Lady Jewells suffered an Ischemic stroke Thursday, June 4, 2009 – at about 7:45 am.
Every summer, because summers in Arizona are so hot – I’d reverse my schedule. I’d stay up all night and sleep during the day. That Thursday morning I’d stayed up making beaded key-chains for a client in New York. About 7ish, I was forced to stop because my vision became to cloudy to see. I went to the restroomto put some eye drops in to clear my vision.
(I didn’t know it at the time, but the visual disturbance was due to my stroke. A small blood vessel in my left frontal lobe was already blocked. That blockage and subsequent lack of oxygen would cause a cell die-off. As cells died, the areasthey controlled slowly shut down.Ina matter of minutesa 1 inch burned-out area was made inside my left frontal lobe.
Scientists have determined that a left-brain stroke manifests itself physically through loss of function on the left side of the face and the right side of the body. The left brain processes language, therefore the ability to read, write, and speak may be lost or compromised. Memory is affected – though mostly its linear memory and reasoning. Linear reasoning requires an "if this, then that or cause and effect" understanding, which is used in mathematics and logic situations. Remembering one's personal information; like name, occupation and address, along with all the other data one uses to separate oneself from everyone else, are threatened by a left-brain stroke. In summary, a left-brain stroke harms linear, analytic thinking, including language centers, time concepts and one's definition of oneself, as well as leaving physical evidence behind on the right side of the body).
In the restroom, I lost my ability to think clearly. I couldn’t remember why I was in there.While I was trying toremember,the migraine from hell hit – The left side of my head felt like it imploded. I cried out in pain and steadied myself against the vanity. A wave of nausea rolled through and I gagged. I felt dizzy and fell against the wall.
I always lay on my couch when I have a migraine. The couch cushions are very supportive for my neck. So, that’s where I wanted to go. I kept thinking – if I can just get to the couch, I can lie down and sleep. I have migraines all the time, but this one was very different. The pain in my head was blinding me. I didn’t want to scare my children – so I didn’t call out for help.
(At this point - 10 years of memories are already gone. In 2009, my 17 year old daughter and her daughter live with me. However - in my mind, it's 1999 and I don't want to scare my kids, who would have been 7 and 9 years old!)
As I struggled down the hallway; the right side of my body grew sluggish and hard to manage. I’m right handed, but my right arm was numb and hung limply. I was forced to use my left side.
There was a baby-gate blocking my way to the couch and I thought – who put this up? I looked around for a stray dog, but didn’t see one. My righthand was useless – so I decided to climb over the gate. Normally, I’d step right over it – but nothing was normal about this day. In my struggle to climb overthe gate– I made a lot of noise. The noise woke upsome girl sleeping on the floor. I smiled at the girl, because she looked like an older version of my youngest daughter, Amanda. Beside her on the floor was a weird glowing object that wiggled. I managed to not step on the glowing object and get within about 3 feet of the couch before I lost the rest of the use of my right side. From 3 feet away - I lunged for the couch and I made it. It took some doing, but I got a blanket over my head to block out the morning light.
Now I tried to go to sleep, but the older girl wouldn’t let me. She kept talking at me and jostling me. She left and came back with an older woman. I smiled and felt comforted by the presence of my friend Colette, but she wouldn’t let me sleep either. I kept gesturing that I needed to go to sleep, but no one would let me sleep.
(The blockage caused cell die-off. The left side of my face drooped. Hanging-on by a thread was my ability to reason, talk, think and walk. 10 years of memories had ceased to exist, as far as I was concerned it was June 4, 1999. I was married to my second husband, a biker namedSpecs and we lived with my children, Amber (9) and Amanda (7). However, to the rest of the world – it was June 4, 2009. I was divorced and I lived with an old boyfriend Robert True (aka Bear), my longtime friend Colette, my 17 year old daughter, Amanda and Amanda’s 1 year old daughter, Maria. The older girl, who looked like my 7 year daughter, was my daughter Amanda. The glowing wiggling object was her daughter, Maria).
Then an old boyfriend, Robert (aka Bear) - whomI dated prior to marrying Specs walked in. He tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t understand anything he said. I kept staring at Bear. I wondered when he’d arrived. I didn’t remember anything about a visit. I just hopedSpecs knew Bear had come to visit or I was going to be in a lot of trouble. I guessed thatSpecs was at work, when he didn’t come-in and check on me.
Amanda called 911 and Tempe Fire Department (TFD) responded in 7 minutes. Amanda insisted they just take me and assess in route, but I wasn’t moving (I was in my nightgown and hadn't even had a bath. Not to mention the splitting headache). While other paramedics took my vitals, the lady paramedic asked me to smile for her. I guess the smile I made with my droopy face looked mean – because Amanda told the lady paramedic “You better back up – my Mom bites!” The paramedics talked among themselves - discussing my vitals.
I knew something was wrong with me, besides the migraine. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think clearly. I just wanted to sleep. I was so tired. Every time, I’d drift off, Amanda or someone else would step over and wake me up. I was getting really mad.
A male paramedic stepped towards me and told me he’d ask 4 questions – if I got them all right - I didn’t have to go with them to the hospital, but I needed to go. In my mind – I’d take a shower right after my nap. Question (1): What city do you live in? “I thought for a moment and then I slurred – Temp-ee.” Question (2): What’s your name? “I couldn’t remember my birth name and I shrugged my shoulders. But then I remembered my pen name. So I quickly slurred - Lady Jewel-lsz.” Colette confirmed and explained thatLady Jewells was my Pen Nameand my nickname. Question (3): What’s today’s date? “I smiled my droopy smile, I was so happy, I knew that one – and I slurred, "June 4th, 1999.”" Everyone just looked at me and shook their heads. The guy told the others “Load her up” as I wept.
TFD loaded me up, in my nightgown –with a towel wrapped around my head to block outthe sunlight, into their customized vehicle and headed to the hospital. (I thought we were going to Tempe St. Luke's which is 3.5 blocks from my door. When we didn’t stop after a couple of minutes - I thought I was being driven by the Laurel and Hardy Ambulance Svc), but they actually took me to Scottsdale Osborn ER , about 7 miles away. Scottsdale Osborn Trauma’s Center is among the best in AZ [Stroke Central].
Thank heavens Amanda and Colette didn’t let me go to sleep. Ibelieve their actions saved my life and reduced much of the potential damage. Somewhere during the time I spent on the couch and during the paramedics assessments, the blockage cleared. But some damage had been done. I lost 10 years worth of memories from my life, all I have are glimpses – as if someone took a 10-year photo album and dumped the pictures out and then put only part of the pictures back, without any kind of order. Instead of full paralysis on my right side, I suffered a general weakness. However, my speech was slurred, I had a blind spot in my vision field, I tire out way too easily, I couldn’t think clearly, and I was surrounded by familiar looking strangers.
PART TWO: Your stroke was caused by????? Recovery is a very humbling experience.