I woke up on a Friday morning with a headache. But what’s a niggling headache when you’re a busy mom of four kids with a life to live? Nothing.
I took some painkillers and got on with my day. On Shabbos morning, the headache was back but still in the realm of normal. At a kiddush I attended that morning, I remember telling my sister about this annoying headache I couldn’t get rid of.
The headache got worse. On Sunday morning, I took more pills and the headache subsided—until the medication wore off. The pain kept intensifying, and the number of pills kept increasing.
At one point, I was taking so many pills that I was starting to feel weird. I was alternating brands every few hours and was feeling floaty and lightheaded, but it was the only way to get rid of the debilitating pain. I upped the meds to migraine-strength just so I could function, even though I was seeing stars.
On Monday night, I was in such agony that I didn’t sleep at all. My husband took the baby to a sitter because I was simply unable to care for her. I had an appointment scheduled for Wednesday and asked my husband to drive me; I didn’t think it was safe for me to drive with all the medication I was taking.
I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling fine. The headache was gone. Excited by the improvement, I jumped out of bed—or at least tried to. I tumbled right back in.
My entire right side was paralyzed.
I tried moving my shoulder, my arm, my leg, my foot, even my fingers, but it was as if everything had turned to stone. I touched my face with my left hand and was horrified to feel that the right side was drooping. My first thought was that I had Bell’s palsy.
I needed to see my doctor. My husband wasn’t home from shul yet, and I tried dressing the baby. I don’t know how I managed, but I did. I somehow got the kids off to school and shuffled down the stairs, holding the baby in the crook of my left elbow.
I was so overjoyed about not having a headache anymore that it didn’t occur to me that the paralysis was a lot more worrisome. I was feeling pretty weird since I still had sensation on my right side but just couldn’t move anything.
Seeing the state I was in, my husband canceled my doctor’s appointment and drove me straight to the emergency room. When we arrived, the receptionist took one look at me and asked, “What’s going on with you?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I’m fine. I just can’t move my right side.”
Her facial expression was all I needed to realize that I was anything but fine.
Before I knew it, there were seven people crowded around me, one connecting me to a heart monitor, another putting stickers on my chest and a third asking me questions.
“What time did you wake up?”