I was playing with my three year old son in the living room, helping him solve a Winnie the Pooh puzzle, when I felt something going wrong inside my brain, something terribly wrong. “I cannot speak!” I stood up, ran to the bedroom where my husband was sleeping, holding my hands around my head in a silent scream. He jumped up as soon as he saw the Munch-like expression on my face, tried to calm me down. But a quick exam revealed, my husband is a physician by training, that there was something wrong with my nervous system. I was 39 years old, 115 lbs, in good health, whatever it was it couldn't be too serious, so we drove to the nearest hospital…
As soon as we entered the emergency room it all began: CAT scans –to see if there was blood in my brain, MRIs of my brain and neck, waiting for the right specialist (If possible don’t have an emergency on a weekend - chances are you are a lot less likely to survive), electrodes everywhere on my body, doctors and nurses speaking jargon... I was watching a scene from the TV series ER, with yours truly in the leading role as the patient. My husband was trying to keep me informed as much as he could. Only this time the medical jargon thrown around was far from entertaining. Besides I couldn't understand whether I also lost my ability to comprehend the spoken word or it simply was the terminology used. "Magnetic Resonance Imaging reveals a lateral dissection of the internal carotid artery leading to a thrombosis. We suspect the dissection is a result of cerebral fibromuscular dysplasia." (http://www.fmdsa.org/)
Hellooo? Do you hear me? Could you speak English, please?
In the end it became clear that I had a stroke. The clot-busting medication called tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), that should dissolve the blockage in the artery didn't work either. My left carotid artery was blocked forever and the brain area responsible from speaking, more commonly known as the Broca’s area, was dead. When I say speaking, I mean communication in any form: I mean writing, drawing, language, gestures, in short any means of expressing oneself …
The name of my newly acquired condition was: Expressive Aphasia. witness to all around me, trying to understand my condition . But at the same time there was an feeling of acceptance, an intellectual curiosity about what would happen next, where this is going to end. I'm not a religious person. Over the years I also lost my faith in a supernatural being. Throughout all that ordeal, especially inside of the MRI machine, where it takes 40 minutes to run an image, I had an odd feeling: "So, this is it then? How very mundane."
After the diagnosis I was transferred from the Emergency Room to Intensive Care Unit, ICU.
It was quieter there.