Two weeks ago, I got up for a doctor's appointment, after a really poor night of sleep. I felt as tired as I ever have. I felt out of it, but I'd been feeling out of it a lot lately. My blood pressure was sky high, and the Dr. seemed really concerned. I'd gone in to talk to her about my hormone issues, and she spent a great amount of time going over everything with me - but her biggest concern of the moment - was my B.P. She told me she was afraid I was going to, "stroke out." She had my attention…that was for sure, but I guess - not enough. I went to work, feeling overly tired and out of it. Brian was off that day, and had told me I didn't look well and should stay home. As usual though, I was being hard on myself - for not getting good sleep. The restlessness was mostly caused by my inability to deal with things, and I was not going to waste a precious vacation day on something I'd caused. I was only at work a short while before realizing, I couldn't function. My brain was foggy, as had been happening lately, but this was in a much bigger way. I went home (but I really shouldn't have driven) and slept very hard. I felt more clear when I woke up, but I was still exhausted. I couldn't get out of bed, missing Ryne's baseball game.
I felt better the next day and into the next morning, but that Thursday afternoon, it all came crashing down. I'd just had a smoothie, herbal tea, and shot of aloe for lunch. I was determined to do everything I could to start feeling better. Suddenly, I felt a rush of blood to my head and was really out of it. I got up to try walking it off, when my coworker/friend who sits next to me saw me, and knew something was wrong. I could answer questions, but it was taking time for things to come out of my mouth. I was going to go home, but she wouldn't let me drive (thank God) and she talked about me going to see a Dr. I felt worse and my speech began to be more affected, and I could no longer stand. By this time, a coworker (who I believe is a volunteer fireman) was involved along with some others, and they called an ambulance. I felt everything quickly getting worse, and thought…shit…I'm having a stroke.
My B.P. was extremely high in the E.R. and fairly quickly a lab on my potassium came back very low. Once they I started getting potassium through I.V. and pills, I began to feel better. It took hours for the use of my legs again, but I was grateful to have them. My speech came back, although with a stutter. I was in the hospital until the following evening when an MRI came back that I had not had a stroke. I was beyond happy to know it wasn't a stroke, but I now had a migraine, I had zero reaction to reflex in my left leg and my speech was still altered. I was told to follow up with my normal Dr.
I knew my left leg was weaker than my right, but I was still able to get around. I hated my speech, but I could at least talk. I went back to work on Tuesday, but it was really tough. I was so damn tired - walking down the hall would tire me out. The next day I saw my Dr (our follow up for the hormones - so it all worked out - because it had taken weeks for me to get in to her for the first appointment. I cannot express how much I love this Dr. She really took the time with me and talked through a lot of things. My leg still had no reaction (and still doesn't), and we found that I was delayed with reaction on my left side. I started to get upset when I had issues with reaction with my arm, but she quickly brought me back in. My potassium was back up, so it was unusual for me to still have issues with speech and weakness. She referred me to neurology, and was able to get me in to see him, two days later.
Neurology was frustrating…. I did not realize just how much weaker my left leg than my right, and I did not know my left arm was so weak as well. Still, we had no answers on why this was happening. My labs were looking good, so he said he wasn't "majorly concerned," and referred me to physical therapy and speech therapy. He also ordered an EEG (which I had yesterday but don't have results yet). Again, the consensus is there was no stroke, because my MRI in the hospital had been good.
What was determined in the hospital was my potassium was being depleted by my B.P. medication. When my B.P. had spiked, the Dr. had doubled that same medication - after two days of the doubled med, I was in the hospital. The irony in all of this - is I nearly took myself off of the B.P. med some months ago. My B.P. was really good, but my Dr. was unable to tell me how much it would go up if I went off of it. I thought I'd give myself a little more time, and then the hormomes/depression stuff started and I stayed on it…
If you've read this blog in recent months, you know I have really been struggling with depression. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It has been unlike anything I've ever experienced. I had this awful fatigue, and my limbs would feel so heavy. I had terrible constipation, and my B.P. began to get crazy high. All of these things….are amongst the top things that happen with low potassium. I spent last night reading stories of people who thought they were going crazy and went into dark places, how tired they were, etc….because of low potassium. I had not been feeling well at all for a while, and then that dreadful O.B. didn't do any labs - instead putting me on an anti-depressant. This last month when things were getting really bad, I chalked it up to the Zoloft. At this point, I don't know how much or if any of the things (outside of not being able to feel a fucking thing) I was experiencing and chalking up to the Zoloft were actually related to Zoloft - or the low potassium. The relief with knowing everything could be a side effect of the low potassium, is the best news ever. I could not keep going on feeling like that. Since leaving the hospital and having the potassium replenished, I have not been experiencing any of those things. I've pooped three days in a row! I know you didn't want to know that, but it is life changing :)
The last three days I've felt better and better. I put my fitbit back on, on Sat. I worked hard and got 3,000 steps. Sunday I worked up to 4,000. Yesterday I worked my ass off (actually too much - I'm kinda down for the count right now) and hit 8,000 steps. My brain wants to go, but I feel my legs not having the strength. As I get more tired, it feels like my left leg is just dead. I worry my legs will just go out underneath me. I want to do so many things (which is a feeling I really missed), but my body is not working with me yet - but it is improving. My speech is improved each day over the past three days as well. It gets worse as I get tired, but it has come a very long way. It had really worried me, as it seemed to be getting worse, day by day for a while.
I don't have answers from my doctors yet, but I'm beyond grateful for a friend of mine, who is a dermatologist. She did a lot of research and told me last night what she thinks could be happening. In a nutshell, it sounds like my muscles are still spasming from the lack of potassium to my muscles.This can go on for a while, although it varies between people. It should be corrected with my therapies and time. (Or my prayer is they stop on their own-soon). This is rare, but it explains why I'm still having the weakness on my left side and in my speech - and why things get worse when I'm tired - my muscles are tired. This mimics (physically) a stroke. My mind has been good through everything, so to me, this sounds like the reason. It's the only thing that makes sense. I pray this is correct, as it means it wasn't a stroke - because I've been fearful it was a TIA stroke or Petite Mal stroke. This has scared the shit out of me. I know these can slip by an MRI, and until the muscle spasm explanation, I truly believed that's what happened.
I'm sorry for my rambling, but it is what has been going on. I will say this….provided I do completely recover - I'm glad this happened. It was terrifying, but I believe it will end all I've been going through in recent months. Yesterday, I totally felt like myself. It had been so long, I hardly recognized it. It felt great. This scare put me back on track with my diet. I finally quit drinking pop. I mean, it only took hospitalization, but hey - I quit. I'm again thinking about everything I put in my body. I'm weaning off of the Zoloft. I'd taken half the dosage the past two weeks and will only take half, every other day for the next two weeks before being free from it. I'm off of the birth control pill and most of my supplements as well. I need to have anything with hormones out of my system for a month before we do the testing for menopause, etc. I still have the awful night sweats and hormone related stuff, but I can live with this for now. I'm excited to keep pushing my body. I'm craving boot camp (I know - wtf….), but I can't wait to go again. The meme above means a lot more…because I was last before, but this will likely be a road to hoe, and I will be last by even further for a while. Then, one day I won't be. I feel like the sky is the limit, and I'm excited to get back to everything these past months have stolen from me. (At the same time, my ass is so kicked today from those 8,000 steps - I need to try and be smart about everything).
My friends and family have been amazing through it all. My friend followed the ambulance and stayed with me until Brian got to the hospital. Other coworkers stopped by the ER as well. I sent Brian home that night for a while to get the boys fed and everything, and a friend kept me company while he was gone. The same friend took me to my dear friend Lynn's, daughter's wedding. I didn't want to miss it, but I could not have done that myself (Brian had to go back to work). Friends have brought over meals, snacks, wine, flowers, and been so wonderful about checking in. A couple of coworkers had asked me for Ryne's baseball schedule at the beginning of the season, and I was so happily surprised when one of them came with his girlfriend on Saturday to watch Ryne play (in the freezing cold). On Sunday, I heard from all three of my coworkers from our little cube land, one even driving 45 min each way just to check in and bring us farm fresh eggs. Really, the people I work with have been great. I was so humiliated to have been taken away from there by ambulance and equally humiliated that they heard my speech that one day at work last week. They have all gone out of their way to make everything feel normal, though.
I weigh 8 pounds more than I did at my lowest. The number on the scale means much less to me, but I have a renewed energy about my health. I was surprised to learn that low potassium is rarely caused by diet, but my eating/drinking habits were not very good that 5 weeks I was on the full strength of Zoloft. I cared about nothing, and eating was the one thing that felt good. That month could have been a small contributing factor to everything crashing, but I'm relieved to know it wouldn't have been the only factor. I know I will forever be diligent about my health moving forward (with of course room for some indulges as I've always made room for). I'm excited to getting to where I was fitness wise and beyond. For now, I know that diet is the biggest change you can make if you want to change your weight. We don't have any excuses - despite how much we can do right now, physically.
I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and will find out when I will be released back to work. The original note is through tomorrow, but I know she wants to evaluate me again. My B.P. continues to be weird, but I assume the spasms are causing it. My sodium tests are good, so the B.P. is a little confusing.
Brian has been off this last week, so it has been nice to have him here with me. We hardly ever get to see one another, so this has been a treat.
I hope this Tuesday is finding you well and you're able to seize the day - in whatever way makes you happiest.