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,