low carb, recovery, stroke, Syncope, T1d, Uncategorized, VSG, weight loss

This episode of Dawn’s Sh*tshow life brought to you by the letter “S”

Hi Friends,

Warning: this is a LONG post. Got lots to say. 

I haven’t been AS active on social media as I typically am because I’ve spent the last week or so recovering from a concussion.   I am fine now, but feel the need to explain why/how it happened to my friends and loved ones so that it does not happen to those I care about.  It is both an embarrassing, yet eye opening experience for me and feel I need to share.  I live my life pretty transparently.  I am pretty much an open book.

All my unfortunate or funny stories about my life typically start with: “So there I was, minding my own business…”  And I was!  Teresa (my sister) and I have recently decided that my life could easily be a sit-com and we’ve nicknamed my episodes “Dawn’s Shitshow Life.” This episode is brought to you by the letter “S”

Friday the 12th, I traveled to Charlotte with my sister and nephew and stayed the night.  They had tickets to a basketball game and planned to pick up their new puppy the following morning.  I was happy to tag along because I have friends that live in Charlotte, and planned to have dinner with them Friday night.

While Teresa and Robbie went to the game, I met my friends Heather and Mindy for dinner.  (BTW- Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in the Belmont area of Charlotte is FANTASTIC!)

While at Nellie’s, I had a great (keto-friendly) meal, and had wine with my dinner.  I had 4 glasses of wine – sounds like a lot but they were small pours…maybe 4-5 oz each.  And if you know me at all, you know I love wine.  And over the course of 2-2.5 hours I was at dinner, that’s not a huge amount.

Mindy took me back to my hotel about 10-10:30.  I was in bed by 11.

At 3:30 I woke up to go to the restroom.  That’s when the world went black-literally.

While in the bathroom, I stood up and immediately fell to the ground.  I don’t remember actually falling, but remember waking up on the cold floor, shivering, with my back to the bathtub and my face toward the toilet.  I got up, reached for the door, and immediately fell again.  Teresa asked from the other side of the door if I was alright, because she’d heard the commotion both times I fell.  I answered with no urgency that I was fine.  I didn’t feel badly…Did I think it was odd that I passed out?  Yep.  But I couldn’t verbally tell her.  I walked to the bed and this time she SAW me fall.  It’s as if my legs just gave out from under me.  Down I went again, hitting the furniture on the way down.  “DAWN MARIE!!! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” The urgency in her voice was bone chilling.    AGAIN- I said that I was fine, and why was she asking?  She explained that I’d fallen.  I asked ….”Teresa, Am I on the floor again?” Indeed I was.

I am going to tell you that I’ve witnessed scary shit happen to other people- but this is the most bizarre thing to ever happen to ME.  I felt weird.  I had a terrible headache and was kind of confused.  Because I suffered a head injury as an infant, because I suffered a concussion as a teenager, and because my husband had a concussion last year, I am very sensitive for anyone having head trauma. Teresa took me to the ER, which is the first time I’d ever heard the word “Syncope.” Syncope x 3 was what the ER personnel told the ER nurse as she wheeled me back to triage.  Hell if I knew what syncope was, but I was fixin’ to learn all about it.

Definition of syncope :1 : loss of consciousness resulting from insufficient blood flow to the brain : faint

I go through the events of the prior evening with the nurse and the ER doctor.  From triage, they do a chest scan and take lots of blood for testing.  On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain, I rated the headache about a 5.  I had an EKG and a CT Scan of my head.  The 30 minutes between the CT and the doctor coming to see me felt like HOURS.  I just KNEW by the pain I was in that he was gonna tell me I had cracked my head open…had a tumor, aneurism…somethin’ bad about to happen!  I just knew it.

Fortunately, I did not have ANY of those.  Just a concussion.  However, the ER doctor had some private questions for me and asked my sister and nephew to leave the room.  We all thought that was odd.  ER doctor listens to my heart, asks how I am feeling and asks if I have anything additional to tell him about the events the prior night.  I give him an odd look and sheepishly answer “no.”  He asked if I take Adderall or any other amphetamine. I answer NO.  He asks if perhaps I did street drugs last night?  I answered HELL NO?! He explained that I tested positive for amphetamines. 


I only take one prescription and have been taking it for years.  I did however, start taking a weight loss supplement about 2.5 weeks prior.  I show him what it is – nothing in it screams bad contents.  He explains that I was dehydrated and was a little low on potassium.  Our care plan is to give me some fluids via IV and some potassium.  They want to keep me for observation and have an echocardiogram.  By this time, I sent my sister and Robbie to pick up their puppy. Jason and Haley will come and stay with me and take me home Sunday.  When they arrived, I sweet talked the nurse into letting me go home with them Saturday afternoon if I promise to be a good girl and get an echo Monday.  They agreed that I was out of immediate danger and let me go.

We left there thinking my body just had created the perfect little shit storm: already dehydrated+ stimulant in the supplement+ tannins in the wine= syncope.  That was the diagnosis.  But I wasn’t buying it.  I have fainted in the past.  I have had bottles of wine in the past and never lost consciousness. I suspected something different happened.

What I failed to mention to the doctor didn’t seem important at the time.  But it turned out to be VERY important.  From the time Mindy dropped me off at the hotel to the time I met up with my sister and nephew, I was alone in the hotel’s street-level bar for about 15-20 minutes.  It was warm that day, so the side doors were open.  It was Uptown Charlotte on a Friday night, so it was really busy. I ordered a beer and saw the bartender open it. BUT- I turned my back to the bar to watch the band that was playing.  My back was turned to the beer, the side doors.  LOTS of foot traffic around me.  Rarely am I ever in a bar alone.  I did not practice good self-defense., as I was looking at my phone, looking at the band and drank about half the beer.

I met my sister and Robbie in the bar entrance and was fine.  How do you go from walking, talking, and functioning at 10-11pm to losing consciousness 3 times just hours later? My answer is that I think someone put something in my drink. I didn’t really think about it until the next day when I mentioned it to my sister, and then to my husband.  He thought there was no way it was possible.  But my sister, like me- suspected that it happened because she SAW the state I was in.  Imagine walking into an invisible wall and just falling with all of your body weight to the ground.

My back is covered with black and blue bruises from mid-section to my tailbone.  My neck felt like invisible hands were wrapped around me, as if to strangle me.  My head hurt all last week from the impact.  The confusion lasted for a couple of days.  And any screen time, whether it was from my computer or phone, seemed to make the headache return.  I couldn’t read spreadsheets.  I couldn’t bear to watch TV.  All I could do was sleep and do minor things in my house. No driving, either.

I should also mention that when I returned home, I visited my family doctor.  I showed her the packaging of the supplement I was taking. She also agreed that most of the ingredients were plant based. There were some natural stimulants, but nothing in it screamed to her that it was bad. So 2 doctors agreed that the supplement was not likely the culprit, and my dehydration levels were not SO low that they should have knocked me on my behind. Let’s say your dehydration levels are 1-5.  Mine was a 3.7.  Not terrible.

SO- the moral of this episode of Dawn’s Shitshow Life is:

  • Don’t take supplements that your doctor doesn’t know about- JUST in case they are bad for you. Why was I taking them to being with, you may ask…especially since I have had weight loss surgery?  Because GUILT! Guilt of gaining 25 pounds since last March is such a heavy burden.  I had a “Come to Jesus” talk with myself while in the ER.  Weight Loss Surgery is the pinnacle of choices when it comes to weight loss.  I made that choice and PAID for that choice out of pocket.  My husband tells me to stop letting the guilt get to me and who cares about the money?  The money is not important.  My health is important.  I often say I  have reasons for the gain.  But they are often excuses.  I keep 3 humans in my home alive each day.  And I am not exaggerating when I say sometimes that is a real chore.  A type 1 diabetic who is lazy about checking her sugars, a stroke patient who is still finding his way back to good health…and me…a WLS patient who needs to remember rules instead of breaking them!
  • Drink all the water! I already drink at least 80oz of water a day. But when I am doing low carb, I require more water.  And if I am having any kind of wine or beer, I now order a water to go with it.  So what if I spend more time in the restroom!  And I am not taking that supplement anymore.  And I will never take another one.  I promised Jason I would not go back to a low carb diet until after my physical/ blood work comes back.
  • BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS IN A BAR!  Bar, restaurant, wherever beverages are being served. Especially if you are a woman and especially if you are alone!  If this can happen to a 49 year old woman, it can happen to ANYONE!  Did you know Charlotte is the human trafficking capital in North Carolina?  What if my sister hadn’t come to meet me at the bar and walk back to my room with me?  The “what if’s” haunt me each time I lay my head down at night.  I keep repeating the events in my head. The waking up after each fall is startling to me.  I hate that I am so naive sometimes.  I am so trusting.  Now, when I go out with my husband, or even to lunch/dinner with friends, I find myself studying the room.  I take my drink, even if it is water, with me. Or I will ask my friend to keep their eyes on it while I am in the restroom.  I hate this distrust that I all of a sudden feel. 

Please use my experience to help you going forward.  I am lucky I didn’t really hurt myself.  I am really lucky my sister was with me and was able to help me.  While we waited for the results of that CT scan last Saturday morning, I prayed those big prayers.  Like the one I prayed when Haley was in the hospital with her T1D diagnosis.  The one where I prayed with all my might for my mother to fight breast cancer- and she did.  And the one where I got down on my knees in a dirty hospital floor and begged Jesus to help my husband recover from his stroke…and again, my prayers were answered.  I prayed Saturday to please let it not be anything serious.  And it wasn’t.  I feel incredibly blessed for His mercies.  And if you’re reading, I feel blessed to have your attention on this post so that this does not happen to YOU.

Feeling especially blessed and in God’s favor,



Little bit of life update

WOW! I haven’t written since last APRIL?   Nine months of nothing written.  But you know me, between then and now, I’ve got plenty to say…I just haven’t had the time to write it down.  We are currently “snowed in” here in the Raleigh area with a whopping 2 inches of snow.  That’s right, friends…2 inches of snow can turn a bustling town into a ghost town, especially when the town is small and live outside the city limits.  Snow plows don’t come out our way all that often.  Classes in our local schools and universities were closed today and will be tomorrow.  So for now, we are just going to enjoy the winter weather, which will be gone in a couple of days.

Since last April, so much has happened! Lots of good, good things. And lots of things that are not bad, but not the best, either.

First- my husband, Jason is doing very well! I use words like “amazing” and “remarkable” because those are words that come to mind easily when I describe his progress from the debilitating stroke he suffered over a year ago.  Though he’s fairly independent with many things, and for the most part, he is healthy- we have some struggles, still.

Last April when I wrote, I mentioned he was back to work on a therapeutic level.  At the time, it was important for him to return to an environment he used to function in on a daily basis to help him remember his former life and responsibilities.  He’d go 2-3 times a week to hang around and re-acclimate himself with his team, his office, customers, tasks, things like that.  It was going well until about the first week of May.  We’d gone out to an early movie at a shopping center nearby.  During our walk from the car to the theater, Jason unfortunately got tripped up in one of those outdoor rubber mats outside of a restaurant and did a full on face plant into the sidewalk.  His right side was affected by the stroke, and to date, he still walks with kind of a lag, or lazy leg on that side.  That foot got tangled up in the outdoor mat and he took a dive and hit his head.  Messed up his brand new glasses, scuffed up his nose and forehead and blood spilled everywhere.  He hit his forehead directly on the sidewalk.  And of course, I begged to take him to the E/R and of course, he refused.  He didn’t feel dizzy and wasn’t in pain.  And I monitored him periodically that night for fear that he had a concussion.  I’d wake him every couple of hours to make sure he could still communicate with me, and he could.  During the following days, he still was trucking along like usual.  But then we noticed changes in his demeanor and his level of effort.  All of a sudden, it was like the light we had happily seen return in his eyes was diminishing.  He could no longer sleep well.  He was fatigued, irritated and in a kind of fog for weeks.  That lasted until about July.  We had all kinds of tests run from bloodwork to a sleep study.  The CAT scan showed no injury to the brain, but to date, we still think he suffered a concussion and it just took time to heal itself.  July and August brought us back to him flourishing once more.  But those months from May to July were not fun ones.  He was really down and I kept wondering how to motivate him without pushing too hard.  Eventually he found his balance and started working again. Coincidentally, during   this time, we had a freak thing happen with his pacemaker.  He’d been using his weed eater in our back yard and got overheated.  His pacemaker shocked him 3 times within about 5 minutes.  We thought for sure he’d had a full blown heart attack.  After another trip to the ER, we learned that we needed a bit of tweaking to his ICD to increase the  beats per minute threshold.  The meds he’d been taking make his heart beat too fast.  It was a fluke thing and was fixed almost immediately, but damn, what a scary event to happen as he was still healing from the fall.

Over the summer, he continued to resume his former life.  And to date, he is at work most days.  Sometimes I think he wanted to go so often to get away from our house:)  We spent A LOT of time together.  A LOT.  LOL.  He needed to see his co-workers and be outside of the confines of 5745 Stone Crystal:)   We started resuming fun things, too…like visiting our favorite restaurants and breweries.  I have often said that we have spent the last several months celebrating Jason’s return to good health while I sabotage my own. The last time I wrote, I hadn’t really gained a lot of weight, but I hadn’t put in much effort to lose, either.

By the time Jason returned home in February, I was doing really well with my diet. But once the running around from appointment to appointment stopped and my body was no longer in crisis mode, it’s like a night and day flip of a switch.  And not a good one.  Of the 60 pounds I’d managed to lose, I have gained about 25 back because I am eating and drinking all my feelings.  My life has been a big ball of stress for a year now.  That is a valid reason.  It’s not really an excuse, but it’s really no reason for me to abandon my previous path to wellness, either.  So, friends…I sit here tonight talking to y’all while resuming watching my carb intake and trying to force myself to exercise again.  I’d be a big liar if I said I want to eat right and exercise.  What I really want is an endless supply of margaritas and loaded nachos.  But in reality, I need some water with Crystal Light and some celery:)  A couple of friends of mine who had WLS in the past told me that once they started resuming drinking beer, that is when their weight gain started.  At the time I didn’t drink beer.  But over the last few months, I’d experiment with one light beer, then another time a heavier beer and more frequently.  Please- if you are reading this and you have had bariatric surgery- let me tell you – DO NOT be so naive to think you cannot gain  weight back simply because your stomach can’t hold as much.  I am living proof that it can happen the MINUTE you let your guard down.  Once your guard is down, it keeps sinking lower.  It’s harder to raise yourself back up and make good food choices again!  

I seem to do better with exercise if I have something to train for, and I do.  On March 18th, I am going to do the Tobacco Road Half Marathon.  Again.  I did it in 2013 and had intended to do it in 2014 but had Achilles surgery that year and couldn’t do it.  I had actually registered to do it last year, but couldn’t because of Jason’s stroke and recovery.  This particular race is important to me because #JDRF is one of the benefactors of the race, and as y’all know, my teenage daughter is a type 1 diabetic.  I also have a T1D cousin.  The money raised for this goes to research.  My kid needs a cure. If you’d like to read about the special TID’s in my life, you can visit here: http://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR?px=2186927&fr_id=7312&pg=personal

I started my training last week and will continue as much as possible.  I don’t love to run, and will likely have to walk/jog a good part of the race.  But it feels good to return to exercise and quite frankly, it’s something I can do and clear my head for a while. I’ve been running around like a crazy woman for a year and finally, life is slowing down in some ways.  I am thankful for the change.  Honestly, I am thankful that Jason has recovered so much that he feels confident in spending a little bit of time without me.

These last few months have been filled with pure joy with huge highsBut also filled with valleys of debilitating depression.  I don’t want to dwell on those “down” moments too much, but I have never been reminded more of God’s love for me or my family than I have this past year.  The power of prayer and that my family has received has been so overwhelming.  Even during the depressive episodes that seemed to last from moments to weeks at a time, I always knew there was hope for Jason and for myself.

I have a new appreciation for caregivers.  Lord Jesus…the patience one must have.  The worry that we aren’t doing a good job with our patient, or at our “real” jobs.  Because while I was away being Caregiver, someone on my team had to fill in for me. The worry that all the attention we give to our patient diverts the attention we used to give to our kids, or ourselves.  The worry that we aren’t doing enough.  And also, trying to motivate without seeming pushy.  I’d try to urge Jason to write with his affected hand, or do a word search puzzle for activity.  Read aloud to me, and let me read to him.  Digging our heels in and saying NO when it’s needed.  Listening to their frustrations but also enjoying their victories.  Guilt in knowing you need some “me” time, but there’s really no time for that! Learning to communicate all over again was exhilarating and heartbreaking at the same time. At times Jason would say things that he didn’t mean to say.  I would find them hurtful and intentionally said.  But I’d learn quickly that aphasia is still very much a thing, and just because he says something does not mean I should take it the way it sounds.  He still gets words turned around.  His vocabulary is great and most of the time what he says makes perfect sense.  But I also find that he has no filter:) And that is not a bad thing.  What comes up just seems to come out in whatever way he feels at the time.

Since I wrote last year, some great things happened with my daughters, too.   My oldest, who is 26, graduated from Culinary Schools with honors! She’s worked in the food industry since she was 15.  Hollyann has a passion for all things art and food is a passion for her.  She works in banquets and catering for a prominent country club nearby.  She works her little butt off!  She’s decided she’s found “the one” she wants to make a life with, too.  I am proud of her work ethic and desire to pursue her passion.

My youngest, Haley, graduated from high school last June.  Given the trying Senior year she had, her graduation was a huge milestone.  Though it was Jason who physically had the stroke, it was Haley who suffered the most, I think.  She spent a lot of time home.  Alone.  She struggled already with anxiety and depression prior to the stroke.  So when the stroke happened, the anxiety heightened and the depression became more severe.  It is fortunate and UNfortunate for me that I know how that felt.  Though our depression situation is individually different, the way we learn and heal from it has been similar.  Together, we’ve seen a wonderful therapist who is helping us through the dark times.  Our code word is “sunshine.”  We will often ask each other, “Is there any sunshine today?”  Sometimes our answers are “no”, ” partly cloudy” or ” it’s a sunny day” or sometimes we just give each other “the look” …like don’t even ask.  Thankfully there are more sunny days than there used to be.  I am proud of her diligence to find the sun.  She starts a 2 year college transfer program at a local community college this month.  While she figures out what she wants to do, she’s taking college classes at a slower pace so we don’t find ourselves overwhelmed and cause her anxiety to worsen. The older she gets, the more she reminds me of myself at that age.

Haley, Jason and I were able to join our ‘Framily” from West Virginia last September for our annual beachreunion!  We were so thrilled to go.  We stayed the entire week and enjoyed every minute of it.  It was Jason’s first time being on vacation since the stroke.  He jokingly said he’d been on a vacation from December to February while in the hospital.  I reminded him that was no vacation! He was working hard on his recovery during that time.  He deserved some time away that did not include any hospitals, doctor visits or talking about INR testing or co-pays:)  The group of friends we go with are true friends who’ve had my back prior to this- but long before this, as well.  (Shout out to my favorite mermaids! I love you girls!)

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, too!  Realizing that we spent Christmas and the New Year in ICU and then rehab last year made this year even more of a celebration.  I was glad to see 2017 go.  2018 brings more promise and hope for my family.  I have never been as thankful as I have been this last year.

So there you have it..I’m including a few pictures from the past year.  I can’t figure out why they are posting at the top of the post, as opposed to where I really want them.  But ain’t nobody got time to figure it out!

I hope you – whoever is reading this in my little corner of blogging  world, have a wonderful and healthy 2018.  Thank you for reading.  You are a blessing<3


Hugs all around!