I can, one breath at a time.

I plan to return to work on Thursday. For real this time. With doctor approval tomorrow.

September 8-11, 2014 – The Hospital

September 8, 2014

I’m in the hospital.  I’m here for mini stroke symptoms but it’s not confirmed yet.  Genetics are a bitch.  I said.  I’m 30 and vegan.  How do I get a stroke?  They said even babies can have strokes.  It’s definitely nothing to do with diet.  That much is clear to them.  Plus, only my left arm and left leg were affected.  My face and mind seem fine.  And I’m already getting stronger, but I still cry like a baby when they come at me with more needles.  I’ve been stuck more times than I can count now.  At least I was vegan…  It could have been so much worse.

September 9, 2014

It’s confirmed. I had a stroke.  Not a mini stroke.  They say with my progress already I should be great in a few weeks.  I just learned to walk again.

I had a stroke.  Even being young and vegan, there is no 100% guaranty.  Genetics are not on my side.  Har har…. My left side!  Get it?  

Thank you to my wonderful boyfriend and his father for staying with me yesterday during the scariest parts.  Boyfriend even took care of my animals and brought me raw vegan food, my Sonicare toothbrush, Shakeology, phone charger, and pajama pants.  Really grateful and feeling so lucky.

September 10, 2014

Good morning!  Hospital Day 3.  Still coherent, no facial sagging or smile drooping, doing lots of walking laps around the wing and exercises working on left limp dexterity and I can see a wonderful improvement there.  Last night I had my first IV drip of steroids for emergency possible MS treatment, and I’m scheduled to get more conclusive Multiple Sclerosis tests done today.

There is a grand debate now whether it’s MS or a stroke (or both?) between several neurologists and the rest of the doctors.  Can’t wait to find out for sure.  MS would make more sense because of my age.  Stroke would also make sense because of my normally high blood pressure from genetics.

I haven’t been eating much, but what I do have is Shakeology for breakfast plain hand shaken with water, and for lunch and dinner a singular raw vegan entree and a fresh juice snack from Green Seed Vegan brought to me generously each day by my boyfriend, his mother, and his father – my guardian angels.  Boyfriend stays with me overnight and walks laps with me and entertains me with Robin Williams comedy sketches too and takes care of my animals at the house.  I’m a very lucky girl.  Yesterday boyfriend’s mom did my hair using dry shampoo and brought deodorant.  Little luxuries.

Here’s to another day of getting stabbed and poked!

Diagnosis of stroke is one test result away from being officially recanted and replaced with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

This MS episode had stroke-like symptoms even down to the evidence showing on the MRI.  Management will be this emergency treatment (rescue MS steroids by IV for 5 days) plus pills and weekly injections I can do myself at home going forward.  Chances are, I might never have another episode.  If I do, I know what to look for and how to get rescue treatment for it again.

You BET my clean eating vegan habits are here to stay and then some.  I’m so glad I was already vegan with lots of fresh produce incorporated.  Raw vegan balanced meals will be the majority with a couple of “cheat” cooked vegan meals occasionally.

Also gym gym gym no excuses gym gym gym.  I have to regain dexterity and strength on my left side and stay as active as possible.  If I ever have another attack, I will be ready for another quick bounce back.

Thank you again for the love and support.  It means so much from the bottom of my heart. Xoxoxo

MRIs are scary by the way and take a really long time.  The tech strapped me in and put the helmet thingy on my face and chest and started rolling by body in to the tiniest tube thingy ever.  I got all the way in and she goes “you okay?”  I go, “NOPE!!!!”  Instant panic attack.

Lol she rolled me out and I calmed down.  I said, I didn’t realize I was claustrophobic!!!  She said, you’re probably not.  This is really normal.  Then she gave me the magic wash cloth to go over my eyes so I couldn’t see the scary helmet restraints.  I centered myself and she put me in again.

I was fighting the freaked out feeling until the machine started doing it’s loud noisy thing and then I just pretended I was listening to a rock band warm up.  She rolled me out after 25 minutes… I was like, lady, I need a cigarette and I don’t even smoke!!!!

The vampires took nearly 20 vials of blood from me today plus I got the spinal tap (spinal fluid draw) which apparently isn’t as rock and roll as it sounds.  Who knew?!

I also got visited by the hospital Chaplain today.  We had a playful debate about why God doesn’t love me because why would he give me my period on day one of being in the hospital with only one good working arm.  It was a fun and distracting conversation and he had some good Aggie jokes.  And he retold me the story of Job and I was like, I was in that play in high school and the guy who played satan was really hot.   

Boyfriend’s dad brought me the entire Green Seed Vegan menu!!!!  I have lunch, snack, dinner, midnight fresh fruit snack if I need, breakfast, and lunch through tomorrow!  LOVE this man!!!!

September 11, 2014

Hospital day #4.  Rumor was I might get released today but I don’t see how.  I’m super weak today and my back is very sore from the spinal fluid test yesterday.  I can’t even sit up unassisted right now.

Last night was rough.  I woke up to some scary side effects including hallucinations and double vision.  Woke up this morning with extreme heartburn which is another side effect.  Blah.  Trying to stay strong.  I should maybe specify that the side effects were from the MS steroids. Taking round 3 of the IV now.

The vampires paid me another visit this morning.

Vamps: Can we get some blood?

Me: No. Go away! Be gone, children of the night!

Vamps: Pretty please?

Me: How many vials this time?

Vamps: Only one and it doesn’t even have to be full.

Me: Fine… But don’t even think about coming back with 20 more vials today. I need time to make more juice!

I miss my furry children.

Feeling a little better than this morning.  Did some laps and exercise with physical therapist.

I may get to go home from the hospital today.  And if I do, I’m going to start training for the MS 150.  Even if it’s 5 minutes at a time on a stationary bike at the gym.

I’m going home!!! I’m getting discharged!!!

Monday, September 8, 2014 – Journey to the Hospital

The first alarm went off at 4am with the note flashing on my cellphone “Take Yer Pills!”  I have Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism and take medication each morning at least one hour before I plan to drive to “turn my brain on.”  I was diagnosed in my early 20’s.

I rolled out of bed and immediately noticed that my left arm and left leg were numb.  I shook them out thinking I must have slept oddly on the left side.  I hobbled over to the kitchen and took my pills with a glass of water with no trouble swallowing and hobbled back to bed to sleep until my next alarm telling me to “Get Up Now!

At 5am, I hobbled out of bed again to take my dog on his morning walk.  I noticed that my left ankle was failing to support my weight and would buckle with each step.  I shrugged it off and kept on with my morning routine.  Showering and getting dressed took a lot longer than usual making me late for work.  I just couldn’t get my left arm to cooperate.  What the hell?

Suddenly I thought, “what if I had a stroke?!”  I ran to the mirror and checked my face.  No sagging at all.  I smiled.  My smile was symmetrical.  I recited some lines from an all volunteer community theatre show I performed in recently called NPC.  “It’s a neural signal coming from somewhere within the brain but clearly not from his conscious mind.”  The lines of my character the cartoonish mad scientist studying neural signals to disprove the theory of free will.  Zoom out and we were really video game characters with no free will at all.  NPC stood for non-playable character.  Get it?  It was a fun comedy with a twist.  Anyway, my speech seemed fine.  My memory seemed fine.  I told myself, “I’m fine.”

I’m 30 years old and I’ve been vegan since 2009 and vegetarian since 2003.  There was NO WAY I had a stroke.  I’m overweight and I know my blood pressure is a little high, but there was NO WAY I had a stroke.  The possibility seemed very unlikely, so I just kept going.

I got in my car and started driving to work already much later than my usual time.  My left arm wouldn’t grasp the steering wheel properly.  I placed it on the wheel with my right hand and told my left hand to tighten.  The left hand kept sliding down off the wheel and plopping limply into my lap.  I finally allowed myself to admit that something might be wrong.  The tears came pouring down my cheeks.  I got myself together and convinced myself that this wasn’t happening.  This was all just in my head.  Oh how right I was..

I managed to get to work in one piece using my right side.  I hobbled to my desk and tried typing in my password, then realizing that my left fingers were not responding at all.  I couldn’t type!  I’m an assistant and typing is my livelihood.  It hit me for real this time like a ton of bricks.  Something was definitely wrong.  Oh god what if I had a stroke!?  I started sobbing at my desk.  Luckily my lady boss was there and heard me.  She drove me to the ER.

I hobbled up to the ER front desk.  The receptionist asked me why I was there.  I broke down crying and said, “I think I had a stroke.”  I was given an x-ray and CAT scan immediately and put under stroke protocol.  My boyfriend and his father rushed to the ER to be with me.  For the next few hours, they held both hands and entertained me with jokes and stories while we waited for the test results.

Every test came back negative for evidence of stroke, so they sent me to a hospital with a top neurology department.  Off I went in my first ambulance ride to be admitted to a hospital for the first time.