However, something happened that felt like a mini miracle - my appointment coincided with the Consultant's clinic! This might not seem like a big deal but as a public patient, the person I see is a bit of a lottery to be honest. I've become quite a pro at hospital visits as my youngest has food allergies and my eldest was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in her Leaving Cert year. The quality of the appointment really depends on who you get and I struck hospital gold this time :)
Dr O'Brien spent some time with me, read my file thoroughly and actually remembered me being admitted and that Mark had noticed my Horner's syndrome. He showed me scans of my brain which was pretty cool :)
He explained that ongoing pain was due to the effect on a cluster of nerves around the tear. He also didn't dismiss my reluctance to be medicated for blood pressure and cholesterol and was willing to give me time to manage these more naturally. So this is my goal for the next while - to be as healthy as possible and try to avoid lots of medication. Naturally if my efforts don't work, I will have to take the medication but I'm happy to have the opportunity to give it a go at least.
This kind of brings me on to something that has bothered me from time to time - having a condition that is so unusual, I don't expect people to understand or be informed about it. However, when I say what it is, I think sometimes people link it with carotid artery disease which is an entirely different thing. It doesn't particularly matter what people think but it can be quite irritating to feel that people think this has happened because of an unhealthy lifestyle.
In actual fact, many people in my CAD support groups are pretty healthy people who exercise a lot. I have always exercised, eat pretty well in that I cook fresh food and try to avoid processed 'junk' food and would generally be conscious of my health. I was a smoker but had given up about a month before CAD happened, thankfully. I'm now even more conscious of what I eat - having a huge health scare can really focus your priorities! The reality is that what happened to me could happen to anyone - being fit and healthy is definitely not a protection from tearing your carotid artery and it has occurred after gym sessions in many cases.
I do now feel a lot more positive though and the best news was that Dr. O'Brien gave me the all clear to exercise again and to be able to lift things without worrying about having a stroke. It means that I don't have to be worrying about lugging boxes around and my heavy table when I do markets this Christmas and I've been for two proper runs already:) I'm going to have to work slowly back to my previous running level as I'm feeling pretty unfit after almost 5 months without serious exercise. My plan is to blog a little bit about my healthy lifestyle plan and see how I get on!
The following is taken from the Wikipedia definition:
'Carotid artery dissection is a separation of the layers of the artery wall supplying oxygen-bearing blood to the head and brain and is the most common cause of stroke in young adults. (In vascular medicine, dissection is a blister-like de-lamination between the outer and inner walls of a blood vessel, generally originating with a partial leak in the inner lining.)'