I have wanted to visit Seattle for years now. It is only a 7 hour drive from us, and I thought it would be a perfect summer vacation destination. 2011 was the year I would make it happen! It wasn't easy though, I'll say that much. Dan has been laying stone inside a client's house all summer. The project simply keeps growing. From 2 walls to an elaborate curved wine cellar with arches and niches etc. His goal was to complete the interior of the stone work before we could go. So, for the last month I have been helping him. We finally finished on Wednesday evening and left for Seattle Thursday at noon. We pulled into Seattle late at night and unpacked our luggage where we thought we would be staying for the next few days. We woke up early Friday morning, eager to catch the hustle and bustle of the Pike Market opening up. I will write more about our trip on another post, but the short of it was we caught some Market action, then went and did the underground tour. After the tour we decided we should start to walk towards the Science Center and stop along the way for a bite to eat. While we were walking down the street, I started to notice that I was having difficulty reading the signs. The right side of every word seemed to be missing. As I was walking, I covered my right eye... all was right and in order. However, when I covered my left eye, a piece of vision seemed to be missing from my right eye. Almost like a camera flash. It was whited out. Weird I thought. Must be from the bright light of the sun after being underground for so long.
As we were walking, we came across a quaint little Hawaiian restaurant. We all piled into a booth and made our menu choices. At this point, I do not recall having any vision problems. I did not have an appetite though. It was after 2pm and I ordered some Edamame beans and potstickers for the kids and I to share. Dan ordered some Tuna sushi on salad. Dan got up to go to the bathroom. While he was in the bathroom, a street fellow came in and immediately was asked to leave. On his way out, he did a little curtsy and gave us a smile. The kids asked why he was kicked out. "He doesn't any money". I said. Doesn't any money? Does that make sense? There must be a word missing.
"He doesn't any money." I repeated again to see if it made any more than the last I said it. No, that can't be right... what is missing? He doesn't HAVE any money. That's it's. Have. Hmmm... that's weird. I must be tired.
Dan came in and sat down and asked what was going on. "Some guy came in and they asked him to leave, and he did a little dance thing." Boy, that seemed difficult to spit out. What's wrong with me? I don't feel right. Forget about it and change the subject. I'll mention that I saw a ghost tour at the gum wall.
- What came out of my mouth next was not " I saw a ghost tour at the gum wall"... but just jumbled words. I don't recall what they were, I just recall not being able to say the word "tour" and the perhaps I stopped there.
"What?" Dan said looking at me strangely.
Shit... what the hell is going on? Something is not right! Something is really wrong. I can't talk properly!
"I.... I, I can't funny talk." I said as I rubbed my forehead.
"Mommy, you just said, I can't funny talk!"
My heart started race, palms started to sweat and my eyes welled up with tears as I looked at Dan with complete utter fear. HELP ME!
"Your not having an aneurysm or something are you?"
My hands started to shake and I managed to spit out, "Somethings not right".
Dan, noticing the gravity of the situation and my fear, tried to calm me down. "It's okay, calm down... just keep talking."
The last thing I want to do is talk! I can't talk! Why can't I talk!? I know what I want to say, but it doesn't come out the way it should! Am I having a stroke?Do I have a brain tumour? Am I going to die right here? I need to get to a hospital. Should we call an ambulance?
"My (eyes)... I couldn't see right"... I sighed as I was completely frustrated and frightened by the realization that I could not say 'Eyes'.
"Are you okay "Jo", your hands are shaking really bad."
I found myself fidgeting with my phone (doing what I don't know), "No, it's okay." I think it's coming back to me... I think I can talk again.
"Look at your hands!"
"It's fine, I was just scared that's all."
Just then, our waiter came and served our food. The conversation that followed was what just happened and what we needed to do about it. Dan made me eat some rice just in case it was a problem with my blood sugar. They quickly ate up and Dan paid for the bill while I got Muffin to escort me to the bathroom - for fear that I would faint or something.
Dan was outside hailing a taxi. "It's okay Dan, I feel better now... I can walk."
As we walked back to the van, I called my Dr. who said that I need to get to a Canadian Emergency Room as soon as possible for a CT Scan. I called my travel insurance provider to see if this qualified as an emergency. After being on hold... we decided that we would just grab our stuff from the hotel room and zoom up to Canada. We were really unsure about our coverage details and didn't want to run into any problems.
Within the next 2 hours, I had to go to the bathroom every half hour. 5 times within 3 hours and I had only a coffee to drink that morning! This feels like a very important detail in my mind as I am the type of person who goes to the bathroom twice a day. I know, I should drink more fluids, but I also have a large bladder. Somehow though, I managed to pee like a race horse every 30 minutes. Where the fluid came from, I don't know!
Unfortunately the traffic up to Canada was Friday afternoon rush hour, so it was a slow drive. I between stopping for the bathroom, I started to develop a pressure headache behind my left eye and I just wanted to sleep.
We got to the Surrey General Hospital at 8pm. They very quickly had me sped through the registration process and into a triage room for a EKG, blood pressure and temperature. From there they sent me to a minor treatment room, which was a mini emergency room within the emergency ward. The fear had not left me at this point and most likely was only being heightened. An emergency room in a large city hospital is not a pleasant place to be on a Friday night! I wrapped my arms around my kids as I snuggled them in on my lap so I could read them a story from my Kindle. I told them both that I loved them more than the moon and the stars and asked them to please say a prayer. This can't be the end of the line for me, my children need their Mom. Someone needs to get Muffin through puberty, boyfriends and her wedding. Mister will be lost without a Mom to comfort and protect him. He's just a lil boy... only 6! What about the adoption??
At that moment, nothing else in the room existed to me... the young man bent over in his chair as he bled into a white towel from his broken nose, the young girl rocking back and forth with her head in her hands throbbing from a migraine, the man with open sores all over his face, missing his teeth and obviously suffering from a Crystal Meth addiction, the elderly woman curled up in the corner with a blanket, or the woman with such a large growth on her leg/foot that she was unable to walk... they all slipped away into another dimension while I snuggled with my kids and read them at least one last story. This is all that matters. When life gets so crazy, we sometimes forget to slow it down and to relish the important things in life. I should have read to them more, played with them more. Instead of worrying about this and that... I should have taken the time to sit down and just talk to them. How many times have I brushed them off, or tried to buy their entertainment in the form of a video, a toy or a puzzle book? This was precious time I could have been doing stuff with them! Who cares about the housework, the gardens, etc. etc. None of that matters in the end.
Within 4 hours, I had an EKG, my blood pressure and temperature taken twice, blood work, a chest X-ray and a CT scan. The Doctor diagnosed me with a complex migraine. The fear of course was a mini stroke. However, due to the test results and the symptoms I had, the probability was extremely low. My headache worsened throughout the night, and was a bit better the next day... but was still present until Sunday. My eyes were sensitive to light all weekend however.
I am obviously following up with my local Dr. here just to keep an eye on things and to learn more about Aura Migraines. I am not one to get headaches, and even this headache was what I considered to be minor. The Dr. told me that he has seen patients with no headache what so ever with these symptoms. It is called a silent Migraine. Hmm. The brain in a funny thing. I am welcoming this as my wake up call. There certainly are areas with room for improvement on the health front, and I could certainly learn to smell the roses a little more and not take the small things in life for granted. Today, as I left my children in the school yard on their first day of school - the hug goodbye was a lot more meaningful than it has been in the past. I have learned to try and treat every moment as if it were the last. After all, I really don't know when the last time could be. None of us do. My greatest life rule is to live to have not regrets. My biggest fear is regrets. I buy the safest carseats, because I never want to regret the consequence of not doing so. I am very strict about sleep overs, etc... because these are the things that you can't undo and I know the regret would haunt me. I forgot about the small regrets though too. I don't want to regret not living the healthiest life possible or to regret any time spent elsewhere that could have been spent with my children. I also have gained a greater appreciation for the security of Canada, our health care system and the simple security of just being at home. This morning is the best I have felt all weekend. A good night's sleep, and the security of knowing that my Dr. and the hospital is just literally right around the corner if any of us should need it. In the future, our travel medical insurance will not only be a priority, but I will make sure to educate myself on the policy before we leave!
As for Seattle, our date together was cut short. I had so many plans, not to mention tickets purchased in addition to a prepaid hotel through Priceline. (Which I would like to add has the worst customer service. With over 7 different calls between the hotel and Priceline ,over 3 hours of long distance minutes on my cell phone - my medical emergency refund has still not been issued or near to being resolved. In fact, we technically were never even able to check out. The hotel also does not have very much positive things to say about them!) We also left a suitcase in the hotel in the midst of our panic. The rest of our weekend was spent in Vancouver, but I still have a suitcase in Seattle to retrieve. Hopefully, someday in the near future we can fetch it and resume our holiday.