After my third visit to the hospital in three days, I was home and suddenly everything changed. So off to the hospital for a 4th time.
A little bit about Steve
November 28, 2015. The day my life changed forever. It had been a rough couple of years. My dad’s partner passed away from ALS in 2014. My sister-in-law, Carrie, was also very sick, at the time, battling triple negative breast cancer. She passed away in January of 2015. As promised, my wife, Peggy and I became guardians of her 2 children Ryan aged 15 and Sophie 11, at the time, joining our own two children Bailey aged 17 and Emma 13. They had all grown up within a stone’s throw of each other, so it seemed natural. Inside, I was dealing with my own issues, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and being 40 pounds overweight.
Instead of listening to my doctors, health providers, family, friends and my body, I took my own path and just plugged away, ignoring it all.
The brain injury
Then, came that fateful weekend of November 27th. Something wasn’t right. I had some strange pains in my body, numbness on my right side, and very severe sinus pain. We decided to go straight to the hospital on the way home from the cottage. The hospital ran some tests, checked my heart and couldn’t find anything from their initial investigation. They gave me some meds for the sinus pain and sent me on my way. I had a very sleepless night. There was no change in the morning so we went back to the hospital. Again, another round of tests, all of which showed nothing to be concerned about. They thought I might have had a reaction to the meds they prescribed for my sinuses, so they gave me some new meds to take home.
After the 3rd visit to the hospital in 3 days, I was at home and suddenly everything changed. The sinus pressure was gone, the body pains gone but the numbness was still there. The other change was that I couldn’t swallow anything, food, water, saliva - nothing. Maybe it was my body telling me, “STOP IT!” So off to the hospital for the 4th time. This time they ran some other tests and discovered my blood sugar was 21 when it should be around 7. I was admitted, MRIs, feeding tube, oxygen, etc. At this point, I was unable to walk, too weak and tired. Tests came back indicating I had suffered a brain-stem stroke which had caused neuropathy on my right side and inability to swallow.
The next 3 weeks were spent trying to learn to walk again and slowly learning the ability to swallow. First thick liquids, then thinner ones and then some mushy food.
Symptoms that remain
To this day, I still have difficulties swallowing some foods and saliva and I still experience some neuropathy on my right side. I consider myself lucky and blessed to be back to the capacity that I am. It could have been a very, very different outcome. I now have better control over my blood sugar, blood pressure and strain on my body. I have also lost around 25 pounds. I like to joke around and often tell others that I want to get back to my original weight, 5lbs 11 ounces. Peggy and I have separated but we still keep in touch, share the cottage and spend time with the kids.
I have a couple of passions that I try to take part in when I can such as going to concerts and travelling. Sometimes I combine both and it helps check off items on my bucket list. My favourite artists are Pearl Jam, Post Malone, The Tea Party, Imagine Dragons, U2 the Black Pumas and the late George Michael. As far as travel spots, I have visited: Hawaii, Cuba, the UK, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and I have also visited my relatives in Hungary. On my travel bucket list, you’ll find Poland, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Iceland, Greece, to name a few. The artists that I plan to see are Robert Plant, Black Pumas, Metallica, Kings of Leon, Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine and of course more of the above.
A word of advice to other survivors
You will get used to the new normal and your body will find a way to endure. There is a definite appreciation for even the little things. For me, a chance to pursue two of my passions - traveling and going to see live concerts. Although my marriage did not survive, my relationships with my ex and kids are still very strong. Live life as you want to because you might not get a THIRD chance.
My participation to Cycle Ibiza
When I heard about SameYou and read Emilia’s story, I had to jump at the chance to participate in the cycling event in Ibiza. I believe we need to share our experiences, not only to network but also to assist research on finding common threads in what we experienced, the symptoms, the side effects, our triumphs and our milestones. I would love to have a panel discussion at some point to gather information that the medical folks did not know about or deemed to be pertinent information at the time of our individual journeys. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone at the event.
Support Steve during Cycle Ibiza