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I arrived at Holy Cross around 6:45 a.m. on Friday. It wasn’t until about 7:30 a.m. that the doctor saw me. The doctor who saw me was from my shul, Kemp Mill Synagogue. He just happened to be passing by the room I was in, saw me, recognized me and asked me “What are you doing here?” I told him that I was brought in because of a possible stroke and he said, “Ok, just wait here.” A little while later a nurse came to take my vitals and not long after that the Doctor came in to examine me. I told him of the symptoms I was having and he had me do some simple things (like touch my nose, stand on my toes, etc.) He said he suspected that what I had was actually Bell’s Palsy but that it wasn’t presenting like Bell’s Palsy. I would have periods of improvement one minute and then an hour later I would get worse. So, he ordered an MRI (my first one).
I was wheeled into the MRI room around 8:30 a.m. and quickly got “loaded” into the MRI. Now, most people get claustrophobic in an MRI machine because it is so tight in there. I actually found it to be very relaxing (even with all the clicking noises that the machine makes). After about 30 minutes the MRI was done and I was taken back to the emergency room exam room where my wife was waiting for me.
About 45 minutes later the doctor comes in and says that the MRI did not show evidence that a stroke occured, however, they did find something unusual. In the brain there are structures called ventricles which contain cerebrospinal fluid that acts as a buffer against damage caused by blows to the head. In most people (or as the doctor explained it to me nearly everyone) these structures are symmetrical across both hemispheres in the brain (you can see a good reference site on brain ventricles here). In my case the lateral left ventricle was apparently blocked and the doctors weren’t sure if that was normal or if that was due to a tumor. Immediately my relief over not having a stroke that morning was replaced by the possibility that I may have a brain tumor. My anxiety level was raised just a few notches. The doctor ordered a contrast MRI to be done to determine the exact nature of the “blockage” of the lateral left ventricle.


Well, I’ve allowed for another significant gap in my blog. Oh well, I’ve been extremely busy lately…what with the high holidays and the two projects I’ve been billing against and the book and…well, you get it.
And on top of that last Friday was quite the doozy. I woke up as usual around 5:00 a.m. to get ready to go to shul and then on to work. As I was in the bathroom I was brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth with Listerine when suddenly I noticed that the Listerine was dribbling out of my mouth and I could not control it. I thought that was odd so I tried to bring my lips together to make a whistle…I noticed that the left side of my mouth would come together properly but that the right side was just open and I couldn’t really whistle. That’s when I started to worry. So, I tried a couple of other things such as closing my left eye and then trying to close my right eye. I could close my left eye completely but I could hardly, if at all, close my right eye. At that point I decided something was wrong.
I heard my wife upstairs in the living room so I went upstairs and looked at her and said “I’m having weakness in the right side of my face.” I guess I really shouldn’t have stated it quite so simply but she was extremely frightened. Weakness on one side of your body is one of the tell-tale signs of a stroke. She asked me if I wanted her to call 911 and I said “What do you think?” She decided to call 911 and told them that she thought I was having a stroke. I remember sitting down on the loveseat and saying to my wife “I’m too young to have a stroke” (I’m 38) to which she replied “No, you’re not.”
After about 10 minutes the ambulance arrived and they spoke with me. Nice guys and they looked me over. They asked me if I had weakness in the right arm of leg…to which I noted that I did not. They were unsure of what to do because I wasn’t presenting as a classic stroke case. Finally my wife said “Go to the hospital…it’s the safest thing to do right now.” So, I got into the ambulance and was taken to the hospital.
They took me to Holy Cross Hospital which is about 7 miles away.

October 2005
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