Struggles with being ill

This is just a 'me' post. To get the background you need to check out my carotid artery dissection original post. It's now 3 weeks and 2 days since my initial headache and I'm struggling. Yesterday my head almost felt ok, all I had was a vaguely 'hungover' malaise but a definite improvement on previous days. I felt a little bit of optimism, a sense that it was going to get better, that I was, in fact, getting better.

Today, though, I woke early (as is usual for me), did lots of stuff, wrote a blog post but felt slightly off. My head was fuzzy and I found it hard to write, looked at words and had no idea whether they were spelled correctly or not. I was tired after limited screen time and couldn't focus my head or my eyes. Later in the day, my left eye started to feel heavy and when I looked in the mirror, I could see that the droopiness linked to the horner's syndrome had come back. ( A strong sign of my carotid artery dissection originally).
I was reading on my FB support group that a CAD can be classified as a mild traumatic brain injury and there can be lots of issues for some time after it happens.

It's hard to describe the 'brain fog' I have right now, everything seems difficult - I'm doing all my normal stuff on autopilot to some degree but anything that requires forward planning or schedules or any kind of complicated thought, seems impossible to me. And I panic. Panic at the thought that I'm not at my usual level of intelligence, panic that I won't be able to cope with work or things in the future. And most of all, I desperately miss my Dad. Maybe it's just the timing, that his death is really sinking in now - or perhaps it's that I feel vulnerable and Dad was always one of those solid calm people who would make you feel that everything would be ok. I could really have done with him right now.

I hate to feel vulnerable at the best of times and coupled with that is a kind of bewilderment. I don't really know what's going on inside my brain. I don't think the droopy eye is a bad sign necessarily but everything that goes wrong makes me terrified of having a stroke. I was incredibly lucky not to have had a stroke in the first place and it almost feels like I'm cheating fate. I sneezed today and actually waited for some awful consequence. I worry about stretching to put things on a high shelf , twisting to look behind me in the car, lifting anything. Craziness for someone like me, who takes pride in being strong. Today though, I'm not feeling strong.

And funnily enough, I'm sure I look and seem totally normal. I've been experimenting with hairstyles and painting my toenails and doing endless frivolous things to distract me from the fear and the pain and the lonely feelings and possibly look more rested than usual so I don't think that I look like someone who is ill at all!

Right now I'm tired again so going to sign off but if you do get to read this, thanks for listening and it's been pretty good therapy to write it all down :)
Back to normal posts asap!

The image below is from a very useful article on the Bupa website about Cartotid Artery Dissection which you can read here.

Bupa Image of Carotid Artery Dissection
Photo of Carotid Artery Dissection courtesy of Bupa

And me with the droopy eye, not feeling so great!

Horner's Syndrome Carotid Artery Dissection
Next Post Previous Post
  • Downland Crafts
    Downland Crafts 7 July 2015 at 21:00

    Aww Cliona, as someone who struggles with her own health I can somewhat appreciate what you are going through and wish I had some wise words of wisdom but sadly I don't. Instead I will send you a whole bucketful of virtual hugs. I wish I was as brave as you when it comes to writing, I'm a bottle it up kinda girl. xx

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 8 July 2015 at 19:15

      Thanks so much Trish, I appreciate your virtual hugs so much :) Funnily enough, writing about it made me feel a little better!

  • Ladybug
    Ladybug 8 October 2017 at 22:46

    I find it interesting how you compare the exhaustion to a hangover. I feel the same, with my own list of analogies from cobwebs to a hangover I cannot shake. Now it has been 2 monthss and I believe I am closer to accepting this exhaustion will not go away, I am better to give in & that is difficult with the worst of anxiety that has come along with the CAD/stroke. I also feel like the stroke may have saved my life. If my arm wasxnt numb & I didn't have to work in an hr, when the alarm went offc at 6am I may have tried to go back to sleep. The universe has something to do with each and every one of us being here & making it through!

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 11 March 2018 at 10:10

      So sorry, only seeing your comment today as it had gone into spam folder! I hope you are feeling a bit better now. I've been struggling again lately although I do have long periods where I feel ok. It is wonderful that you are alive and getting through it - I do always feel thankful that my case wasn't worse.

  • Unknown
    Unknown 14 April 2018 at 17:19

    I too had a carotid artery dissection 3 weeks ago and after many test, including an angiogram, I was diagnosed with Fibromuscular Dysplasia. I'm on blood thinners right now and I totally relate to your "bran fog". It's very hard to explain to my husband and friends what I feel like but you have summized it quite well and I will use your verbiage in the future. I too love gardening and I'm totally devastated that I may not be able to continue that passion because of the constant fear of having a stroke. I'm hoping this feeling of despair will wear off soon but in the meanwhile, I continue to struggle with extreme fatigue and that constant swooshing sound in my ear.

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 20 April 2018 at 19:24

      Bibiana, do think about joining the Facebook groups - I have found them such a lifesaver and I can tell you that things will get so much better! Give yourself plenty of care and love and allow your body to heal but you will, over the coming months, return to some kind of normality. Things may never be exactly as they once were but it will ease, I promise. xx

Add Comment
comment url