Different Strokes
848 members326 posts

Subclavian Steals, anyone?

Hi, I've been wondering if any out there has had the same problems as me. A stroke but not as 'they' knew it, testing and assuming a stroke is caused by the usual, but what about the unusual ??.

About 8 years ago I collapsed at work and woke up in hospital. I found that I struggled to walk or stand up, had all the tests etc and they assumed I'd had a 'stroke' but didn't know why. I left hospital after 2 weeks or so and after 3 months did a phased return to work (mechanical engineer). Very frustrating as I couldn't remember how to do the job I'd been doing for 25 years or so. Another engineer (who I had trained up) had to 'retrain' me. I had been experiencing very short very 'sharp' head pains that came and went on an irregular basis for years before this episode. Gradually my work improved to my 'normal' experience, but I still kept having these random head pains, also my left hand was always cold. My doctor would always check my bp on my right arm and always maintained bp was ok and it was migraine. After 3 or 4 years I felt unwell and went to the Drs, different Dr, checked my bp on the left arm (the one I complained to the other Dr about) and found to be very little pulse and the blood going the wrong way. Sent direct to hospital, loads of tests etc, 2 week stay. It was only when I collapsed and ended up being surrounded by the crash team did they realise something not quite right. Just 2 people thought outside the box, a cardio consultant and a radiologist. From that they checked a slightly lower section other than head/neck and 'found it' radiographer said he'd only seen 1 other before and it was text book stuff. Anyway stent put in, bp equalised, no more random head pains (described as 'ice pick' pains) and all the symptoms of my 2 'strokes' gone. I was told the Drs always check bp on the right, why? Especially if I've got a problem on the left. If they'd checked the left when I originally had the cold left hand it could have been sorted before having 2nd 'stroke. I ended up being a bit of 'celebrity' as the student Drs were then requesting my notes so they could 'learn' from problems. It was nice aswell when a 'stroke' Dr from my first 'episode' came and aplogised for not figureing it out. Alarmingly the vascular dept refused to do anything and advised me to get a glove for the cold hand. So, there you have it, if the Drs can't understand why or how you had a stroke, you could be a 'celebrity' like me. Just a couple of months ago I was told by another stroke Dr who'd remembered reading my notes (she was looking after my mother) said I was in only 2%-3% of a global population, really, could this be right?.

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