Hitting 40 years old is a milestone in itself, my husbands only birthday wish for his 40th birthday was to spend it with his family and the beach. We celebrated with a weekend away in May 2016 with family and friends at a beach house in Ventura, CA and enjoyed every minute basking in his new 40-year-old body!
That body did him wrong on August 8th, 2016— two months after his big birthday. Turning 40 was a turning point in his body, a point that threw a wrench into our life as a couple, family, and made our most important man deal with countless hurdles in this new precious year of life.
August 8th, 2016 was like any other day. My husband is an avid fisherman and most summers he is out on the water more than he is on land. He went fishing with our neighbor’s son that is 18 years old, and I was back home with our then two-year-old daughter. He was to be home early that day so that we could get our little girl a big girl bed for her room. Now looking back, thank goodness he had a time to be home. That time saved him. He could have been hours away at the Islands fishing with no cell service. He was just miles out of the harbor.
He was to be home at 12, and around 12:05 pm I got a phone call from him. “Babe I think I had a stroke” was his first sentence to me. My first thoughts were “yeah right”, and there was no way. But he was pretty sure, and he was freaking out. It was a short conversation, and he told me he was on his way in on his boat and was only 5 minutes away from Ventura harbor. I was to meet him at the hospital, and the ambulance was coming to get him.
I hung up and immediately my heart was racing, and my stomach was in knots. Tears ran down my face——HOW THE HELL DID MY HUSBAND HAVE A STROKE! He is too young, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be dealing with this horrific situation.My daughter was sleeping, and my head was racing with “do I bring her with me?” and what to do next.
If you are not religious, that day would have changed your mind. God was with us ALL day that day. When I called my parents, who are my go to when in a crisis. They happen to be driving to my town to go to a hardware store. They live 20 minutes away, and that day and at that exact time I called them were getting off my exit near my house. Nobody could have planted them in a better spot at that moment. They drove straight to my house and watched my little girl so I could get to the hospital right when my husband got there.
Sean was brought to our local hospital here in Ventura, California and was in the ER. He was shaken up, emotional, and his world and my world had truly changed at that point.
The ER doctors took his blood, and performed numerous tests, and came in to talk to us about what happened. How did he feel? And what they thought it was. We had no clue what he had, but every symptom pointed to a stroke.
But in reality, 40 year olds don’t USUALLY have strokes. To doctors that meant the probability was low, and that he “PROBABLY” had a TIA which is a mini stroke. The ER doctor did calculations on the probability of him having a stroke, and it was low VERY LOW. She in some way, wanted us to go home. WHAT?? Go home, with no answers after half my husband’s body went numb, he couldn’t talk because his tongue was curled up, and he was paralyzed for 10 minutes?
YEAH, RIGHT WE WERE GOING HOME!! We demanded an MRI, and we wanted to go home with an answer, and not that the probability was low. What??
MRI was done an hour later, and the results were in——-The ER doctor came in with her tail between her legs, and a shocked look on her face. WOW sir, you have had a FULL BLOWN STROKE!
A stroke that ‘NORMALLY’ a 40-year old wouldn’t have, a stroke that “NORMALLY” a young man doesn’t have. I was shocked for so many reasons, but so happy that we pushed the doctors, googled the whole time we were there, and wouldn’t take NO for an answer.
From that moment on, we knew we were our OWN ADVOCATE. These doctors didn’t care, and we were just another patient. But now, we were a patient they were stumped on, and baffled on, how could he have had a stroke.
That day, we got out Neurologist that came into our room to hear his story and look at his MRI. If I had a penny every time someone told my husband he was young and healthy, I would be rich. They did countless tests in the hospital, including a bubble test to see if he had a hole in his heart. A young kid did the test, and he determined my husband’s heart was just fine.
Then the Neurologist at the hospital told my husband he had “plaque on his brain” yes this healthy young man had shit growing on his brain. WHAT? He even showed us on my husbands MRI. And that his cholesterol was high. But in reality, it wasn’t high they did his blood test without him fasting. It was just a way to get an answer.
My husband went into a downward spiral; he thought he was pretty much dead. He was on his phone all day researching, eating like a bird, and growing more and more worried as the days went on. WAS HE GOING TO DIE? But every time we saw this neurologist he kept telling us that he was young and that we needed to live our life. Don’t worry it “probably” won’t happen again. They had no clue still, why he had this stroke.
We decided at that point; we needed a second opinion. Doctor #2 (a Ventura neurologist) determined off our MRI that my husband doesn’t have a plaque on his brain. Ok, that’s great but how come the last guy said he had it? She was now ordering tests after tests, including a camera down my husband’s chests to check his heart now for the second time.
We went in, and the local cardiologists here in Ventura confirmed off the camera test that again my husband’s heart was just fine. At this point, we were ruling out that the heart caused a blood clot. They told us more than likely my husband had a “cryptogenic stroke, ” and that he wouldn’t have an answer to what caused his stroke.
My husband was so over the “your healthy” and “young” status he was put on. We were coming up on our one year anniversary of having his stroke. Wow, what a year. A year of back and forth doctor appointments, tests, and countless medical bills that were piling up.
We decided that we needed a 3rd doctor opinion and this time we were going out of the county and to a better hospital. We were done feeling like we were a pain, and it just felt like nobody gave two shits, to be honest. My husband is the type that doesn’t’ take no for an answer, and he was determined to be his OWN ADVOCATE. Fight on is his mentality and if that meant spending years on years figuring this out…..we would have!
Long story short, we were recommended a top neurologist in Santa Barbara. He didn’t take our insurance, and we would be out of pocket an office visit. We decided let’s give him a try.
They decided to do one more bubble tests to determine my husband didn’t have a hole in his heart. To be honest, I thought it would come back negative. I mean he has had two other tests on his heart that were supposedly conclusive that my husband’s heart was all right!
We just had the test done two weeks ago; my husband said four people came in to do the test. At the local hospital, one young kid did the test. Right there, he was convinced he was at the right place.
That day, it was determined my husband had a “GAPPING HOLE IN HIS HEART” that he had since he was BORN!! WOW!!
We learned it’s called a PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale) and it’s easily corrected by an outpatient procedure. 1-3 people have a PFO and don’t know it. My husband was one. They usually find out when something drastic happens; symptoms can be fatigue and migraines. Which my husband had both his entire life but never knew to look into it.
A mix of emotions ran through both of us….we FINALLY had an answer.
How did the other two tests come back negative? How did the other doctors miss this huge problem?
Even the Cardiologist in Santa Barbara was baffled that they didn’t find this hole. It’s not small; it’s GAPPING!
A hole we would have never found if we trusted the words of these doctors here in Ventura. A hole he would have lived with and could have died with down the road.
We are now scheduled to have surgery to fix his hole in the next couple of weeks. Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Luckily my husband has no permanent damage from the stroke. Like I said, God is good! He was with Sean every step of the way, and with his strength, we fought and fought!
We also learned that HALF of “Cryptogenic strokes” end up being a PFO that goes undetected. My husband was told over and over he had this type of stroke. If you were told you had this stroke, PLEASE LOOK MORE INTO IT AND FIGHT TO HAVE YOUR HEART LOOKED AT CLOSELY.
But my reason for this posts is to make sure EVERY single person entering an ER is their OWN ADVOCATE. Do not put your trusts into these doctors, and do not take no for an answer. This is your life and your body. You have every right to question them and read and educate yourself.
OUR LOCAL HOSPITAL DID US WRONG. THEY WERE GOING TO SEND MY HUSBAND HOME. HE HAS A GAPPING HOLE IN HIS HEART THAT TOOK 1 YEAR TO FIND. MAKE SURE TO SPREAD THIS STORY AND MAKE THE YOUNG AND OLD RECOGNIZE AND FIGHT FOR THEIR OWN LIFE!!