It was a regular afternoon on October 19th 2010, just like any regular afternoon … except that it would be the start of something that would change my life …
I had woken up later than usual (past 12 noon) and was on the family dining table working on my laptop, alongside my sister on hers, while waiting for our dad to make lunch. It had been near two in the afternoon, and I had strangely not taken any "breakfast" before then, and was extremely famished! I remember prepping a blog-post for the WIP sculpt of The Yellow Dino x My Tummy Toys collabo figure, and leaving it to publish laters right after lunch. It was to be the last thing I had seen on the computer browser for at least one plus month.
We had then cleared the table for lunch soon afters. The moment my bowl of soup noodles got put down, I had felt a sudden piercing headache. This did not seem as different sensation than before, but nevertheless painful and extreme. I had then gone to the kitchen and grabbed a couple of Panadol aspirin pills, and popped them immediately.
The moment I came back to the living room area (where the dining table was, go figure), I had felt a sudden cold sweat and sensation enveloping me ~ the sensation is liken to that of the moment you know you have "flu", and when goosepimples breakout all over your body.
I sat down, and in a split-second, I ended up cradling myself on the sofa, and telling my folks I wasn't feeling very good. Both my dad and sis took turns to check my forehead for temperature. Know that at that point, no one (including myself) knew what was happening to me. The first thing that actually came into my mind, was that I had an allergic reaction to the aspirin I gulped earlier, although I had previously taken them with no reaction at all whatsoever. (Months later, during a clinic consultancy and check up, the doctor said an allergic reaction would not have been so immediate after taking the pills).
In a mere span of (about) 5 minutes, I had gotten from perfectly normal, to sick as a dog. And as I laid cradling myself even more on the sofa, we knew something was getting really wrong. By this time, my head was beginning to spin a bit, so it was prudent if I made my way, post haste!
We had decided to go to the neighborhood Accident & Emergency (A&E) at Changi Hospital to check what was wrong with me. At this point I had still mobility by my side, although I struggled to put on my olive green tee (with a yingyan Mickey Mouse logo out front), and slipped on a pair of grey bermudas over my shorts. My limbs were beginning to ache and had trouble getting dressed, if only a tad.
Calling a taxi-cab via phone, we went out of the house, including dad and sis. Mum was stilll at work, and i remembered saying not to call her until everything is sorted. No point getting everyone worked up for this, yeh?
It has begun to drizzle outside. "What a great day to be sick!", I'd thought. Having a nap amidst the rain after filling my hungry-belly with a bowl of hot noodle soup, would've been a great notion indeed! The day seemed normal enough, and the perks of being self-employed (besides the abject lack of self-security and ability to nuture or mate), was that I was the master of my own time and schedule, and hence "life", innit?
Ironically, just before leaving the house, I had asked for an empty plastic bag to be brought along, as I had felt a tad "puke", what with the head-spinning and all (A plastic bag is also a near-perfect accompaniment to being drunk :p). In a span of about 10 minutes, I had reached the bottom of my flat (I live on the second floor with my family) and my headspinning by then had gotten really out of control. I no longer could stand up straight, and had to be carried on both sides by dad and sis, into the cab. "Man, that's some powerful spoilt aspirin!", I hadsurmised, amidst the by-now massive head-spins.
I remembered very briefly the journey itself to the hospital. Everything sped by as fast as my headspin, and I could barely puke into the plastic bag even tho I was dizzy as heck. At that point I was thinking this was getting to be a bad trip, but that it'll be over shortly, and I could get back to lunch (hey, I was famished!) and as well publish Yudi's toy (hey, info needs to get out there, and as well I was so proud of Yudi himself for the toy! LOL).
I was told later the cab driver had sensed something was wrong, and had driven promptly and safely quick to my destination (I thank him from the bottom of my heart for reacting appropriately). The ten minutes' journey ended as soon as it begun.
By the time we had reached the car-landing porch of A&E at Changi, I could not longer walk and had to be wheeled in via wheelchair (they line up a series of them by the entrance, just in case for any emergencies - worked well for me tho!). Seems the "adventure" has just started, as the wait at A&E is a wholly different situation!
I did not know how long exactly I sat in my wheelchair for the duration of waiting to see a doctor. I remember clasping unto the empty plastic bag for dear life, while puking water into it. By then the headspins were continuously 180* and the dizziness made me puke, and remember, I had not have eaten anything before then? Nothing to puke out except water!
I was told later, folks clutching tissues to their runny noses, went in before me. "Emergency" my ass! Sitting and waiting at the waiting area, I had by then become extremely scared and worried. By this time, my vision was getting blurred. I could perhaps make out shapes in front of me, but could no longer recognized their faces. From this point, I was freaking out. "Fuck! This is not getting any better anytime soon! Where's the goddamed doctor?"
In my blurred side-vision, I could see someone coming over by my side, and asking me for my name and I/C number, for which my first thought-reaction was; "WTF! I'm drooling into a bag hung from my fucking face and you're asking me for my fucking name?" ~ I garbled a few words and sentences (amidst drooling of course) and recognized at that time, my speech wasn't that clear. Freak out much?
Sis raised her voice at the person and threatened him with the responsibility of my sickeness, and I was promptly wheeled in for "consultation" shortly afters. I remember at that point I was majorly freaked out, and had indeed by then feared for my life. I remember asking my sister to cremate me when I die, as I was being wheeled in. THAT was how fearful and freaked out I was then.
I recognized later that the person was no doubt trying to authenticate my level of sickness and ability (or so I surmise) and that he probably had a form to fill and needed to update the doctors. Nevertheless I could never really forgive him for his lack of "EQ" or being able to assess my abilities straight up.
SIDENOTE: If at a A&E and you are indeed in need of being attended to, MAKE NOISE. Get the attention you NEED. "Politeness" might get you a smile and "thank you" back, but fucked if it'll get you looked at promptly. I am not at an A&E to shop for tasty chocolates or buying a cup of over-priced beverage, but if the person/s before me with runny noses are getting looked at instead of a truly sickened individual scrunched up on a wheelchair, then someone definitely needs to be yelled at.
In the consolation room, I was asked a serious of questions I now no longer can remember either the questions or the answers to. EVERYTHING had become extremely blurry then, on top of the room spinning (when in fact the room did not spin, but was my visual senses instead). I remember being wheeled back-lying-down-flat to different rooms, and even at one point waited outside a particular room for quite sometime. Very drama! Like hospital shows (but without the clarity to see the ceiling lights, so wasn't that "drama" actually…). Besides recognizing later I was put into a wrong operating / consultation bed (they moved me twice), I have zero recognition of what had happened the 24 hours later, even until now.
I was told later, a doctor appeared to both my dad and sis and told them that I was in observation, with the next 72 hours critical (if it was 48 hours, I was fucked bad), in such it would either mean resolution, or an operation cutting into my brain with an undesirable rate of recovery (or sumsach like that). They were told I was suffering from Stroke.
Until then, none of us expected what I had, although my dad had his suspicions.
Know that in Stroke, the basic reality is either [A] blood going up to the brain had been stopped at a point, and the functions in that area are affected and they react (hence lack of balance, speech and vision aka the symptoms I had experienced), or [B] blood going up to the brain has been blocked and the veins had burst - which would have left me immediately well fucked and drooling with aplomb.
The headache was the only symptom leading up to it. I remember eons ago when my master-hand might "freeze" for a moment or two, which got better immediately after massaging it ~ which no one could attest if that was a symptom though. It was discovered soon afters that I had a deadly combo of High Blood Pressure, High Cholestral, and a newly discovered (mild) Diabetes, which helped do me in.
I had just recently turned 41 years old in September, and had the time of my life in both Thailand before then, and somewhat "celebrated" in Jakarta on the day of the birthday (Chocolate & Cheese-Melt on Toast, anyone?). Man, health-karmas' a bitch huh? :p
This blog is named "Stroke41", to honor that particular timeline, and to remind me personally of the time period. In a lot of ways, the "best" "birthday present" I could have received, besides the obvious hurdle to my life and habits.
People tell me now I had suffered a "mild" Stroke, and that I was "lucky". In my earlier days, I would've told them to go "fuck themselves", but now, I thank my graces for the ability of limited motor-functions, and as well being able to eat and talk - none of which I possessed true control of, when I woke up shortly at the Acute Stroke Unit, in Ward 18, Changi General Hospital.