Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two TIA episodes. One Life.

The past eight months was quite a challenging one. Much had happened. Much had changed. But two episodes defined me. Two TIAs in seven months.

I was into boxing fitness since June of 2015. I am classified obese at 200lbs. I lost about 22lbs in three months in almost daily boxing sessions at the gym and was really elated knowing that I could really shed weight if only I am serious about losing weight.

Mid-September came my first TIA episode. Around 5pm while driving suddenly I was confused big time. Suddenly false memories kept bombarding my brain. My mind was like 110 miles per hour that I cannot remember some patches of it. In fact I could not remember the whole time I was driving the a stretch of Roxas Boulevard that Friday afternoon. I could only remember all the confusion I experienced. I was conscious, yes. But I didn't know it was dangerous. I never told Ella about it. My conscious self was telling me that it should be alright.

One of the few moments I could remember that day was I told Ella I lost my driver's license and that I may be driving without it the whole day. Ella told me that I kept on opening and closing one of the doors when I stepped down from our van. Cut the story short, we switched places.

Hours later, I noticed I had sms conversations with some friends. I had calls between 4pm and 5pm that I couldn't really remember having it. Then I became more confused. The following day, I felt so tired. Headaches kept popping on the left side of my head. Some are subtle, others are really painful. All I really wanted was to sleep. Three days later, I was doagnosed with TIA, Transient Ischemic Attack.

My lipid profile was 50% above the high borderline. BP was past 150/100. MRI showed calcified artery at my left brain which probably caused the TIA. 

Fast forward six months later and about four normal lipid profile tests, I went back to boxing. I really need to go back to the gym again. For three weeks I had like 12 full sessions and cutting about 3 lbs. I was happy. But on the third week, I told my trainor that something must be wrong with my body. I suddenly felt weakness and I couldn't finish my routines. Five days later... second TIA episode.

Monday morning, As I climb down the stairs and I remember staring at my pair of shoes. I specifically stared at the brown one and I was wondering why I have a pair of K-swisses. So I took the blue one instead as I wasn't really so sure that it was mine. Second, I took my ukulele for a strum but then I could not remember some chords. That moment, I knew something was wrong. Few moments later I find myself driving my family to Manila then the confusion peaked. As we entered the expressway, I told Ella I was confused big time and I cannot continue driving. It was not as bad as the first one seven months back, I guess. But everything seemed the same. False memories and some sms and screenshots of my neurologist's contact information in my phone.

Three days in the hospital and my neurologist told me that the boxing and the alcohol could be the culprit. My lipid profile spiked too to 5.7, however not as bad as seven months back when it was 7.8. Just a little above high normal. My cardiologist changed some of my medications and told me to strictly follow my meds schedule. Four meds, two supplements per day. Costs my family a fortune actually and it's not funny at all.

I have kids. Two of them in the pre-teens. My youngest just turned seven. It's kind of worrying me sometimes. A lot of what ifs and what nots in my mind. My wife is so supportive of me that I sometimes thought how could she deserve all of this??? They mean a load to me. They are my life. My world could only rotate around them.

It's been one month since. I look physically normal. However, I have this constant headaches specifically on the left part of my head. I have trouble remembering some details. I have trouble typing. Most of the time I had to retype because I usually mispell the words I am typing. I have trouble looking for the right words. I have trouble remembering names. I was bad at remembering names but this time it is a struggle. Takes me a few more seconds to utter the name out of my memory. My brain is in constant battle... everyday. It's traumatic.

But then my brother told me to just forget about it and live it like it is completely normal. It made sense though. Why would my life be taken away by some useless worries and negative thoughts. He reminded me that I was once an optimist so I had to be at it again. 

I read a post by one Jennifer de Vries at a facebook support page for TIA/Ischemic Stroke patients that I am a member of and it says...

""Whether you had one TIA episode or multiples, they are a form of trauma. Trauma changes one - forever..... You can live your diagnosis or live with your diagnosis. The choice is yours Jennifer." I chose the latter and have found much joy in the life I've been given. My circle of friends is tighter and smaller, I've learned to say "No", I treasure my family more than ever and I have learned self-care is the ultimate necessity, not a luxury. Be good to yourself always..."

I will be learnign to live a life with TIA for sure. But it won't take away my life. I have a loving family. I have a few friends, really good friends. I have the best support one could ever have in my wife and family and my siblings. All is good. All is well. I have a choice and I'm sure it's the best one. I only got one life. I got to live with it. God-willing, I am living a full life.