The primary reason for sharing the story below is to help anyone who may search the web someday for a possible explanation for symptoms similar to what I had experienced. I know that is what I did, but nothing I found matched what my diagnosis turned out to be.
It started on New Year’s Eve when I felt like one side of my tongue was swollen. I thought it was probably an allergic reaction to something I ate so I waited a few days to see if would go away before having to see a doctor. When it did not get any better, I made an appointment with my primary care physician, who then referred me to an ear, nose, and throat doctor for a couple of days later.
While waiting for that appointment, my ear and neck also began to ache, on the same side of my face that my tongue was swollen. The ENT doctor examined me and ordered an MRI for me which I just got this past Friday.
Before I went for the MRI my ear and neck were getting worse so I went to the ER this past Friday morning. They did not find anything but said the MRI, which was scheduled for later that day, might reveal something. They did tell me my blood pressure was quite high (180/110) and to follow up with my regular doctor to see how that could be managed.
So I got the MRI, and while waiting for those results, I kept monitoring my BP and it was not getting better. At that point, my sister-in-law, who is a nurse, strongly recommended I visit the ER, which I did this past Sunday. My blood pressure at that point was 200/112.
As fate would have it, my MRI results came in while I was in the ER and it showed a dissection (tear) in my left carotid artery. As a result of the tear, a clot was formed creating 100% blockage.
I was immediately admitted to the hospital and for the next couple of days, I had several tests performed and was put on multiple medications. This helped to get my blood pressure back to more reasonable levels.
I was released two days ago, and initially, the doctors are going to try to manage the blockage with meds, and I will be re-examined in three months to see if surgery is necessary. The doctors said I dodged a major bullet since this could have led to a major stroke.
They are not sure what may have caused the dissection, but they think it’s possible it could be related to when I fell and broke my wrists back in early November. I may have hit my head as well, and not been aware of it.
I am grateful to all those who helped get me through this incident, especially those with whom I have a personal connection.
Besides my sister-in-law, one of my nephews is a cardiac anesthesiologist at the hospital where I was treated who was able to stop by every day and explain things to me as well as simply be a friendly face since visitors were not allowed. I also have a friend who is an ER doctor and was able to offer advice and some much-needed re-assurance. In addition, I am grateful to all the friends and relatives who wished me well.
I am also grateful for the wonderful care of the heatlh-care professionals who treated me during this time. It truly was a team effort, involving both neuro and vascular specialists. And I am certainly thankful that I have good health insurance.
So who would have known that a swollen tongue could have played such a critical role in helping get to the bottom of explaining my symptoms
And now that tongue is kind of famous, since a couple of the doctors asked if they could take a picture of it… 🙂