December 29, 2006
There were blog posts I wanted to write during this interim week between Christmas and New Year's. Unfortunately, my plans were short-circuited by an unexpected hospital stay.
I had a stroke on Christmas night. Even writing the words feels strange; I hardly believe them. Even stranger is the discovery that this was my second stroke. (Suddenly the most surreal part of my visit to Montreal in June -- the hour immediately after arrival, when I couldn't form a cogent sentence in either English or French -- makes a new, and frightening, kind of sense.)
The early part of the week blurs in memory already. I noticed the compromised vision while watching Little Miss Sunshine on Monday night. Tuesday morning I called my opthamologist. There were waiting-room time and dilated eyes and boredom. Then the startling news that the problem was neurological; then the first MRI; then admission to the hospital. Bright lights and nurses and the inevitable search for veins on my small hands.
Hospitals don't unnerve me like they used to, thanks to my year of chaplaincy work. I'm grateful for that. Still, it's one thing to be in a hospital in a caregiving capacity, and another thing entirely to be there as a patient, navigating the exhausting waters of uncertainty.
In the last few days I've been injected with rare earth metals twice. I've listened to the thudding techno beat of a giant magnet and to the magnified sound of blood pumping in my arteries. I've swallowed a small camera and allowed doctors a clean view of the back of my heart. (No defects, only a mild murmur.)
Vials of dark red blood have been sent off to the appropriate labs, to test for clotting factors and genetic predispositions. We've changed my usual line-up of meds: a few subtractions (risk factors for stroke) and a few additions to balance them out. I have a team of doctors who I respect and trust, dedicated to helping me figure all of this out in the coming weeks.
I am profoundly grateful to the nurses, doctors, specialists, and orderlies at Berkshire Medical Center. Also to my friends, family, and especially my husband, for taking such good care of me. What a week it has been.
At some point I hope to write more about this: what it felt like, what fears it awoke in me, and what certainties. But everything's still a little jumbled, and I'm not sure I've really processed what went on and what it means. I hope you'll bear with me as I begin to make sense of all this craziness. Meanwhile, as my rabbi noted on Wednesday morning, it gives me an excellent new perspective on the work of pastoral care...