I’m at work, walking through the lounge on my way to the men’s room. But something odd is happening. I can’t feel my feet. It seems like I’m floating along with no need to walk. And I know that in this state, it would be easy to trip and fall. I concentrate on the walking process, arrive at my destination, and walk back a few minutes later with equal concentration.
Back at my desk, I sit and say to myself, “What the hell was that?”
I’ve never had great balance. And since the stumble I took 6 weeks ago, resulting in a cracked rib, falling has been on my mind. But I’ve never had to think about walking before, while I was doing it. What the hell was that?
I get back to work, grabbing a fistful of the paperwork that arrived in the daily mail. All is well for a few moments, but then slowly, slowly, I realize I can’t see some of the words. Something is blocking my vision. It’s not spots, or anything dark. It’s a clear, swirly current of some sort, in the corner of my left eye. Okay, this is getting weird.
As I’m puzzling over this new event, the swirly area grows larger and even spreads to my right eye. And I’m now aware of a heaviness inside my skull. No pain, just a bit of pressure, making me wonder if something big is about to happen. Thoughts of ambulances and emergency rooms enter my head.
I recall the time our handyman/electrician was taken away by paramedics after a bad fall, and his embarrassed look as he lay on the stretcher. “For cripes sake,” his eyes seemed to say, “why me? And what the hell are you lookin’ at?”
No, not for me, I think. If I leave, I’m walking out.
I look at the papers again, and if anything, the weird visuals are even weirder. I collect the paper in a neat stack, turn off my computer, and fill out a leave slip. It was almost noon anyway. I tell my boss and then my co-worker that I’m going. Neither seems concerned. In fact my co-worker asks me a final work-related question as the swirls intensify. I close my eyes tight and try to answer, then get up and leave without another word.
From my car, I call my doctor’s office, explain my symptoms to a secretary, who then transfers me to a nurse. I could have guessed how this conversation would go.
Nurse: Can someone drive you to the ER?
Nurse: Can you call for an ambulance?
Me: No. Can I please see the doctor?
Nurse: You really should go to the ER. Are you sure you can’t get a ride? You shouldn’t wait.
Me: But waiting is what I’ll be doing, for hours, at the ER. I really just want to lie down.
Nurse: So you’re not going to the ER?
Nurse: (sighing) The doctor will see you at 2:20.
As I drive myself home, I have an unworthy thought. Perhaps doctor’s offices in the future will replace nurses with trained parrots. I imagine a brightly colored bird with a tiny telephone headset. “Go to the ER, go to the ER, better go now, go to the ER. Awk!”
After a nice lunch and some rest, I drive to the doctor’s. As soon as I describe my symptoms he relaxes a bit and nods knowingly. “I think I know what this is. But first, let me test a few things.” He then goes through a battery of strange and humorous procedures, like asking me to touch his fingertips and puff out my cheeks. Then he sits down and provides the answer.
“You had a migraine,” he says. Noting my puzzled expression, he continues. “You’ve never had one before, I know. And there was no pain. But this type is called a migraine equivalent, or sometimes an ocular migraine.” He goes on to explain what might have caused it (red wine, for one) and how to treat it. Basically, find a dark room, close your eyes and wait for it to go away.
Later that day, my spinning instructor (also a nurse), has some ideas. She recommends drinking a Coke and taking two Advil, and letting the caffeine and medicine do their wondrous work.
So now I know what happened and what to do next time. It wasn’t a stroke, thank goodness. But now I wonder what other bizarre medical anomalies are in store for me. Oh, I can’t wait to find out.
If I need a ride to the ER, I’ll let you know.