I talk a lot in these posts about the zillion different ways in which stroke affects daily life. I usually focus on the trivial, largely to lighten the mood but also to emphasise that stroke even affects my ability to do something as mundane as take the dog for a walk; if he spots a squirrel and goes off in pursuit, because my balance is so unsure, he’s liable to drag me with him, pull me to the ground and have me bleeding for hours thanks to my blood-thinning medication. And Rascal isn’t a 50kg Great Dane, but a 5kg long-haired Chihuahua.
But this month, things got serious, hence my recent absence from this blog. Just over a month ago, I mentioned blood tests and an abnormally high blood pressure reading. It appeared to be an anomaly, blamed largely on ‘white-coat syndrome - an understandable tendency to get stressed inside hospitals and surgeries, particularly if you aren’t good around needles, which I’m not.
Then, one morning, I awoke to a blood-covered bedsheet. I thought it was a one-off; after all, lots of people get the occasional serious nosebleed, don’t they? Until it happened again, two days later. This time, there was so much blood around that Mrs Warrior rang 111 at 5am and called the paramedics. As I joked in a rare light moment a few days later, there was so much blood that it looked as if I’d murdered someone.
As I said, this was serious. So the following morning, I was outside my GP’s surgery in zero-degree temperatures at 8am for an emergency appointment. That established that I have weak blood vessels, a side-effect of my blood-thinning medication (a medication I’ve been taking for five years, by the way. Did you know side-effects could suddenly flare up like this? I didn’t).
He referred me to the ear, nose and throat clinic at my local hospital and I’ve spent two long and challenging afternoons there in recent weeks, all the while dealing with two or three major nosebleeds a day (“hold your head over the bathroom sink, squeeze your nose tight and give it 10-15 minutes to stop” said the paramedic). It’s a good job that we have washable wooden flooring, not carpet, at Warrillow Towers….
This week, the problem was finally traced to a bulging blood vessel in my nose, which was closed off (‘cauterised’ is the medical term) in a process that was a lot less painful than any of the thousands of blood tests I’ve had over the past five decades. It seems to have solved the problem and I must thank everyone involved, from my GP who saw me within a few hours, to the clerical people, phlebotomists and doctors - even the taxi drivers to whom I have given far too much money this month.
I tell this story because sometimes, I make light of my fate in an attempt to deal with it. I can walk, I can talk (which plenty of stroke-survivors can’t) so what have I got to moan about?
Well, waking up at 5am in blood-covered bedsheets made me realise that sometimes, I have quite a bit to moan about. When I give talks about stroke-awareness, I always end by saying that I do this because I don’t want anyone to go through what stroke-survivors face every day. If I have to scare people, so be it. But I do hope this post hasn’t scared you too much….