The Gadget That Saved My Life

And no, it’s not the iPad 2 (although I can make a strong case about why I need one.)

You may have seen Bret Michaels tell his triumphant story last week about his battle with a subarachnoid hemorrhage or a bleed in the brain. He spoke about hearing a loud “pop” resembling a gunshot that doctor’s later referred to as a thunderclap headache — the onset of the bleed.

Well, it didn’t happen that way with me.  Hey, they don’t call it a silent killer for nothing.

On August 24, 2009, I gave birth to perfect little miracle named Genesis.  A few days after returning home from the hospital, I started experiencing a stiff neck, headaches, and sensitivity to light. When I called my doctors, they feared it was meningitis and encouraged me to go to the ER. An MRI showed nothing significant and I was sent home with pain medication.

I spent the next day with the room-darkening curtains drawn and squinted behind the sunglasses I wore all day — even when someone would bring my daughter to me. I desperately wanted to spend time with my child, but the pain left me in state of stillness and quiet. Every whispering sound or glimmer of light made the pain worse. How could this be happening? She needed me and I needed her.  How could I be so selfish to remain in my self-made cocoon of blankets? The stabbing guilt was quickly replaced with extreme concern when my light-sensitive eyes could barely detect the familiar faces entering the room. Something was seriously wrong.

I asked my husband to take my blood pressure and knew that a reading of 222/103 was potentially fatal.  I took long, deep breaths and tried to remain as calm as possible while dialing 9-1-1.    

A CT scan and lumbar puncture confirmed a subarachnoid hemorrage — a diagnosis only half of all cases survive.

It took nearly two months for things to level off for me, and I was blessed to not require any surgery or have any further neurological or cognitive impairment.

It’s cool to have the latest iAnything and there are phenomenal apps that can assist you in a medical emergency, but I attribute my early detection to my inexpensive home blood pressure monitor.    

If you take nothing else from this experience, please:

  1. Know your norm.  If you deviate from your normal blood pressure or heart rate, get a consult.
  2. Don’t procrastinate.  Tomorrow is not promised.
  3. Put your money where it counts. Don’t cheat yourself out of quality healthcare.
  4. Listen to your body.  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Get checked out.   
  5. Live life to the fullest.
Here’s to your good health!
Keep It Moving!