9.28.2006

Designer Diaries #3

Just need to share my journaling from Inspiration #3! If you haven't been over to Designer Diaries, you need to check it out! I love these gals and have really enjoying working with them!!! http://designerdiaries.blogspot.com

The title is...


"A Hidden Danger"

I have been an extremely healthy person most of my life. As has been the rest of my immediate family. Thankful for my health, I rarely gave it a much thought. My father & I have both suffered migraines our entire lives but still considered ourselves lucky. Little did I know we also had another similarity. One that was hidden. One we never knew was there. One that was very serious & very scary.

A week after Kennedy was born, April 2005, I got an early morning phone call from my step mom telling me my father was being rushed by ambulance to a hospital. She told me of the horrific night he had endured, how he seemed to be getting worse and worse until terrified, Jodie decided he needed to go to the hospital. But my father couldn’t move he was in such bad shape. Here is where she called 911 and my father waited for someone to help him. Being 3 hours away from my father and feeling completely isolated and helpless, I began to cry. This feeling of helplessness would continue for some time, as over the next few days I learned about my father and his condition. Apparently, my father had suffered a stroke.

Stroke is something I never gave much thought to that point. I thought it was just something that happened to the elderly. But I was so mistaken. My father, 53 years old at the time, was in the best shape he had been in years, running and working out daily. How did he have a stroke? What caused it? Why? Stroke has totally changed my life and I now know so much more about it than I wish I did.

It was excruciatingly painful to first hear my father on the phone. He hiccupped every 5 seconds non-stop for over 3 days. This did a real number on his vocal cords so he didn’t even sound like himself. It was terrifying. When I was first able to visit him, I was numb.

I watched him in therapy and I wanted to scream and cry at the same time. My father who months before was running 3 miles a day was now struggling to stand up straight without falling over and was barely able to take baby steps with a walker. He had to relearn everything; from feeding & bathing himself, to talking & walking. It was like looking in on another family’s life; it all seemed unreal.

Weeks later, I was home lifting up Kennedy after changing her diaper. I blacked out for a second and got an instant excruciating headache. When my vision cleared I realized some of it was gone. I tried to walk out of the room but was too dizzy so I handed Kennedy to Jeff. I climbed into bed to sleep off what I thought was a migraine. Those were actually 4 of the 5 warning signs of stroke, but I didn’t know the warning signs. A day later I still had vision loss so we visited the ER. For 3 months I visited doctor after doctor, had test after test, to try to determine was had happened to me. We eventually realized I had had a minor stroke caused by a blood clot entering my brain. I never knew that someone my age could even have a stroke.

So here my father and I are, 53 and 26 years old, both told we had strokes. Granted, my father’s was much more severe. Over the next few months we learned an enormous amount about our family medical history, stroke, migraine and a condition called arteriovenous malformation (or AVM). It turns out my father and I both have irregular veins in our lungs. Instead of depositing blood clots to our lungs to be dissolved, these veins runs right back into the heart. In both our cases this allowed a blood clot to pass through and enter our brains, causing our strokes. These malformations are not caused by lifestyle or age or ethnicity. They are simply gene abnormalities that cannot be cured. We both have now had surgery to plug the irregular veins to prevent any more strokes. However, we will continually monitor our lungs to watch for the growth of more irregular veins and abnormalities.

This hidden danger has plagued our family for generations. But now that we are aware of it and have a better understanding of it we can be on the offensive. It doesn’t have to be hidden anymore. And I hope our future generations do not have to suffer strokes to learn about it.
This photo still isn't the best, but you get the idea!


3 comments:

Shirley said...

GIANT HUGS! Very moving journaling....

MichelleLanning said...

Love the journaling on this Danielle -- and WOW --- I love the layout -- perfect!!!

Julie said...

Loved your journaling Danielle. Big hugs coming your way.