My husband turns 47 today. And if he hadn't taken too much blood pressure medication last September he might not have been here to see it.
Apparently my husband was on the receiving end of some bad genes. That and his stubbornness against seeing a doctor regularly (because he never gets sick) contributed to him having the carotid arteries of an 80 year old, something even the doctors were surprised to see in a 47 year old marathoner.
Episodes of 'dehydration' he'd had in months prior (after long races) had really been TIAs (transient ischemic attacks), more aptly called 'warning strokes'. These events were characterized by weakness, numbness and somewhat blurred vision. Though short in duration, the first episode landed him in the ER after a marathon a year ago in North Carolina (where apparently they hadn't thought to do any tests that might have shown his carotid arteries were blocked).
The last episode was extraordinary. Having inadvertently taken too much blood pressure medication the night before, my husband went to work where he began having vision problems, weakness, and then suddenly lost the ability to speak. After a short rest the distressing symptoms went away. Though he felt fine afterwards, a coworker insisted that he seek medical attention. And that is how he ended up in the ER where thankfully a neurologist was able to see him and where, to everyone's surprise, he was found to have two nearly completely blocked carotid arteries. [His blood pressure had been so lowered by the medication that blood was unable to push through the narrowed carotid arteries causing the stroke.]
After surgery and a week in the ICU, my husband left the hospital with a stent ensuring blood flow to his brain. He was lucky. As his neurologist put it, without intervention there was 100% chance he would have had a major stroke somewhere (probably not too far) down the line. And little chance he would have survived without detriment.
As it is, thanks to surgery and proper medication, my husband is back to himself - working hard and running every chance he gets. Just four short months after his stroke, he ran his 37th marathon. And I'm happy to say that he's in regular rotation in various doctor offices.
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