What happened to me?
October 26, 2007 2:41 PM   Subscribe

MedicalFilter: What the hell happened to me?

For starters, I know you are not my doctor, and I am planning to see a doctor.

Last night, I arrived home about 30 minutes after eating dinner. As I got out of the car, I got very very hot, began sweating, and my head felt very heavy. I began to salivate to the point where it was coming out of my mouth.

I took a few steps toward the stairs, and realized I couldn't walk straight and was stumbling. I tried to call for help but just ended up making noises. I reached for the banister but I think my depth perception was off, and ended up missing it and falling down, and then having to crawl up the stairs to my door. I got the door open, and reached for the phone, but then everything went black.

I woke up at about two am, just inside the house with the front door open. I had lost a shoe, cut my knees very badly, and drooled everywhere. But I felt fine. I'd stopped salivating so much, my head felt fine, and I had regained my ability to speak. I stood up, brushed off, closed the door, took a shower and went back to sleep in my own bed.

I don't have health care, so I have to plan my doctor trips very carefully, but I need some ideas as to what may have happened so that I can tell the doctor and avoid several trips and several thousand dollars in bills I can't afford.

I'm female, caucasian, 24. I had done no drinking or cigarette smoking in the past day, and no illegal drugs in years. My dinner consisted of chicken breast and asparagus and I have no food allergies or any pre-existing diagnosed conditions. I'm afraid to drive at this point because I'm worried it will happen again. Any followup questions, please email me at wtfhappenedtome@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (39 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Stroke? That's what it immediately makes me think.
posted by limeonaire at 2:42 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Go to the doctor now. Life with debt and trumps death and disability.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:45 PM on October 26, 2007 [3 favorites]

I thought stroke too. You need to see a neurologist ASAP. Don't worry, they all have payment plans.
posted by MiffyCLB at 2:53 PM on October 26, 2007

Seizure? Bell palsy? I had a similar thing happen to me after taking codeine, which apparently I am allergic to. Don't rule out an allergy to something. It might not be the food you ate but the pesticides sprayed on them or in the restaurant or the carpet freshener the restaurant used or a million different environmental triggers.
posted by 45moore45 at 2:53 PM on October 26, 2007

That really sounds like a stroke. Don't make an appointment; go to a doctor/emergency room NOW and tell them you think you've had a stroke. Much, much better safe than sorry in this situation.
posted by Hargrimm at 2:54 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Stroke. You know how they say "series of strokes" a lot? Yeah. Get thee to a doctor NOW.
posted by agregoli at 3:12 PM on October 26, 2007

Get off the computer. Go to the hospital.
posted by chundo at 3:14 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yep, it's hospital-time. It's all right, don't panic - you're lucky! It could be nothing, or it could be something - in which case think of this experience as a gift, warning you in advance.
posted by Craig at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had this happen to me once, all the symptoms except the salivating. I went to the emergency room and they found that my blood pressure was extremely high, stroke-level high. I ended up in the hospital for a week, out of work for a month (luckily I had sick leave).

Worse, I lost all my hearing in my right ear. That was the only permanent result besides still taking blood pressure meds.

posted by HeyAllie at 3:23 PM on October 26, 2007

You know, I really can understand some of the medical questions on Ask.Me. The ones that are like "I cut my finger, how do I know if I have to go to the hospital?" or "My doctor told me such-and-such, does that sound weird to you?"

You're talking about losing control of your motor skills & speech and then falling unconscious. It very well could have been a stroke. I understand not wanting to get into debt, but sparkling credit ain't gonna mean shit when you're dead or severely & permanently incapacitated from losing blood flow to your brain.
posted by dumbledore69 at 3:25 PM on October 26, 2007 [5 favorites]

Obviously, I'm with the above commenters, but I hope this was a transient cerebral ischemia, rather than a full-on stroke.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:31 PM on October 26, 2007

Kind of sounds like a seizure to me. Go to the doctor, like everyone else said! Hopefully by the time you read this, you'll have already gone.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 3:32 PM on October 26, 2007


Someone could have drugged your drink?

Stroke? Wow, that was a quick recovery!

nthing going to see a doctor now. Good luck to you.
posted by LoriFLA at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2007

Neurologist? "Doctor"? Fuck that, you call an ambulance and they need to get you to an ER.

I can't believe that you live in a country where a person has to think about calling 911 when something like this happens because she "doesn't have health care." This is shocking.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:47 PM on October 26, 2007 [11 favorites]

OK, I know you are not a cat. But my cousin's cat experienced several episodes that sound a lot like that (drooling uncontrollably, falling unconscious) before, um, dying within a week, and the vet diagnosed it as a genetic neurological disorder.

On the other end of the spectrum from near-death, it also sounds like it could be an inner ear thing. My other cousin had an inner ear infection that he battled for some time, and the symptoms involved dizziness/falling, extreme temperature sensations, etc.

So those ideas, plus the overwhelming stroke diagnoses here so far, are some to keep in mind when talking to the doctor.

I know you have to pick your doctor visits carefully, but this is a time to go.
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:54 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

(And yeah, don't wait for an appointment -- go to the ER and tell them what happened.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 3:55 PM on October 26, 2007

On the other end of the spectrum from near-death, it also sounds like it could be an inner ear thing.
I don't know. I've got a pretty serious inner ear thing, and it's never caused me to pass out for hours at a time. It's never interfered with my ability to talk, either. Honestly, this sounds like a brain thing, and I would not fuck around with it. Young women do get strokes.

Incidentally, you want to tell the people at the ER if you're on the pill or get migraines. Those are both stroke risk factors for young women.
posted by craichead at 4:01 PM on October 26, 2007

You know, debt is certainly scary, but it's survivable. If the worst that comes of you going to the hospital right away is that you find out you've gone for no good reason and now have a somewhat large bill to pay ... well, add me to the list of folks saying that would actually be a pretty darned good outcome here. At first I was a bit surprised at the thought of a young woman suffering a stroke, but just google 'stroke in young adults' to find all sorts of articles about it - here's one from '03 specifically about strokes in young women. The most concerning thing in it to me is the part about such things being unexpected even by many health care providers, so if you -have- gotten anything out of posting to the green before getting yourself to the ER, perhaps it's that you should now (hopefully) be equipped to ASK the docs to check you out for stroke signs if they don't suggest it themselves?

Best of luck to you and I hope you do seek medical attention immediately. I realize this isn't at the top of your priorities right now but if you could give us an update once you've been treated I know I for one would be glad to hear you're okay!
posted by zeph at 4:02 PM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

To me (2nd yr med student so don't take as medical advice) sounds like transient ischemic attack--mini stroke basically. Little young for it, but could be genetic predisposition going on as well. You'll definitely get a CT (maybe MRI) to see what's going on, and you need it--GO TO HOSPITAL regardless of being able to pay or not--they still required to treat. If get any more symptoms before you get there: 911 is your friend!
posted by uncballzer at 4:05 PM on October 26, 2007

On the other end of the spectrum from near-death, it also sounds like it could be an inner ear thing.

Also adding that I had a bad inner ear infection and it does make you walk like a drunk person but it all stops when you stay still. No passing out either, just dizziness and nausea.
posted by vacapinta at 4:22 PM on October 26, 2007

Not to add to the pile, but something quite similar to this happened to a friend of mine a few months ago. It was a stroke, but she got help immediately and is fine. You should do the same.

Are you still reading this? Go to the hospital!
posted by timetoevolve at 4:29 PM on October 26, 2007

Rabies? OK, probably not, I'm pretty sure you don't feel better (even temporarily) if it's rabies. So it's probably a stroke.
posted by anaelith at 4:33 PM on October 26, 2007

I've had migraines with similar symptoms.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:41 PM on October 26, 2007

For years, my brother and I had been suspecting our grandfather of having little strokes, or transient ischemic attacks or whatever. Recently, said grandfather had an MRI due to suspicious symptoms. It turned out my brother and I had been correct in our fears, unfortunately. And he was having symptoms of far less startling severity than yours.

Now he's on medication to help reduce the likelihood of future strokes, and he doesn't have a lot of serious or permanent damage from the strokes he has had. Thank lord. So please go to the emergency room, and don't scare or rationalize yourself into inaction, the way my grandfather most likely did.

And seriously, strokes are possible (if unlikely) at any age... my cousin had strokes as an infant, and it wasn't until he was a teenager that doctors realized that had been the cause of his bizarre babyhood symptoms.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:07 PM on October 26, 2007

God, go to the ER. This is why they have them. If you want to save $400 take a cab. Try to get the exact components for your meal from a friend, since this could also be shock induced from a massive allergic reaction.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:20 PM on October 26, 2007

Sounds like an epileptic seizure from here, not a stroke, but no way to tell for sure without more tests. You need to be in an E/R, not dicking around at home; until you have an idea of what caused this you should consider your life in jeopardy.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:26 PM on October 26, 2007

Would you please post a followup? after you get back from the urgent care clinic/ER/doctor's office? thanks.
posted by theora55 at 5:54 PM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

Some hospitals do have some funding set aside to help cover outrageously huge medical bills for people who can't afford to pay them. I know two young women in their 20's who have had insanely huge medical bills paid in full by services like this. One woman had a pacemaker put in, the other one had a benign brain tumor removed. You have to ask about it though.

Please go get checked out. I lost a young friend to an aneurysm this year. What she went through before she died sounds very similar to what happened to you, right down to the getting up after blacking-out and feeling okay.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:10 PM on October 26, 2007

I always feel bad for the people who get the stern MetaFilter talking-to about going to see a doctor when they don't have health insurance (thanks, America!) and know exactly how horrifying uninsured medical bills are.

OP, if you're still reading, I hope you take a deep breath, pick up the phone, and call your mom/older sister/level-headed friend, and say: "Listen, something happened to me, and I'm totally freaked out about the health implications and the financial implications, but I think I need to go to the ER. Can you please go with me?"

This will seem less insurmountable if you have someone in your corner to keep reassuring you that your health is the single most important thing going, and you can get through this.

Good luck.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:45 PM on October 26, 2007 [5 favorites]

posted by matteo at 6:51 PM on October 26, 2007

Follow-up from the OP:

I bit the bullet and went to the emergency room. Several expensive tests and six hours later, they diagnosed a seizure and referred me to a neurologist. I am no longer allowed drive, not that I would want to at the moment, anyway. Thanks for the concern.
posted by jessamyn at 6:56 PM on October 26, 2007

I can't believe that you live in a country where a person has to think about calling 911 when something like this happens because she "doesn't have health care." This is shocking.

As much as I hate to defend the health care system in the US, I am fairly confident that no hospital in the country is going to deny someone emergency medical care due to lack of insurance. They will treat you & bill you when you're better.

And yes, there are tons of assistance programs for people who cannot pay their hospital/doctors' bills.

Going to the hospital without insurance can wind up being expensive, but it isn't the end of the world. Fear of the hospital bill is certainly no reason to take a gamble with your life. Money comes and money goes, but you've only got one life.

I truly hope you are ok and that you have gotten checked out for peace of mind. If you have an update and wish to remain anonymous, please feel free to message me or send me an e-mail (myusername @ gmail) and I'll post it for you without revealing personal info. I know I am not the only one who's worried about you.
posted by tastybrains at 7:03 PM on October 26, 2007

Sigh, and that's why I should have previewed. I'm very glad that you got it checked out, OP.
posted by tastybrains at 7:04 PM on October 26, 2007

Thanks for the follow up.
posted by medusa at 9:58 PM on October 26, 2007

I've been following this thread and worrying about you all day. For what it's worth, I hope everything turns out to be okay. Thanks for following all the advice here to go get checked out.
posted by brain cloud at 10:25 PM on October 26, 2007

Thank you for the follow-up. I'm glad you went, despite the obvious difficulty ahead in paying for it. Luckily, there are some ways to make those costs more manageable.

When the bill comes, call the billing department immediately, and state in a straighforward (i.e. you don't need to beg or complain or threaten) manner that you have no insurance and limited financial resources. Most hospitals are prepared to negotiate. 1/2 off is a perfectly reasonable expectation; understand that you're being billed the "book rate" which NO INSURANCE COMPANY PAYS. They all have negotiated rates that are far, far lower. So insured patients' bills are "paid in full" at a small fraction of book rate. While many uninsured patients' bills are never paid at all. Believe me, the hospital will be delighted to work out something if it means they can close your account without paying a collections agency. Also, if it's a nonprofit hospital they are under increasing pressure to provide charity care to patients like you.

After reaching agreement on an across-the-board discount, request a payment plan to spread the remainder out. Again, they're happy just to know money will be coming in without hassle or addt'l expense. No big deal.

Third step is to read your bill carefully, and ask the billing rep for explanations of everything that you're not already absolutely sure is correct. Practically every hospital bill contains errors, and oddly enough they tend to be in the hospital's favor. Should be a pretty simple process to challenge any charges you're not sure about.

Even if you do find yourself falling behind, I hope you won't let the prospect of future bills stop you from getting needed care next time, either. Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy. Landlords and lenders know this, and often treat medical debt as a much lesser sin than other kinds of debt. As long as you're keep up your rent and credit card payments, it should be easy to demonstrate that you're exactly the kind of responsible person they want to do business with.

Good luck! And good health!
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:41 AM on October 27, 2007 [8 favorites]

nakedcodemonkey nailed that one shouldn't pay the rates that they'll bill. I had a motorcycle accident and was taken to an ER (and they had the nerve to take me to an out of network one). They messed up taking my insurance info from the card they had in their possession. I was billed some 6400 for ambulance, Xrays and other associated work.

When I gave them my insurance, while my insurance company only payed 10% for out of network ER's, they bill was knocked down to 3037, from which my insurance paid 10%.

It's fucking criminal that they charge more to the people who can least afford it.

I've since moved to Canada, and am never planning on moving back to the US.
posted by nobeagle at 8:12 AM on October 27, 2007

My girlfriend has Long-QT, a congenital heart defect that often goes undiagnosed. Here is what she had to say:

"I would really recommend having an EKG done, (it's just that 30 second test with the electrodes). I have something called Long Q-T syndrome. I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder twice, and it was years before this was discovered.

The most recent time, about 2 years ago I woke to get the phone, everything went black, I collapsed to the floor, couldn't speak and completely blacked out. I came to on the floor later, my knee bleeding, the phone across the room from when I'd lost control of my body. These spells are usually caused by sports, exhaustion, stress, or startle. My trigger is the phone, but others have different triggers.

You might have in fact had a seizure. I've had them a few times because of the Q-T. Because the heart is in chaos, and out of rhythm the brain becomes oxygen deprived, triggering a seizure. These seizures lead to many misdiagnoses--doctors first instinct is "seizure disorder," not "congenital heart condition."

My first instinct was stroke or seizure, since my body was so limp and felt like lead and it took me awhile to regain the ability to speak...felt so tired that I couldn't even walk, just layed around for a few hours. I was also told not to drive, and underwent a whole series of neurological tests to determine whether or not I had epilepsy. They found nothing. Because this isn't neurological...it's cardiac. My other episodes have occurred in sleep, and after drinking to excess once.

The Mayo Clinic has a good article on it here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/long-qt-syndrome/DS00434

If you do have Q-T, nothing they give you for seizures will help you. I am on beta blockers now to regulate my heart. Others get defibrillators installed. Beta Blockers cost $15 for 3 months supply...not going to break the bank. But determining whether or not you have Q-T is a costly/long process.

If you at least have the EKG, which they can do at any clinic, and it comes back with a prolonged Q-T interval, then you might have a good idea that this is it. If not, I'd say pursue something with the neurologist.

Oh yes, dehydration and lack of electrolytes or potassium can deplete the heart and make an episode more likely. Had you exercised a good deal the day before? Or drank a day or two before? Or not had many fresh fruits/vegetables for awhile? Or consumed several beverages with caffeine?

I really hope you get this figured out. Just wanted to let you know about Q-T since this sounds so reminiscent of everything I went through."
posted by elks at 4:24 PM on October 27, 2007

Sounds like a seizure to me, but it could be anything, really. You need to go to a doctor and start getting this thing looked into because it could be serious.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 7:24 AM on October 28, 2007

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