Chapter three: The morning life changed

By admin

Here in Sweden we celebrate the summer solstice or Midsummer as we call it. It’s an important holiday filled with food, family and friends. My husband and I had just met Tiny, and we had spent the week before Midsummer trying to get a good picture of him. The little bird intrigued us, and he was difficult to catch with a camera.

It was a happy time and I was in a happy place. No real worries, no real problems. I had clear goals of what I wanted to achieve, and I knew I was on the right track. At least until that devastating Midsummer morning.  We slept in, we had a large party ahead of us that evening, and we wanted to be rested. I woke up, and I felt a slight disorientation. Where was I?

I recognized our bedroom, the lamp hanging from the ceiling. The old tile-stove in the corner. The drapes in the windows. It was a sunny morning, I could see that. The sun found its way through the creases in the fabric and a soft light spread throughout the room.

I knew where I was, I recognized the setting, but something was different; it was as if I weren’t there. When my conscience started to absorb more of the outside world, I realized that I missed half of my body. My left side was gone, nonexistent.

That started an interesting thought process in my head. One part of my brain stated the obvious: the left side was missing – gone. The other part of my brain stated the fact: it can’t be. It’s impossible.

I was lying flat on my back with my head on the pillow. The more reasonable part of my brain suggested that maybe we could look, create a visible confirmation that the left side was still present. The signal was sent from the brain, but my head didn’t move. The only thing I could see was the cover and what appeared to be two feet. The emotional part of my brain felt a sense of relief. At least the left foot was still there.

Afterwards, it surprised me that I hadn’t panicked, but I was so focused on solving the problem, figuring out where my missing body had gone. There was no time to panic.

The emotional part of my brain wasn’t sure of the whereabouts of my left side, especially the arm. It needed more hands-on confirmation, so I lifted my right arm. At least something worked.

The confirmation was conclusive; it was still there. I could feel my left arm and shoulder with my right hand. I can still remember how I patted my arm up and down, just to be sure. It was still there, I hadn’t lost it. Now came the panic.

Could I speak? I didn’t know. It sounded as if I spoke, but I couldn’t determine if it was actual sounds or just thoughts. My husband slept soundly on my left side and I couldn’t poke him, for obvious reasons, but did he hear me? Could I speak? The panic increased and went into full mode. I had only one thought in my mind. I had to get up. I had to sit up.

To sit became the ultimate goal, the one thing that would convince me that everything was going to be okay. I used my right arm and tried to push myself out from the grip of the mattress. Nothing happened. I tried again, focused all my force into my right arm and this time I moved – about two inches.

The logical part of my brain told the emotional part to calm down, this wasn’t working. Now in full panic, my emotional part didn’t listen. Instead I tried again. Pushing with everything I had, I threw my torso upwards. I used every bit of force my body could muster and this time the mattress released its grip, and I sat up. In the corner of my eye I saw how my non-existing left shoulder continued forward. Nothing stopped it. I quickly moved my right hand and grabbed the left shoulder in a firm grip. I caught it, it didn’t escape. Instead I stopped the massive force that had pushed it forward, so the shoulder collapsed and my arm fell with it.

Not far from our bed is a large dresser with a mirror. At the same moment I caught my fleeing shoulder, I looked up and glimpsed myself in the mirror. My face, my body - it had changed.

During all this commotion, my husband woke up and asked what had happened. I still didn’t know if I could speak or if I communicated only in my mind. He reassured me that he could hear me, but I had difficulties comprehending him.

By now, the logical part of my brain understood what had happened. I knew this was a stroke. There was one big problem though; I was 35 years too young for this! How could I have a stroke?

I tried to tell my husband to call the emergency number, but even though he could hear my voice, he had difficulties understanding my spluttered words. He was already on the phone talking to the paramedics and the ambulance was on its way.

At the time, it felt like an eternity until the ambulance arrived. Actually, it took around 18 minutes from his call until they were at our house. During that period, I regained some movement in my left arm and leg, just enough so my husband could help me get into some comfortable clothes. When the ambulance arrived, I had gained more movement in my leg but lost contact with my arm again.

The paramedics took my blood pressure. It was 225/125, way too high, high enough to cause bleeding in the brain and serious brain damage. They quickly moved me to the ambulance and headed to the hospital. I could see the blue shadows from the flashing lights and I could hear the sirens. They made a bigger impact on me than the fact that I still couldn’t feel my arm. When the ambulance turned onto the main road, the reality of the situation sank into my mind: this is serious.

When a stroke occurs you have a window of four hours, and that’s why it’s so important to go to the hospital immediately. During those first four hours, they can usually save the brain. After that, the damage becomes permanent.

A little more than two hours before I woke up, I had been in the bathroom. I checked the clock when I returned to the bedroom. We knew for sure that I had been okay two hours earlier. The paramedic said I had at least two hours left on the critical four-hour timeframe. There was time to get me to the hospital and start treatment.

My husband couldn’t come with me in the ambulance. He had to close the house, but he would drive to the hospital immediately after. I didn’t feel alone when I lay there in the ambulance. I wasn´t worried about myself, more worried about him and if he could drive safely to the hospital while he was upset and stressed.

My cousin lives five minutes from us and if my husband needed help, I knew they could assist. I was strapped to a stretcher in the ambulance and my purse lay on a shelf beside me. I asked the paramedic if I could use my phone and send a text. He nodded and gave me the phone.

I stared at the black smartphone in my hand – I didn’t know what to do!

I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to send a text, but how? The emotional part of my brain started to panic again, but the logical part clearly stated, It’s a text! It’s not rocket science. You’ve done this many times before. Get a grip.

My emotional part was temporarily silenced, yet the phone was a black enigma. I knew its shape, but I hadn’t a clue what to do with it. The longer I stared at it, the more the panic started to creep up again. The logical side of my brain had to work even harder, trying to convince the emotional side to be calm.

Yes. You know how to use a phone so this shouldn’t be a problem. Let’s take this one step at a time, I said to myself. What’s the first thing I need to do?

I don’t know how long it took before I figured out that I had to open the phone’s lock and punch in the code. I had no problem remembering the four digits. It was a major problem though to swipe the screen and, for that matter, figure out how to hold the phone when I couldn’t feel my hand. I eventually got it open.

Okay, next step! Find Susanne. Everything went blank again. I stared at the screen and the logical part of my brain worked overtime. I saw all the icons, but they didn’t trigger anything.

Look again, the logical part said loud and clear. I systematically looked at every single icon. Can I use this? Is this it? Finally, I found the icon with the little envelope. My brain didn’t connect it with a text message but somehow connected it with Susanne. I hit the button and the list of my latest messages came up on the screen.

Susanne’s name was visible in the list, and it felt like a huge victory when I touched it and our latest text came up. Then everything went blank again.

Fly wings

Read the first three chapters in my books

Vinden ven med ett öronbedövande ljud runt huset, ett komplext och skrämmande ljud. I bakgrunden fanns ett otäckt susande som aldrig riktigt slutade. I förgrunden knakade och tjöt det i takt med att hela huset skallrade, vilket skapade ett olycksbådande dovt ljud. Vinden fick huset att kränga och vrida sig, som om det försökte skydda sig genom att röra sig i ryckiga kvidande rörelser.


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