Diagnosis Speechless: The Ride of My Life
EMT: "What's your name, sweety? Sweety, please stop crying. Can you tell me your name? Or can you tell me how old you are?
Typically, when someone would ask for my name, I would do just that. TELL THEM MY NAME. But for some reason, all that would come out of my mouth, in between my tears, were slurred words.
When the EMT realized that my response was basically jibberish, she said, "Okay, we're going to take her to St. Joseph's, that's the closest." And finally my words blurted out
ME: "What?! This has never happened to me! Why am I here?!"
EMT: Don't panic. We're taking you to the hospital. We should be there in a few minutes."
WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?!
Let's backtrack a bit. My name is Tasha. It was September 30, 2011 and I was in my senior year of college. While many of the people I knew were completing grad school applications and starting internships, I was taking my very first, all expenses billed to my insurance, ambulance ride! Exciting, right? WRONG.
During the weeks leading up to my ambulance episode, I wasn't feeling like myself at all. In just three weeks, it was like something had taken over my body. What I brushed off as stress was actually about to change my entire life.
It all started in my Advanced Physiology class. As I was taking notes, my hand became extremely stiff. So stiff that the pen fell out of my hand. Surprised and confused, I shook my hand out and attempted to grasp my pen again. Not only did my hand stiffen again, but I couldn't grip the pen at all this time. I sat there wrestling with my hand and my pen for about five minutes until I noticed the guy next to me staring at me like I was some sort of witch. I decided to take a walk and when I returned to class, it was gone. THE BAD PART: I wrestled with my hand at least twice a day for the next three weeks. My handwriting changed from beautiful script to 2nd grade chicken scratch and somehow I assumed that it was some sort of weird cramp that would eventually go away. You're probably wondering why I didn't go and get checked out. Let's just say that I thought I was superwoman and therefore invincible. Lol crazy right?
As if fighting with my hand everyday wasn't bad enough, my speech began to slur a week later. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk, ALOT! Only now when I spoke, no one understood me. I could understand everything that I was saying but it was jibberish to everyone else. I found myself repeating EVERYTHING and having to speak extremely slow in order to be understood. A simple "Hey y'all!" to me sounded like "bvuyorvnsiknfebkifwhhf" to everyone else. Not only was my hand acting crazy, but I also sounded crazy. Once again, I brushed it off and went about my business.
Over the next week, I began experiencing extreme fatigue. Everyone has arrived late to class once or twice. You might hit the snooze button too many times or you stop to get a snack. Try waking up 45 minutes after your alarm because you literally don't hear anything and when you finally get up, you're still exhausted. THAT WAS ME. There's nothing like walking into class 50 minutes late and getting the death stare from your professors. Oh yeah, did I mention that my morning classes were only 75 minutes long? Most people just don't show up at that point, but your girl kept on making that walk of shame into class each and every morning. SHAMEFUL. After about a week, my physics professor pulled me aside to see if everything was alright. To this day, I am sure he assumed I was on drugs because of the nonsense that came out of my mouth when I responded. I told him that I hadn't been feeling too well and I would try my best not to make the lateness a habit. So much for that promise because this continued over the next week. I continued to walk into class almost an hour late looking as crazy as ever. At this point, you're probably wondering why someone didn't drag me to the hospital. It wasn't anyone else's fault but my own because I continued to behave as if I had it all together.
Soon, I started feeling extremely dizzy every time I stood up. My coordination was thrown off so much that it felt like permanent drunkenness. Don't believe me? Ask the tree that I walked into that week. YES, A TREE. I finally told myself that if I didn't get checked out soon, someone would probably try to have me committed. So I decided that once midterm exams were over, I NEEDED to get to a doctor's office. Why did I think that I could push through exams being the stumbling, babbling, dizzy person I had become? I wish I had an answer to that question.
The next week was even more of a blur. The entire left side of my body began to tingle on and off. MY WHOLE LEFT SIDE. FROM HEAD TO TOE. This was the point that I thought I was literally going crazy. I still managed to push through exams and continued attending work and meetings. All while my body seemed to be turning against me.
On the morning of Sept. 30, 2011, I woke up feeling a little better but I was very worried. I prayed that my doctor would be able to figure out what was wrong with me. As I got ready for work that day, I said "Tasha, get it together! You have too much on your plate right now. Don't mess it up." I was giving myself a pep talk but sadly it didn't work. I arrived at my job at my university's day care that morning and sat at my desk. I wasn't there for too long when I began to feel like I was going to pass out. Then, something in my brain told me to call my parents. I called my mother first and then my dad. My dad told me to hang up, alert my boss and have her call 911 as quickly as possible. My mother assumed that I was in my apartment and immediately contacted my best friend who was also my roommate at the time. She asked her to check on me and when they realized I had gone to work, it took all of two seconds for my mother to enter panic mode. Before I knew it, she and my dad were speeding frantically down I-695 to meet me. I know what you're thinking. There were so many signs Tasha. Why did you wait so long? YOU GUESSED IT! I don't have an answer to that one either.
Meanwhile at the daycare, I went into my boss' office and asked her to call 911. I collapsed in one of her chairs and started to feel even more disoriented. Soon, I was laying on a gurney headed to the hospital.
Want to know what happened next? Look out for my next post!
STAY TUNED and STAY FEARLESS