Stroke of Luck

So, it would seem that plane flights in and out of Italy don't agree with me. Coming back to Morocco, while reading the paper, and realized my right eye felt strange. Then realized I couldn't close my eyelid. Then had a sinking sensation realizing I couldn't move my mouth. I went to the bathroom at the back of the plane as we crossed the Mediterranean, and saw, with the feeling you get out of a nightmare, that I couldn't move the right side of my face at all. It was just kind of drooping. I tried to smile, and only something sickly came out from the left side.

I asked the stewardesses to find out if there was a doctor present, thinking, I'll never be able to get married if this is permanent. No doctor was on board, but a kindly nurse came back, to recommend that I take some aspirin, and that she couldn't diagnose, but I should definitely see a doctor when we landed. I was in a great fright, and laying hands on my face, and praying over it. The only way I could move anything on the right side of my face was with my hand. I could feel my face, but it was also numb at the same time. The pilot came back, and wanted to know what I would prefer- should he divert the plane to Spain or not? He had to know now, because we were about to fly over Algeria, and it was not possible to land in Algeria. (This may have been because a number of those on board were Moroccans, and thus forbidden to travel within Algeria.) But I think I was thinking that I'd rather die than inconvenience an entire plane of people. And at about this time the nurse said that my face was looking better. I noticed I could move my mouth a little bit. I could partially close my eye. And very slowly, the control returned. It had been a long 15 minutes.

Upon landing I got off the plane as quickly as possible, and arrived to see the train from the airport had left 10 minutes before I got there. I called my friend Katie up to get her help in going to the hospital, and went out to check on the availability of buses back to town, but the last one had likewise recently left. Taxis are too expensive from the airport. So I returned to the train station, but to get there, you have to go into the terminal again, which means through the screeners. The guy in front of me was taking his time as he had difficulty comprehending how to step through a screener, and in the meantime my bag was going through. I saw the look of shock on the face of the screeners and their exclamations as they x-rayed my bag, and knew what was going on. But I couldn't get to the bag until I went through the metal detector myself. Then I had security pull out the replica of the Dillinger I had bought in San Marino for the Oliver play- a replica I had no real problems with in the airport in Rome, where I explained that it was only an authentic-looking replica. But here, it went through 5 security levels, while I explained why I needed it, and had to go through the whole story of what happened on the airplane, to explain why I had left the terminal and was coming back in, but not to take a plane, just the train- and all this in Arabic. They finally gave the Dillinger back to me, sternly admonishing for me not to take it out in the airport, which of course had been my intention all along.

Katie picked me up from the train station, and we went off to the Cardiologist. They did a number of scans, including an MRI of my brain, and sonograms of my heart and arteries. (It turns out it was a boy.) Nothing was revealed in all of the scans until they got to my carotid arteries, where they saw that my left carotid is 1/2 occluded with plaque. A piece likely broke off and traveled to the brain, causing temporary paralysis. The doctor said it was a temporary partial stroke, but if I'm not careful, it can recur.

So, the doctor gave me some prescriptions, and I'll visit her again tomorrow. I was told to take a couple weeks of work off, but I'll take 1/2 days off instead, and see how things go. It looks like I need to radically change my diet and start exercising. She said chicken and beef are okay without fat, but to avoid lamb. I'll find out more tomorrow. In the meantime, please be praying for me that I can get this problem fixed, without any recurrences. And praise God for this opportunity to catch the problem before it became really bad. If the plaque hadn't broken off, it could have become completely occluded and then the results could have been permament.


Aimee said…
Holy cow Jedidiah! I'm glad you survived that. Here's hoping a little diet change will clear everything up.

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