Today's submission comes from Carol, a 47-year-old wife and mum of two kids, 17 and 25. She is currently off work indefinitely due to lupus SLE which she was diagnosed with at 24 years of age.
In December of 2014, I went to the hospital emergency thinking I was having a heart attack or something, as I had been having severe chest pains, tachycardia, severe sweats & the worst headache of my entire life. A doctor told me I had the flu. I had no symptoms of the flu whatsoever, but after three hours they sent me for an ECG. As I was walking down, I had skull crushing pain that brought me to my knees & I couldn't stand. I had pain so bad in my head that I actually couldn't see for almost a minute.
They seemed unconcerned with the pain in my head & my ECG seemed fine so they sent me on my way. Two weeks later in my living room as I was talking to my husband, I had my first stroke. I was getting up off the sofa to walk & I was trying to talk, but it was all mumbled & I lost all control of the left side of my body. Luckily my husband caught me as he came around the corner. I thought it was a seizure & I lost balance, as is the norm for me.
About ten days later, I had another. I went into my clinic because I was just not feeling right & couldn't get rid of the headache & begged the doctor for help. She checked my heart rate & blood pressure six times & was alarmed. When I told her about the headache & seizures, she was almost positive I had had a stroke episode & referred me to the heart & stroke clinic at our major hospital (not where I had emergency treatment). I had two TIA's [ed note: these are sometimes called "mini-strokes" but are more accurately called a "warning" stroke; a warning that you should take very seriously] due to Lupus lesions on my brain & subsequent seizures. Thankfully I got lucky & a female doctor saw something was very wrong & sent me to the stroke clinic at a major hospital. I am currently being followed closely by a very competent neurologist who is taking great care of me. I have some cognitive issues & take medication to prevent the seizures that followed my strokes.
Why are all women treated as nervous Nellys? Why aren't we taken at our word? And why for the love of Liza, don't they put more stake behind an educated woman who is not only ill, but is ill with a detrimental disease such as Lupus SLE? Fighting the misogyny could cause my "fragile woman brain" to explode, but I just tell myself to carry on Carol, because it's #CarolsLupusLife.
Update: I went back to that same horrible hospital and had to leave and go to another. My husband finally understands that he can't take me to the first one anymore. They were so much worse to me this time. My husband thought I had another stroke and they left me sitting in a chair for almost 6 hours and when he raised a fuss the nurse said, "Well if she had a stroke, the damage is done so you will just have to wait like everyone else." He took me to a better hospital and they had me in a bed in 10 minutes. I begged him not to take me back to the first one anymore. We told the doctor at the next ER about the first hospital and he was not impressed, but he also didn't seem surprised by the treatment we got at that ER. It has a reputation.