Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Weekend Gourmet is Back After a Four-Month Medical Hiatus!!

Where Has The Weekend Gourmet Been Since November?
You may have noticed that The Weekend Gourmet has been silent for the past 4 months. However, starting today...I'm officially back! I’ve been on a medical hiatus since November 11th, when I had a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) – more commonly known as a stroke – at my home. I was taken by ambulance to a hospital here in San Antonio for evaluation, where I spent the next 10 days – including three days in ICU. During this time, I couldn’t stand or walk, swallow, eat and drink, or speak in more than a garbled whisper. It was a time of uncertainty for my long-term health prognosis, but I was fortunate to have the unwavering love and support of Michael and my family – along with countless prayers.

After my hospital stay in San Antonio, I spent just over three weeks at The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation (TIRR) Memorial Hermann in Houston -- a nationally recognized rehabilitation hospital. While there, I took part in intensive physical, occupational, and speech therapies. After my time at TIRR, I returned to San Antonio in mid-December for focused inpatient rehabilitation therapy at Mentis Neuro. I remained at Mentis until March 1st. As the following video shows, my recovery journey since November has been marked by hard work in my rehab therapy sessionw, a conscious decision to remain positive and hopeful -- and infinite gratitude for my significant recovery!

Life Can Change In a Second

The afternoon of November 11th, I learned first-hand that life as you know it can change in an instant. That Saturday started like a typical weekend day for me. While Michael slept in, I went to the grocery store to pick up ingredients to make gumbo for my best friend's visit that evening. I started a load of laundry and headed to the kitchen to chop and prep the ingredients. I was literally fine one second – then it was like a switch was flipped. I suddenly experienced severe dizziness and coordination issues. I made my way to the bedroom and laid down, hoping the feeling would quickly pass. Instead, my symptoms worsened over the next hour. I became numb down the left side of my body, unable to swallow, and my speech became slurred. Michael and I quickly determined something serious was going on, so we called 9-1-1.

Getting Some Answers

The EMTs arrived in minutes, checked my vital signs, and determined I needed to quickly get to CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Westover Hills Hospital – the nearest hospital to my home – to determine whether I was having a stroke. The next few hours were a flurry of activity – medical tests, lab work, and exams -- to determine the cause of my symptoms. After an afternoon and evening of waiting and trying to stay calm, we were told that I had had a CVA and was being transferred upstairs to the ICU. The staff monitored me constantly, Michael stayed glued to my side, and my parents drove up from the Houston area to be with me that weekend. This was the most uncertain time of my recovery process. Would I walk again…talk normally again…or be able to eat my favorite foods again? I was very fortunate that my brain’s cognitive functions – my personality, memory, etc. – were not significantly impacted by my stroke. From the outset, I made a conscious decision to stay focused and positive, and to lean on the loving messages of support and prayers from friends and family near and far.

After three days in the ICU, I was transferred to a private intermediate care room for a week. My blood pressure was closely monitored – and I received medication, nutrition, and fluids via an IV. When my ability to swallow food and liquids didn’t immediately return, I opted to have a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube surgically inserted in my stomach. The PEG ensured I would receive vital nutrition via liquid formula while I took part in therapy to regain my ability to swallow and eat solid food again. During this time, we also determined I would need ongoing physical, occupational, and speech therapy for the next phase of my recovery. During research, Michael discovered that TIRR Memorial Hermann in Houston was the #2 ranked rehabilitation hospital in the nation. We immediately initiated the process to transfer there so we could be close to our families during the rehab process.

Be sure to come back this weekend for the second part of my stroke recovery journey: laying the successful foundation for a stong recovery at TIRR in Houston, continued significant strides at Mentis Neuro in San Antonio, and my ongoing outpatient fine tuning now that I'm back home with Michael and our cat Maggie. I'll also  be sharing some exciting news about a few significant changes happening at The Weekend Gourmet going forward!

Disclosure: This article describes my personal stroke recovery journey. It is not meant to be representative of every stroke patient's recovery and rehabilitation experience. I am not a medical professional, so I am not providing any official medical advice. For specific questions about stroke risk factors, stroke information, etc., please contact your personal physician.

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