UPDATED AT THE BOTTOM:
On Tuesday, November 13th, 2017 I got up a little late for me, about 6:30 AM. Worked on the site for about 30 minutes while the coffee was brewing. Got up to get me a cup, walked 10 steps to the kitchen and started to reach for the cabinet door...and my left arm would not move. Left leg was weak.
I went straight to a mirror, smiled at myself to see if there was visible signs of a stroke but didn't see any. Normally I am a procrastinator but not that day. Went into the bedroom, told my wife to get up 'cause I need to go to the hospital. And, off we went to Crockett Hospital (now Southern Middle Tennessee Regional).
They knew exactly what to do. Since I was awake when this happened we knew that we were inside the three hour window for the best stroke medicine available, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). It is all now a blur but l think they did a CT Scan immediately to assure there was no active bleeding from an aneurysm, etc. and then brought a nurse/doctor online from Tri-Star to explain what they wanted to do and the possible side effects. tPA was the best thing they could have done, I learned later, but is such a strong blood-thinner that I had to stay in bed for 24 hours. If I fell and bruised myself they might not be able to stop the bleeding.
Discussion was now where to send me and a couple of hospitals were mentioned. At that point I said I am going to Vanderbilt to Dr. Rohan Chitale. He was Katie's surgeon in her two surgeries treating her moyamoya
. They were fine with me going there.
AirEvac came in immediately, got me, loaded me up, and we were gone. It wasn't the most comfortable ride for a big guy like me but that is not a complaint. I texted Dr. Chitale and told him I was coming. In 40 minutes we were landing at Vanderbilt. As soon as we went in nurses were everywhere hooking me up to all kinds of stuff. One of them said Dr. Chitale told us you were coming and to take care of you. Doc is a great young doctor who always seems to know the right thing to say and do.
Lots of tests (MRIs, echocardiograms, bubble echo, ultrasound of carotids, etc). The first neurologist I met with (with his team of med students) examined me and, among other things, commented that with a rehab of 4-5 months I should be able to use my left arm efficiently. The next day, when he came back, I had improved tremendously. Fine motor skill was lacking but overall movement was good. They also first said I would be in the hospital for a week or two. Got there on Tuesday, left Friday night.
So, overall, things went well. I still stumble around a little. Doing things like typing are difficult which is why I make myself do it.
Elaine and I had a trip planned for Europe and it looked like a no-go. However, the closer it got the more I thought I could do it. We had to alter our plans a little in that instead of flying to Paris for four days and then on to Germany we had to just fly to Paris and let Brynn pick us up at the airport and drive us to Germany.
So far our trip has gone well. I am tired, can't walk very far to the trams, etc here but am doing much better than I had thought. In order to update the site on game nights I have to get up at 4AM Germany time (9PM CST), work until about 6 (11PM CST) updating scores, then back to bed for awhile. Not complaining, though. It is good to be alive.
Thanks to all of you who asked about us.
UPDATE: August 27, 2018
After the initial stroke above I had five more between then and March, 2018. All of them were right brain hemisphere therefore all affected my left side, leg and arm. Each stroke made me weaker than the one before. I had a stent placed in my right carotid and am now on bloodthinners and we hope we have fixed the problem. There is also a possible blood disorder (Antiphospholipid Syndrome) but my docs at Vanderbilt and the Mayo Clinic are not sure as of yet.
I can walk OK now but lose my balance easily. The fatigue is still a terrible problem. But, I am alive and able to function pretty well. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers.