Friday, October 30, 2009

National Cat Day :D

Now I can say I've written for the sole purpose of making a shoutout to my kitties!

Yesterday was National Cat Day (I just found out today however), and I just had to let them know the good news as soon as I got home from work this afternoon. So to Thor, Venus, Mouse and our foster kitten Oreo, today is your special day!

Thor and Venus are our oldest, a brother and sister who will be turning 4 on Dec 1st. We adopted them from a shelter and just guesstimated their birthday! They had 3 kittens together: Oscar, Chloe (later renamed Kiva by a new owner), and Bunny (who we later discovered was actually Buddy, a boy not a girl)!

We babysat Buddy for 2 months while his new owner was in Germany. In that time (while he was only about 6 months old!), he knocked up his mom and a month after he went home, she had his two babies Hugs and Mouse! Hugs went to the same owner as Buddy ended up with, and we kept Mouse. And his 2nd birthday was Sept 29!

Oreo was found wandering the streets all over town in early October, and we guessed she was around 6-8 weeks old. We took her in because she was too small to be left out in the cold since winter was on its way! Once she was eating better though, she's gotten bigger and fatter and has the glossiest fur of all of them. We still hope to find her another home before she gets much older though!

So this is our little kitty family. And this is my tribute to them for their very own Cat Day! Love ya guys!

(Please don't think of me as a crazy cat lady now, although I am crazy for these special guys! LOL)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to me! :D

Well, yesterday that is! So I'm 23 now. And its been 10 1/2 months since my stroke. I've been getting used to the schedule of getting blood tested every 2 weeks, then waiting to hear if I need a pint taken out to keep the blood cell count low. So far this week I did the bloodtest on Monday and got good news, that I can wait two weeks till the next bloodtest without getting the phlebotomy done again. So that's great, it's already starting to normalize without drugs! Yay!

I've been working more lately too, just one day last week and then 3 full days in a row this week. Hopefully I'll be getting more shifts in the coming weeks too, because I can really handle them a lot better than before! Still hoping I can hold off getting sick as well!

Anyways enough about work. I am excited that I can at least DO it, but I know its not the most exciting thing to write or read about!

Didn't do much yesterday for my b-day. After getting home from the daycare it was supper, then out with J to a meeting, and then clean the town office, then home and sit in front of the computer for a couple hours so I could get to bed at a decent time. I actually forgot to open the present my dad got me, oops! LOL! So didn't really do much, J wants to take me to the Astroboy movie that starts today sometime, other than that not much has been going on. We have been enjoying his present to me - Nip Tuck Season 5 pt. 2, I love that show. I hate that they for some reason decided it needed to be split into 2 parts though, just wanted to make twice as much from the sales I suppose. Oh well, I had to see it!

Anyhow not much more has been going on lately. So I will be back when something fabulous and interesting happens!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today, a new life begins!

This morning I got a phone call 5 minutes before my alarm went off. It was J's younger brother's wife, with the news that J's older brother's wife just had their newest baby boy early in the morning! The baby was due either the day before or after my own birthday, the 22nd. So he arrived fast this morning, so fast that the little guy was born at home and delivered by his own daddy! I can just imaging how nervous he was! She had the baby, he delivered the baby, and that's really all the news I've heard so far. Congratulations, this little guy sounds like a real handful already!

I hope that when J and I are able to start our family it happens as smoothly as this. Chances are it won't, but I can't help but to hope. Such a huge difference from her going in labor at home in the early morning and home-delivering him an hour or two later, with no real complications. When it's my turn I hope it happens as quickly as that! I will have mine totally planned, monitored, and delivered on a preset date. Not to mention that I have to be on blood thinners the whole time, injecting myself every day so it won't harm the baby. I know it is still a bit of a wait till we have to start doing that, but I've already started taking prenatals. I hope that when we start trying, that it happens right away, I switch to injected thinners, and all goes to plan. It makes me wish it was as easy as J's sister in law had it this morning. But if it was that easy, I wouldn't have much of this unique experience to share with women with blood disorders, now would I?

I just hope that when J and I finally start our family that it goes to plan, and my doctors will continue to manage everything well, and that my baby will be healthy and happy. Even if it's a long way off, I have high hopes that we will have a little cousin for the boy who was born so suddenly this morning! And hopefully this time next year, I will be writing that this is actually what has happened! I can't believe that maybe, this time next year, we can finally be expecting our own little guy or gal! Here's to hoping!

Finally, Things are Looking Up!

So all summer long I have been keeping active, a little at a time, getting strength back and thankful that cold season was far off! The whole summer went by pretty quickly, with really no big changes, just keeping on my meds and waiting for the next appointments to see where my progress was at.

I was lucky to have my mom and aunt take me on a road trip in August out to California and exploring along the West coastline, it was so beautiful and such an amazing experience! I really got a chance to enjoy myself. And I was super excited to get home afterwards to start the month of September with about 2 doctor appointments per week! (Not kidding!)

So September inevitable rolled in and a week into the month I jumped right into my long list of appointments. I met a great high-risk pregnancy doctor in Winnipeg who J and I talked to for a long time, about my blood disorder and potential effects it could have on us having kids. I know that it will be difficult, and I know that there's something like a 50% miscarriage rate for me plus the likely chance that the baby will be premature, because they might have to deliver it before the 40 weeks is up (more like 36 weeks, so a month premature). I will have a very well monitored pregnancy, probably get lots and lots of ultrasounds, and I can't just wait till the baby's ready to come out, I will have to be off the blood thinners for a day or so before they induce me. I suppose we might even get some say in the date the baby is born!

It was a tough appointment, but at least J was there with me to support me. And me for him I guess. We are still sure we want to have a child of our own, even though it will be difficult and there aren't many cases like mine to use as a reference. The soonest we can start trying to start our family will be in February or March, because the doctors want to wait at least a year since my stroke and make sure the blood clots in my brain are cleared up and I'm off any medication that would be bad for the unborn baby. This is why I hope to share every experience I have in this big adventure called life, so anyone who might go through this after me has something to look at as an example.

So that was one of my many appointments that month. I saw it as a good thing, and at least we have some kind of timeline as to when we can make this next step! I met with my hematologist who had refered me to the pregnancy doctor, and he immediately cut my dose of Hydrea in half, because I'm pretty much normalized now and he wanted to see if I could manage my blood counts with more natural methods instead of these chemo drugs. This means more blood tests more often, but I am willing to do those rather than take the nasty pills that kill my immune system and cause such awful fatigue! I am also glad to be weaning off of them because I was told that because of my age (22), and the potency of the Hydrea, every year I continued to be on the drug I was increasing my risk of developing leukemia by 1%. So this is another reason I am relieved to be off of such powerful drugs.

After that appointment I had another MRI done and wasn't expecting the results for another month. I continued to take my half-dose of Hydrea (one pill in the morning rather than one in the morning and one at night). Two weeks after my dose was cut in half, I got a blood test done to see if the levels had increased. I got a call a couple days after that to set up an appointment to get blood taken out (phlebotomy), which is what I have to do now instead of taking the Hydrea. So on Friday last week I went in to get a pint of blood taken out of my arm, 500ml or 2 cups. That's a lot of blood! They set it up just like a blood donation kind of thing, I lay on the cot and got the huge needle in my arm and bled out into a little baggie for about 15 minutes. My blood can't be used for anything, so it gets labelled as medical waste and disposed of. Yep, my blood cells are too mutated and underdeveloped to be used for anything good. But that's OK. At least it keeps me from taking strong chemotherapy capsules, and if I have to give blood every 2 weeks like that to stay healthy then so be it.

So I got the blood taken out of my arm last week on Friday for the first time, I get another blood test next week Monday and then possibly blood out again that Friday again. Every 2 weeks at first until it starts to normalize itself. I finally went in for my MRI results, and got the good news that the clot in my head that went undiscovered for over 2 years is now gone! I was so excited to hear that, because I had read that sometimes a clot can become permanent and the blood vessels just find another path around it. That was something I was prepared to accept, but hearing that it has cleared up now was even better news! While I was at the MRI followup, the doctor took me off of the Acetazolomide as well. Since I was only on it to keep the pressure down in my head, and now the clots are both nearly gone, I don't need to take it anymore. This was great too, and within 5 days I was completely off of those pills. Now after not drinking carbonated drinks for the last 10 months, I don't really want to start up again, however it's nice to know that they won't taste terrible anymore! That was a main side effect of Acetazolomide, that it changes the taste of certain things, especially carbonated drinks.

In the same week, I was taken totally off of the Hydrea. So basically for the last week I have only had to take an aspirin in the morning, and my blood thinners at night, and that's it! So wonderful to be off of most of the meds and getting back to my normal, healthy self.

This really catches up to the present time. Today I sit here at my computer, with a slightly upset stomach (an effect of weaning off the Hydrea), with more energy than I've had in months. I have a paper that lists my blood tests every 2 weeks for the next month, and then we will see how things are doing, if I'm managing without the Hydrea well enough to just have blood drawn that would be teriffic! I have started working out again and plan to get a gym membership and start running again, slowly getting back into the shape I was in this time last year. One day at a time I am feeling more and more like myself. And that's a great way to feel.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Polycythemia Vera

So, what is a Myeloproliferative Disorder? Wikipedia says they are a group of diseases in the bone marrow where excess cells are produced. In my case, I had been diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera. Poly-sy-theme-ee-uh Vera. Since I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and not a lot of energy, I had the opportunity to get to know my disease quite well by looking all over the Internet for information on it.

PV causes my red blood cells to multiply really, really fast, causing my blood to get too thick and raise the risk of clots, stroke and heart attack. I already knew that last part, after being hospitilized from my own stroke and two blood clots in the brain. So perhaps it was less scary for me than for someone who hasn't gone through those things but was still at high risk for it.

It is most common in men over 60, but I have been in touch with others who are younger, some in their teens, who have the same diagnosis. Knowing this, I also found that the average lifespan after getting diagnosed and treated is 10-20 years. Now I know this is nothing to be alarmed about. Just think, if on average you get diagnosed at 60, then another 10-20 years after that is pretty normal. I don't see any reason for my lifespan to be any less than normal either. But I do understand how it looks scary if you don't put those two facts together.

I know that when I was first brought into the hospital I had a high count of red blood cells, as well as platelets and white blood cells. This is pretty common with PV as well. The Hydrea I was taking was to lower the counts of all these cells. I also take blood thinners to keep my blood 2-3 times thinner than an average person's, and an Asprin a day to make the blood less sticky.

I have a team of doctors who keep an eye on my results. My family doc in the next town over, a neurologist in a town an hour away where I go for MRI's, and a Hematologist in Winnipeg who is awesome and spends all the time I need to get my questions answered. He referred me recently to a High-Risk pregnancy doctor so I can get an idea of when, eventually, having a child might be possible. At this point I will probably be waiting another 4-6 months before any progress is made about THAT!

My doctors are great, so far they have all been really easy to get along with and knowledgable about my disease. I think I've been pretty lucky so far that the doctors and I are on the same page when it comes to treatment.

At first, I was not allowed to get a lot of activity, and had to take it slow so I didn't overexert myself. It was pretty disappointing to walk up the stairs and be out of breath, or be walking in a store and have to slow down or sit because of the fatigue. But after another month or so I was allowed to try to get back in shape, and basically started from scratch to get stronger and have more energy to move around.

In the spring, I think it was March or April, I got a casual job at the daycare in town, and worked once or twice a week. It was great, I still work there and just have so much fun playing with all the kids and pushing them on the swing. I know that working there has done a lot for my strength and endurance. It has, however, shown me how poor my immune system was on those pills, because after an 8-hour shift I'd end up sick with no voice for a week!

Another side effect of the pills I was taking was that with blood thinners, you usually get poor circulation, so my hands, feet and even nose would constantly fall asleep. I was fortunate though that I didn't get itchy legs after taking a hot shower, which is really common with PV. So I considered myself lucky to only have the symptoms I did have, which were improving as my body adjusted to the medication.

So I looked forward to a healthier summer, getting my strength back and getting used to living with a blood disorder.

A Long Journey Home

December 30 I was released from the hospital, and quickly we headed back home which was a good 5 1/2 hour drive away. I was on some new meds which made me incredibly thirsty so I chugged a good 2 litres down during that drive.

We got to the little town where we were renting a house and I went straight to bed, exhausted. J started packing a few things into the truck, so we could leave the next day for the 12 hour drive across Saskatchewan into Manitoba where we had decided to move in with his mom for the time being. Thankfully all the necessary things we needed fit into the truck, along with us and our 3 cats. We had a roommate living in the house with us to keep an eye on the rest of it until we could get a moving van to haul it all back with us a couple weeks later. So the next day (New Years Eve), we headed out on the long trip hoping to get there at a decent time.

We probably would have, too, if I didn't need to drink so darn much water, we stopped at every single gas station along the way just so I could take a bathroom break! I drank 3 litres of water during the 12 hour drive.

My new medication included Acetazolamide, which was to help with the pressure on my eyes, and was also a diuretic. Warfarin, the blood thinner in pill form that I will be on for the rest of my life. And Hydroxyurea (Hydrea), a pill form of chemotherapy to keep my blood counts normal. All of these caused a lot of fatigue on top of the fact that I'd just spent 3 1/2 weeks with no activity lying in a hospital bed. So I was a pretty tired gal for awhile!

We made it to J's mom's house at 11:50pm. Just before the official New Year began. I didn't stay up till midnight, I was too tired after the long drive, but I did say to myself, that this year would only get better from that point on.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Learning a Big New Word

Finally it was time to have Christmas up in my hospital room (which was shared with 3 other stroke patients). Actually it was kind of fun, J came to visit as soon as they allowed, we had lunch on my cot, and shortly after that who came for a visit but the big man himself! Santa came by and handed us a couple of little reindeer-beanie baby type toys that I thought were pretty cool. J apped a pic of me and Santa before he left! It was cute.

I was happy to have celebrated with my aunt and mom a couple days before Christmas, because they had to leave to get back to Manitoba for work etc after the two weeks they spent with me. And at this point I was getting a day pass to explore Calgary a little every day. (And no more laxatives!)

J and I spent a lot of time at the Chinatown area, went out for dinner, visited my cousin from Edmonton, another cousin and his fiancee a couple days later, and really tried to enjoy ourselves after all that time being sick and miserable in the hospital. Unfortunately my eyesight was so poor that I couldn't see the mountains in the distance from the city, but I did see a lot while we were out in the malls and looking for nice Christmas lights up and down streets.

I think it was around Dec 27 that I finally got my diagnosis from the doctor. I had never heard the term before: Myeloproliferative Disorder. Now this was a word I'd get to know a lot better in a very short amount of time, because for me, not knowing what I'm in for is simply NOT an option!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pokes and Pills and... Potty?

At this point I was in serious need of a diagnosis. What could cause this in someone my age? It was not pleasant going through the process of getting a blood test every 6 hours, and my arms were getting pretty bruised up from all the poking around. Not to mention the constant IV feeding into the back of my left hand. I didn't take a single shower on my own the entire time I was in the hospital.

One day was so much like all the rest that it got to be hard to keep track of time. I was at least happy to be able to choose my own menu each day from the offered hospital food, which was pretty good! I got quite attached to their vegetarian chili. Mmm!

The constant battery of tests kind of got to me too. MRI's, an ultrasound that I slept through and didn't even know about until later. One afternoon I had my normal 1pm vial of blood taken out, half an hour later they took 3 more vials, and 15 minutes after that another vial. I was not in the best mood by the time that third nurse came by with the little rubber tie-off for my arm... The next thing I found out was that I was going to have a bone marrow aspiration. Now I'd heard about those ones. They drill into your hip and take a chunk of the spongy stuff inside your bones out, and I'd also heard it was not a nice experience. So the days went by and finally the doctor came in and did what she could to freeze where that huge needle was going, which by the way was NOT enough! Longest 30 minutes ever! Now I know I'm a wuss for pain, how on earth do I think I'm going to handle having a kid??? Well anyways when the ordeal was over with I was telling J how I'd love to see what the bone marrow looks like, since I had to go through all that just to get it out. A nurse heard me and gave me a quick look, this little brownish twig in their tube before they rushed it off to get tested. So that was that fun day.

While waiting for the results of the bone marrow, I was given the news that on Christmas Eve I'd get a day pass to leave the hospital. I was off of the Heparine IV and taking warfarin tabs by that time, so I just had to be back by 9pm to take that pill. I was pretty excited about just getting to leave the hospital, BUT the nurses had a surprise for me first. They wanted me to load up on laxatives on the 23rd, so I wouldn't have a real upset stomach the day I got to go out. So I took what they gave me and... nothing. So they gave me more. Still nothing. So they tried a different type... Still nothing. Took some more. And again, nothing. Went to sleep that night and didn't feel any different in the morning, so they gave me some more... and finally I felt 'something'. Darn those different shifts the nurses have to work: I had probably taken around 5 doses of different laxatives, and then when they finally started to kick in I took off for my first Day Pass. SOOOOO... we kinda stuck around the hotel that day!

Still, it was nice just to get out and see differently-colored walls for the first time in nearly 3 weeks.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

So, what's the deal with this stroke thing?

I am sure each stroke is different for each person. I am sure my experience for example, is not the same as someone in their 70's who goes through the same thing. And I'm definitely sure that I was lucky to already have been in the stroke ward of a damn good hospital when this happened to me.

That being said, the first day or two after 'allegedly' having my stroke, I didn't feel too different. I was kept on my heparine to thin my blood to keep things from getting any worse, J came to see me as often as they would allow, I waited for my sister and later my mom and aunt to drive all the way from Manitoba to see me, and I basically rested a lot to help with the horrible headache I still had.

Has anyone read the Terry Goodking novel Chainfire? Basically this spell is cast that makes a girl lose all memories of herself, and any idea of who she is or the people in her life is completely erased. I thought of this book in the first few days after my stroke and I felt like I knew just how that girl felt. Slowly, like a fire burning everything in my brain away, starting with the bigger things like sight and reading, and little trails of fire burning the little details like how to understand words with more than one syllable and even J's name disappeared from my mind. It was a process that I could just feel happening. There were a few details that I wanted to hold close to me and not forget, like my brother's birthday on Dec. 16, that by repeating to myself every hour or so I was able to keep it from getting burned away. One night when J was saying goodnight, I told him I think I am going to forget you tomorrow. Sure enough, the next day he came and I of course knew who he was but could not pronounce his name. We usually call eachother Honey or Hon though, and that stayed.

My sister arrived and I remembered her name. Actually I used her name in place of other peoples' names and also inserted her name randomly into every sentence I spoke. So I told her later, that she should feel special because she was my most favorite person that week.

My mom, aunt and brother arrived shortly after my sister. At that point I couldn't speak much at all, but I remember when my Aunt gave me a hug one night I smelled her perfume and sounded out the name of it: Ex-cla-ma-tion! She has always worn that since I was little, and the smell really stood out in my damaged mind. Some cousins living nearby also came to visit but at the time I was in too poor condition to really speak to them or remember the visits. I did a lot of sleeping whenever there was a gap between visitors.

My brother's birthday was coming up and he decided to go back to Manitoba to celebrate his 18th with his friends there. He thought I would be upset but I understood. I was actually happier that he didn't have to come in and see me sick, but he had a little bit of fun while the rest of us stood vigil. The morning of the 16th the nurse came and asked me what date it was, and (I could not say two-digit numbers) I told her One - Eight. She looked at my mom and aunt and they understood, it was the 16th but it was my brother's 18th birthday. That was one of those things I had told myself NOT to forget when I was losing everything else. He phoned me later that day and I (tried to) said Happy Birthday! I know that even now he still feels bad for not being with me, but I say to him, I would rather know that he was out being happy on his 18th than being miserable in a hospital room with his sick big sis. I am glad he went back and had a good time, the next day he called me and told me all about how he went to the strippers for the first time and his first stripper was a midget! (Or little person!) So we both had a good laugh about that.

So about a week after my stroke I had forgotten how to speak, read, write, and my sight was horrible because of all the pressure the clot was putting on my eyes. The right side of my body and the left side of my face were also completely numb, which was a really odd feeling. My right hand gave me a lot of trouble, have you heard of the movie Idle Hands? Well my hand would grab onto anything within reach and hold on tight, and I had no control over it whatsoever. It liked to reach across my body and grab the left rail of my cot while I was sleeping, and I'd wake up and basically be holding myself down on my cot and have to use my left hand to pry the right fingers open to let go. It got very annoying and frustrating, but is kind of funny to think back on now!

A side note: months later I read in a magazine (for seniors no less) that losing your thoughts like I did, your speech and writing skills is called Aphasia. So now I have a name for what happened to me. It usually happens when your stroke affects the left side of your brain and therefore the right side of your body.

It took about another week for everything to start coming back. In the time in between, although I couldn't really understand anything, I 'told' myself that I did not want to forget just what it feels like to be completely wiped clean of any memory or thought. J would sit with me and try to get me to say his name: Jason. I'd get out the J part, then get lost. Jay-den. Jay-ben. Jay-yen. Like I said, anything with multiple syllables was overwhelming to me. At least he was patient!

J brought me some magazines to read, or at least practice on. I had too much trouble at first, the cover read Fat To Fit and I just could not sound out a single word. But later with him there I asked him what each letter sounded like. Fffff-ahhh-ttttt. I tried that one word for about a week before I could finally say it, and then I felt so proud! Finally I was able to read the little paragraphs inside, you know an inch of text with about 50 words, and with him there to sound out the hard ones I could finally read again. Part of the problem was of course my eyesight which actually took until about June or July to come back though.

The big breakthrough came when one morning I decided to try to write in a journal someone had brought me, and I wrote three pages about the plane ride and peeing on the floor. It was sloppy with bad spelling but I did it. J came in and saw me sitting there writing, and he was so surprised and happy that I was doing this even on my own! One step to getting better!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Looks like it's going to be a long winter...

While I was in the hospital, I was so drugged up on painkillers that I can't really remember most of what went on. I was only in the hospital for a few days before they decided to move me to the stroke unit in Calgary, just in case... I was fortunate that they moved me when they did, because I really ended up in the right place at the right time!

It was Dec. 9 when I went into the Medicine Hat hospital. Dec. 11 very, very late at night when we hopped into a little 2-engine plane for the ride to Calgary. At the hospital there they got me up into the stroke ward the morning of the 12th, took me off my heparine drip to do a test a night or two later, ane by that time I was coherent enough to know a little of what was going on. Thank goodness J was with me though! He was so worried, but I told him that I trusted what was happening, and what better place could I be at than right where we were? On the elevator ride down to the MRI room I really 'decorated' the wall and floor of the elevator. Still wasn't keeping food down by that point. I went into the MRI room, got strapped in, and fell asleep and don't remember anything until I woke up a few hours later in my hospital bed upstairs again.

Now, at this point I felt a little strange. Not sure what was different, but something was wrong. I stood up to make my way to the bathroom and realized my heparine drip was plugged into the wall. I tried to pull it out so I could get to the toilet on time, and my right arm was not working right and I fell onto the floor. A nurse heard me and came to see what was going on. I told her, I needed to get to the bathroom, but she wanted to get me back into the bed. She was trying to tell me to stand back up, but my entire right side was not functioning, and the end result was that I made a mess on the floor and never made it to the bathroom after all! It never crossed my mind that I had had a stroke.

After getting cleaned up I fell right back asleep until J came to see me in the morning. After having it confirmed that I had had an acute stroke the night before, I had no idea what to expect from the days and weeks to come. Not to mention: finding out why this happened to a fit, healthy 22-year-old? This kind of thing you only read about happening to other people, right?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First, let me introduce myself.

OK, so until recently I thought I had no story interesting enough to share with the world. Not that I am a boring person, not at all! Just that every day me going through life happily and carefree doesn't make a good tale to tell!

Now however, in the past months and weeks a lot has happened to make me want to get out a little and talk about what has happened, will happen, and may yet happen in the future. I suppose that's better reading material, although I am still no less happy and carefree!

My name is Megan, I am 22 and live in Manitoba, Canada. Actually will be 23 in 3 weeks. I am married since August last year and have 3 cats (plus one who we took in off the street and have yet to find a home for... I'm a sucker for cats!)

I work a casual job at a daycare where I get fewer hours than I would like, but that's no big deal. I like to spend the time off reading Terry Goodkind and Laurell K Hamilton books, exploring the fabulous Internet and travelling, generally spending time outside (in nice weather that is).

When I think back on what I was doing this time last year, I had been working at a gym and started taking the steps to get into teaching fitness classes, started running, then moved to hiking as work took us West to more mountainous places. After being just recently married, J and I were excited to pack up our kitties and head out for work in Alberta and enjoy living out that way for awhile. Unfortunately that only lasted 4 months before a random hospital visit and subsequent 3 1/2 week hospital stay sent us home to Manitoba earlier than we ever wanted.

Let me explain: I have always had headaches. Since age 7 I have known what a migrane was. Then in May of 07 I had the mother of all headaches and went into the hospital, knowing it was NOT a normal thing, this was something different, something bigger. However J and I were the only ones who believed this, and the massive blood clot in my brain was not discovered until much, much later.

Fast forward to December 08. (A few weeks after my 22nd birthday, yes it is hard to believe it hasn't even been a year yet.) J and I decided to spend his day off work in Medicine Hat, although I felt miserable after a particularly bad headache - now the blood clot that had at that point still not been found, and had caused me an awful headache every day for the past year and a half... fun! So we went to Medicine Hat, I felt sick and stayed in our truck most of the time, and even ended up rolling down the window while driving a few times to get sick out the window. Bleh! We decided to stay the night in a hotel in case I was still sick the next day, since the way home was nearly 2 hours away.

Next morning: Still sick, so we rushed to the hospital and sat in the walk in clinic which was surprisingly quick, told the Dr that I had a headache, throwing up, all that jazz, and were actually sent to emergency. Why, I wondered? But I felt too sick to ask questions. Good thing we got to Emergency quickly, because we sat and waited about 15 minutes and I started to black out. I got up and wove my way to the nurses' desk and told them, I need to get in NOW, or I won't be conscious. They got me in. For me though, walking down the hallway to see the doctor is all I can remember, because after that point it all went black. J was there though and said the Dr's had seen this before and thought they knew what was going on. I was quickly hooked up with a Heparin drip and sent for an MRI, where they found the old blood clot as well as a nice big new one, and I was lucky to have made it before anything worse happened. Unfortunately though things were going to get worse before they got any better.

I believe though, that this is long enough for tonight. Thank you, anyone, for reading a bit of my story!