Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus

I have a new appreciation for learning disabilities. It started out like any normal baseball game. The weather was warm, the kids were in good moods, and Troy and I were chatting as we watched Garrett's team swinging their bats. I started to misspeak.

You know what I'm talking about, when a word just comes out wrong for whatever reason. My mom tells a funny story about her and a friend. One of them simply could not say "white bread" and repeatedly said, "bread white." Even after pausing and collecting herself, she focused all her attention on the phrase at hand and blurted out, "BREAD WHITE!" It happens. But I said a lot of wrong words in a short amount of time. I finally widened my eyes and said, "What is happening? It's like I'm having a hembolism." I am not even 100% sure that embolisms occur in the head but that's neither here not there. What is here and there is that there is no such thing as a hembolism.

Troy thought it might be the heat or a lack of water. I was skeptical because it was not that hot and I'd been drinking water all day. I stopped talking and suddenly became verbally disoriented. I was not confused about where I was or what was happening. I knew we were watching our kid play baseball. I could think conceptually. I just could not, for the life of me, string my words together to properly form a sentence. My friend asked me a question and I had to concentrate so hard on how to say a three word answer that my head actually started hurting. I also felt very foggy, as though I was having an out of body experience. Within minutes, my head was pounding.

Garrett took his turn at the plate. As he stood there holding his bat, I realized that I knew his name. I knew he was my child. But I could not say his name (first, middle, last) in the right order. That's when I really began to get worried. When the game ended, Troy told me to go to the car and sit for awhile before Matthew's game started. I walked just fine to the car and climbed in. Terrified of what was happening to me, I finally decided to sing a song that I should definitely know. I chose the ABC's. I think I sang it correctly. I took myself through several more brain exercises and felt like I was starting to return to normal. That's when I took out my phone to scroll through Facebook.

And every single one of my friends had posted status updates that were something like this:

Greatest the husband birthday to the world in happy.


Make dinner should I what tonight for?

I blinked. I knew that all my friends had not simultaneously gone crazy. The same thing that was happening to my speech and my memory was also happening to my ability to read. I could see the words, they just weren't in the correct order. Also, my right eye seemed blurry.

I had become foggy, verbally dyslexic and somehow lost the ability to remember things like the correct order of my child's name. I started sobbing. I was terrified that I would never have a coherent thought again. Except that I was somehow having a coherent thought about not being able to have coherent thoughts. It was all very...incoherent.

Just then, Garrett came to the car to tell me that Matthew was about to bat. He saw me crying and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't feel very well. My words came out okay. Together, we walked back to the fields. He took Will for us while Troy and I talked and tried to figure out what was wrong with me.

I asked him to throw a baseball back and forth with me. I wasn't sure that I didn't also have physical limitations. We tossed a ball no problem. I even alternated closing one eye and still managed to catch it most of the time. We sat down and I asked him to quiz me on various things.

"When was Garrett born?" he asked.

"July 20, 2006," I answered. But it took me a second to pull the year from the vault of my strangely clouded mind.

"What are our kids' full names?" he asked.

I rattled off Garrett's and Matthew's. For some reason, it took me a second to remember Will's middle name.

He continued asking questions and I answered, becoming more confident with each question until he said, "What is Moses's mother's name?" My mind was blank.

He kept asking me Bible questions. If it was a well known person or story I could easily recall it. If it was more obscure, it was as if I'd never known the answer before in my life. He then asked me about characters on shows we watch together. I could picture them, but I could not tell him the character name or the actor who played them.

At one point, frustrated, I stared long at a water bottle sitting on the bench in front of me. I could read it. And, as Matthew's game went on, I found that I also began to remember names of people on TV shows and Bible trivia.

From saying words like hembolism to my memory fully returning to me it was about an hour and a half. The part where I could not speak correctly or read lasted between 30-45 minutes.

I saw this clip from SNL this weekend and told Troy that this is what it sounded like in my head. I was so embarrassed to even try to talk because I was terrified that it would come out sounding like this...

On Friday, I called my doctor to see if I could get in to see them just to make sure everything was fine. When I explained what had happened, they put me on hold. Within a minute, the doctor got on the phone. And, I mean, that's really never good. When I WANT to talk to my doctor, it's impossible. She told me that she wanted me to go directly to the ER. Y'all, I did not want to go to the ER. We pay roughly $1,000 in monthly premiums and on top of that an ER visit costs me $400 just to walk in. Then I have to pay for whatever they do to me until I hit my deductible. None of this was my idea of a good time.

I asked if I could wait until I got off of work.

"In my medical opinion," she said, "you need to go now."

I checked in within the hour. Ten minutes after I got there, they put me in a room. Seven very boring hours later I was finally free to go home. You know what is not fun? Sitting in the Emergency Room when you feel JUST FINE waiting for them to tell you if you are JUST FINE or SERIOUSLY NOT FINE. My EKG was fantastic. My blood pressure was terrific. I'm notorious for giving too much information, for telling in twenty minutes what could have been told in two. But I didn't know what was important to the story and what wasn't. So I told it all. The doctor called me a good historian. I felt like I'd been too verbose.

But when he consulted with the neurologist who ordered an MRI, he came back and told me that giving him all the information had helped them decide to run the MRI. Apparently, the same part of the brain controls speaking, reading, and right eye visibility. At that point, they were thinking that perhaps part of a blood vessel in my head had detached. He said it sounded worse than it actually was. That was reassuring because it sounded AWFUL.

My MRI was totally clear. No one knows what the heck happened to make me LOSE MY MIND FOR AN HOUR. It could have been a migraine. It could have been a partial seizure. It could have been a transient blocked vessel. It could have been a dozen other things.

But it wasn't a mini stroke which is what I was afraid of.

"I believe you," the doctor told me. "I don't think you're making it up. I just don't have an answer for you."

"I don't care if you believe me," I told him, laughing. "If it didn't happen, I just need the name of a really good psychiatrist."

"No, no," he said, "It happened."

I'm following up with a neurologist next month.

Until then, I live my life with the peaceful knowledge that the images of my brain were clear and with the unsettling horror that it might happen again at any time. Although, if it does happen again, I am supposed to go directly to the Emergency Room. Given that I will not be able to speak and, presumably, will be unable to write, I will just pull up this video of Vanessa Bayer and gesture wildly until they figure out that I've lost my mind. Again.


  1. I actually get this quite frequently. I get hemiplegic migraines where I literally cannot speak. I cannot form sentences. My vision goes in and out. Half of my body goes numb. I get all of these symptoms and then soon after I get a migraine. It's terrible!!!! It's all because I pinch a nerve somewhere in my body.
    The first time it happened to me was on my wedding day. I thought I was having a stroke. It wasn't until the migraine kicked in that the speech and numbness started to go away.

  2. This happened to me recently! I had just found out I was pregnant (with our Will 😊) and was in Jersey visiting my parents. I was trying to discipline my oldest daughter and had the same confusion with my words. I didn't start to get super freaked out until I heard my youngest daughter crying and realized I couldn't remember her name. Long story short my OB/gyn referred me to a neurologist when I got home. I decided not to have all the tests they ordered to rule out stroke, seizure, etc. and have been fine ever since. I did have some fuzzy vision and headaches throughout the pregnancy but never the speech and brain fogginess again. Still not sure what caused it but i guess it wasn't anything serious. Still scary though!

  3. My first thought was a migraine. This happens to me. Sometimes I get the excruciating headache and soemtimes I just get the weirdness that comes with it. One of the first signs that I'm getting one though is that my right index finger tip goes tingly and numb. 😳 You definitely should go to the ER while it's happening next time though!