by Karla ° Monday, April 6, 2009
The day started normally enough. It was Saturday and we had a showing of our house, so after doing the regular tidying up, Mark and I headed out and drove aimlessly around the neighbourhood while strangers viewed our home and Nate was in McDonald’s french fry glory with his Grandparents.

All of sudden I was struck with a wicked headache. And then the headache disappeared just as quickly as it came on and was replaced with intense waves of gag-inducing nausea. Mark and I were in the van and I yelled at him to pull over RIGHT THIS SECOND because motion was making the dry heaving and gagging worse. As Mark pulled off to the side of the road, I opened my window and took several deep breathes when suddenly it felt like someone (something?) was gripping the back of my neck. But the grip was coming from deep inside my head.

And then, within a matter of seconds, my vision disappeared and I screamed at Mark that I couldn’t see and then my fingers started to tingle and then the tingle spread into my face and then my fingers involuntarily clenched into a distorted claw-like disfigurement and both sides of my face drooped in a painfully numbing way, much like that of a stroke victim. The next thing I remember was hearing Mark’s panicked voice on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator and my entire body being in incredible pain. By this point, my legs had involuntarily stretched out and were rigidly straight. I was paralyzed.

Unlike the one-sided paralysis of a stroke though, the paralysis overtook my entire body and I was entirely cognizant of my surroundings. I didn’t understand what was happening to me but my vision had returned and I could feel the droopiness in my facial muscles and despite trying, I just couldn’t move or use my body. I kept trying to scream, “Help Me! Help Me!” Over and over again but my entire face, including my tongue, was paralyzed.

I’m not sure how, or when, but for some reason we ended up right outside our house when the EMS response team arrived. I remember hearing Mark scream, “Over here! Hurry! My wife is having a stroke.” I guess the echoes of his distress call were heard across the neighbourhood because soon I had several concerned neighbours peering in the van at my contorted face and oddly twisted and paralyzed body. I felt as equally mortified as I did freaked right the fuck out. I have a body. I have a brain. And I could not make the two of them work together.

The first EMS person to respond to the 9-1-1 call encouraged me to breathe deeply while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Slowly, oh god, ever so slowly, the feeling in my body started to return. If you have ever had a c-section, I can only describe it as the sluggish and odd-feeling process of regaining the feeling in the lower half of your body as the spinal freezing wears off.

After about a half hour, my face returned to normal, and I could move my legs. My right pinky finger was the last part of my body to become ungnarled.

I spent a good 10 hours afterwards unable to steady the trembling shakiness in my body. My legs hurt, like I had the worst Charlie horse in the history of all Charlie horses and I could not hold my hands steady enough to drink water on my own.

The ambulance crew said I had a panic attack, and man oh man, I have had my share of panic attacks before, but never, ever anything like that.

I went to talk to my therapist the next day and he seemed to think otherwise. Panic attacks are typically characterized by a rapidly beating heart, skipped heart beats and an overwhelming feeling of anxiousness and impending doom. Dude, I was having a perfectly enjoyable child-free afternoon with Mark. I can assure you that he does not incite doom and gloom unless he farts and holds my head under the covers. My therapist suggested that I should probably have an MRI and see a Neurologist and ordered a battery of blood work to be done by my family doctor.

My family doctor seemed to also think what happened was something more than a panic attack and had me strip down and wear one of those sartorial nightmare blue paper gowns as she analyzed various parts of my body and my reflexes, which she thought were “brisk.” And by brisk, she meant holy good god this woman was lying down and I tapped her knee and she came like an inch from forcefully kicking me in the head.

Unsatisfied with her findings, she asked me not to leave her care until she could get me an emergency visit with a Neurologist. I called Mark and he bolted from work and an hour and a $90.00 cab ride later, he was holding my hand in the Neurologists office.

And that brings me to today. The episodes of blurred vision and internal squeezing in the back of my neck have happened several times since the full body paralysis episode. Sometimes it’s even accompanied with a bit of tingling in my fingers and it’s absolutely terrifying not knowing what the hell is wrong with me.

I don’t know what is going on, but I am going for an electroencephalogram (EEG) soon and someone is going to mess up my hair and put electrodes all over my scalp and make me look like something right out of a Star Trek episode so that they can analyze my brain.

I know I said this last year, but I think, after this experience, and as the anniversary of Ava’s death approaches it’s worth saying again.

Life is short. Enfold yourself in all its vivid reality, embrace it, feel it, live it.

Because you just never know what tomorrow will bring.

UPDATE: My doctor just called me, and all the blood work came back normal. I have normal blood. And all this time I kinda hoped she would tell me my blood was blue because I would love to live in a castle and have hot men wearing loincloths feed me grapes all day. Instead I'll just have to wait until June for an EEG.


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Karla, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there.
Posted by Blogger Owen's mummy :  April 06, 2009

Oh my. I'm so sorry to hear about your terrifying episode, and I hope you have a quick answer to what's going on. That truly is frightening!
Posted by Blogger Georgia :  April 06, 2009

Prayers for you and for the doctors to find out what's going on!

Oh my gosh, Karla. How terrifying, and how frustrating for you to not know what (if anything) is wrong.

I had a series of panic attacks last week (and never have before), but they manifested themselves with a racing, pounding heart that made me think I was having a heart attack. It was scary but passed...I've never heard of a panic attack like the one you're describing. I'm happy to hear you're pressing forward and having further testing done. Keep us posted.

Holding you tight in my thought and prayers and praying for the wisdom of your doctors.

Posted by Anonymous Megan :  April 06, 2009

My thoughts are with you, Karla.

I've had a couple of panic attacks before, too, and what you experienced sounds WAY more extreme. I've had a pounding heart and trouble breathing, but certainly not blindness or paralysis. I'm glad that the doctors are investigating further to find out what's going on.
Posted by Blogger Mary Lynn :  April 06, 2009

I don't comment often, but I'm always here. I'll be praying that this is something minor and easy to take care of and that you feel back to normal soon.
Posted by Blogger jess :  April 06, 2009

My prayers are with you. Please keep us updated.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 06, 2009

My prayers are with you and your family.
Posted by Blogger RM :  April 06, 2009

Karla, I'm thinking of you and hope you have some answers soon.

Oh Karla...
you are indeed in my prayers. i have a blue candle burning right now...
Posted by Blogger Erika :  April 06, 2009


OMG. I hope everything is OK Karla. Thinking of you.
Posted by Anonymous Susan :  April 06, 2009

Please do keep us posted. I'm worried now.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 06, 2009

Jesus Karla. Like you haven't been dealt enough, you know?

Thinking of you. Hoping all is OK.
Posted by Anonymous Kristin :  April 06, 2009

That is insanely awful. I hope they figure out what the hell is wrong with you soon. So sorry.
Posted by OpenID wherewiller :  April 06, 2009

I read your blog religiously, but have never posted.

I will be thinking of you often and hoping that you get to the bottom of this quickly, and that you are feeling well very soon.

You are loved by your cyber-community.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 06, 2009

Holy shit! That's scary. Hope everything turns out okay.
Posted by Blogger sky girl :  April 06, 2009

Update soon, Karla. I'm thinking of you. Holy shit.
Posted by Blogger Carly :  April 06, 2009

Just, love. And thoughs. Please rest and let's all hope the dr's know what the heck they are doing!
Posted by OpenID jedichic07 :  April 06, 2009

OMG that is so fucking scary. i am sending postive thoughts your way
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 06, 2009

I will keep you all in my thoughts.

Sending you an extra big hug!

Amanda x
Posted by Blogger Amanda :  April 06, 2009

Praying for you, Karla. Right now.
Posted by Anonymous Angella :  April 06, 2009

OMG Karla ~ I am praying that things are going to be ok ~ please let us know when you get any news.
Thinking of you and sending love and a big hug XXXXXXX
Posted by Blogger Tabitha :  April 06, 2009

I just started recently reading and I hope that you will have some answers soon and that everything will be okay. Good luck.

Wow. You are in my thoughts. Good luck and keep us updated.
Posted by Anonymous hobbychanger :  April 06, 2009

Yeah, that definitely was not a panic attack. I can't imagine how scary that must have been. I hope all is well and keep us posted!
Posted by Blogger Beth :  April 06, 2009

Be sure to ask your doctor if it was a transient ischemic attack (TIA) aka a "mini-stroke." also, sometimes a stroke, depending on the type, can involve temporary paralysis of the whole body, although usually it is on one side. Good luck with everything, and continue to be proactive.
Posted by Anonymous Mairi :  April 06, 2009

Oh, dear, I hope it all works out, and soon! How utterly scary for you and for Mark. I'll be thinking of you.
Posted by Blogger ccr in MA :  April 06, 2009

so scary, something like this happened to my sister. she has a history of migraines, the bad kind. Her episode also happened during a happy time, a relaxing holiday (so also not panic) but she was dehydrated from traveling and sun at the time. She did the whole MRI thing and found nothing but for weeks after she felt twinges. On two subsequent occasions under similar occasions (hot tub) she felt it again but not like the 1st time. Now she makes sure that she stays well hydrated at all times and it has been years since any episodes. Try not to panic, sometimes these things turn out fine...
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 06, 2009

I can't even imagine how scary that must have been. Thinking of you.

And thanks for the reminder. I needed that.
Posted by OpenID bluebluesoup :  April 06, 2009

Oh, Karla - I'm thinking of you and your family. I'm sorry you're having to go through this, and hope it turns out to be a weird medical fluke. Good luck, mama.
Posted by Anonymous Jen :  April 06, 2009

Praying for whatever it is to be transient and never visit again.
Posted by Anonymous delphi :  April 07, 2009

Karla, I'm thinking about you. Hope everything is fine and you will be up and running in no time.

Thinking of you.
Posted by Blogger Mandi :  April 07, 2009

Oh, that's so scary. Do you have someone staying with you while Mark is at work? I'll be thinking of you and hoping for the best.

Posted by Anonymous Julia :  April 07, 2009

Hugs. Just Hugs.
Posted by Anonymous Carol :  April 07, 2009


I had a very similar experience in October and after spending 24 hours in the hospital and having a CAT scan, MRI and several cardiac tests plus constant heart monitoring it was finally decided that I had an "atypical presentation of a migraine". Happened that one time and hasn't happened since. Good luck with all of your testing.
Posted by Anonymous Leslie :  April 07, 2009

Oh Karla, that is terrifyingly scary. I haven't commented in quite sometime, but I still check in on your blog and it made me sick reading your experience. You've been through to much for one person. Good luck with your testing. My thoughts will be with you.

Thank you everyone, for your words of support and kindness. I am so truly lucky to be surrounded by such awesomeness here.
Posted by Blogger karla :  April 07, 2009

How scary! I've had my share of panic attacks and they were never that extreme. While I would get the tingling and the feeling of something gripping my neck and sometimes even temporary loss of vision, I never had the paralysis.

This is the second thing in less than a week's time to make me realize I need to live life to the fullest. One of my friend's BIL was one of the cops killed in Pittsburgh over the weekend. He left behind his wife and 2 girls (6 and 3).....the same age as my boys. I'm truly, deeply saddened by it.

I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Please let us know what you find out.
Posted by Blogger Candi :  April 07, 2009

You don't personally know me, but I am in your BLOGHER ADS circle of network. I will pray for you, and will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Liza's Eyeview
A Maui Blog

Praying. Please keep us posted.
Posted by Anonymous Amanda Brown :  April 07, 2009

JUNE!? Ridiculous!
Posted by Blogger Mandi :  April 07, 2009

Yup. Apparently June is a very short wait list for Ontario Wait Times Mandi. Sucky eh?
Posted by Blogger karla :  April 07, 2009

My gosh! That's scary!

Gotta love our medical system - making you wait 'til June!
Posted by Anonymous Heather :  April 07, 2009

Holy cow, Karla! I too have had my share of panic attacks (I've spent a couple of evenings in the ER at AP hospital recently, with what appear to be food allergy reactions, but I suspect are also either caused or fuelled by anxiety)-- but paralysis does seem extreme. Take good care of yourself. I hope you can get to the bottom of this, fast.
Posted by Blogger loribeth :  April 07, 2009

it sounds like a seizure to me..
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 07, 2009

Crazy scary story. Please do keep us posted.
Posted by Blogger joyce :  April 07, 2009

Hey Karla, that's bloody scary stuff.. I had something similiar happen to me about a year and half ago, except without the paralysis.. but with an MRI , bloodwork and numerous other tests... Ang and I are praying for you..
Posted by Anonymous Rich :  April 07, 2009

Holy shit, Karla, that sucks. I hope they figure out what it is soon and that you're okay!
We've had some super pretty sunsets these last few days. Let's hope they're just as good in two weeks when I journey back to the park by the river, balloon in tow.
Posted by Anonymous Alison :  April 07, 2009

Dear Karla

Im here from youtube after seeing the video of Ava. Im praying for your family and your health.
Posted by Anonymous FunnyGrrrl01 :  April 08, 2009

So Sorry to hear that you were not feeling good Karla. My best to you that you feel alot better. take Girl!!!!


I had the exact same thing and all blood work, and a mountain of nuero tests were normal. I have a condition called complex migraines. When you get a bad headache or migraine you have stroke like symptoms. After the headache is over your symptoms resolve. Its a very scary event. You should definitely try and get that EEG sooner because if your having any kind of seizure or something else it could get worse. Good luck and I'll keep you in my prayers.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 08, 2009

I think that you should ask your doctor about MS. Some of the symptoms can appear almost instantly and then resolve a while later.....if caught early some of the sypmptoms can be decreased.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  April 08, 2009

A mi amigo el estres le da dolor de cabeza, hormigueo en los brazos y en la nuca, temblores y perdida de vision temporal. Al cabo de unas horas se le pasa todo poco a poco. Le han hecho TAC, EGG y radiografia y todo esta normal. ¿Puede ser que vender la casa, con los preparativos que tiene esta situacion, haya provocado realmente una gran migraña? Espero que asi sea. Estas en mis oraciones.
My friend gets stress headaches, tingling in arms and neck, tremors, and temporary loss of vision. After a few hours he spends a little bit. We have TAC, ETT and x-rays and everything is normal. Could it be to sell the house, with preparations that have this situation has caused a really big migraine? I hope so. You are in my prayers.
Posted by Anonymous Susana :  April 09, 2009


This probably won't comfort you like I mean it too, but this is literally the second story this week I've read of a friend having the exact same experience. Her doctors diagnosed migraine, as some of the others have said. I can't imagine the thoughts that must have gone through your mind...and I can't believe you have to wait until june for the eeg. Thinking and praying for you. Keep us posted.
Posted by OpenID angelapowers :  April 11, 2009

Posted by Blogger DENISE :  July 10, 2009


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