**UPDATE**Doctor says not a TIA, but I think because I'm young they are brushing me off: Opinions?

I can't remember if I put this followup question on here so if I had I apologize.

So a month or so ago I had what I believe may have been a TIA. My father had a small stroke in his early 40s. I am only 34.

My doctor says I could not have had a TIA because the leg that became weak would have collapsed all the way. He says only having weakness in that leg, without a complete collapse, is not how a TIA/ stroke behaves. Really? I feel that may not be accurate. I believe my leg did not collapse all the way because the TIA had passed and my leg did not have the chance to collapse all the way. The event was very fast.

Here is my story:

I was standing in a shop, standing squarely, facing forward. Feet firmly planted. I had not just gotten up or anything that would cause dizziness. I had been looking at an object for a few minutes.

Suddenly (and it all happened in about 30 seconds) my left leg started side stepping repeatedly, sort of staggering, making my stance wider and wider. In those few seconds my brain literally thought "why is my left leg stepping out to the side without me telling it to?". Then I realized what was happening. It wasn't "stepping" out. It was staggering, trying to hold me up but failing. Then, I was sinking down into my left side. There was nothing I could do but slowly sink down, the trunk of my body folding down over my left leg. My hands never reached forward to hold me up. They did nothing. There was a table right in front of me. When a normal person falls, their hands will hold onto something in front of them as they are collapsing to prevent the fall. All the while I was just a passenger in this event. I could do NOTHING to prevent what was happening.

A lady was walking past me and I felt embarrassed almost bumping her. It was as if that side couldn't hold me up. I never fully collapsed though. My body stopped collapsing once it was parallel to the floor. Then I stood back up slowly and it was gone.

I didn't feel like I was going to pass out. It was completely different. There was no darkness closing in around me. I've had that feeling once as a child. It was not this. It was like I didn't have command over my body for a moment and it was weak.

And when I say weak, this is an assumption. My body was giving me NO feedback at all. For example, A year ago I tried an adult gymnastics class (I know- lol!). After doing 20 or 30 cartwheels my arms started shaking and I could *feel* they were weak and would literally fold under me as I did more cartwheels. I told the coach I could no longer keep going as my muscles were tired and fatigued. This was not that. There was no feeling of fatigue or weakness that way. As I slumped down to that one side I got no information from my body which scared me. No pins and needles. No messages of fatigue or numbness, no messages of weakness. I was only confused why I had slumped to the side without my body giving me information as to why. It was scary. Just my leg failing and my body slumping.

Afterwards I was very tired and light headed. I cannot say for certain if this was actually from that event, or just being shaken up from that event. I walked around the store and tried to call my husband. I was very shaken up. I eventually composed myself and walked back to my car. Drove home (3 minutes away). I went inside. Sat down. When I got up my legs felt heavier a little for the next 20 minutes or so.

4 hours later I decided to go into the hospital and get checked. When the dr. gave me normal routine exam, touch his fingers my nose etc I passed perfectly (no wonder there, the TIA had passed). They ruled out a stroke (only with blood test and ECG/ also very simple neurological test give: touch your finger to nose, push again my hands/ pull my hands. So really they didn't rule it out at all) and the doctor was very adamant that it could be MS and said I would need to get a follow up with a neurologist.

A week later I went to my neurologist. He said MS symptoms would last longer. He did not examine me at all and dismissed me. He said it was just a virus or something we will never know. Then he said, if you had weakness if you leg like that, I could have never paused for a moment parallel to the floor like that. I would have collapsed all the way. To stop st that position requires strength he said. I'm not sure I completely buy this though. I've heard of many people having weakness for varying amounts of time. Can't weakness be in varrying degrees? Does my leg, not completely collapsing all the way, holding me parallel to the floor, disqualify me somehow from having had a TIA?

I asked to be sent in for an MRI anyway. So he ordered an MRI of my brain and neck. Both results showed nothing: clear.

Any people with similar experiences of weakness that still allowed them to have some strength would be so appreciated. I feel a TIA is being ruled out on that premise alone and I'm not sure that is proper.

I'm thinking of going for a second opinion. I want to make sure that I get all tests done etc, like echocardiogram (atrial fibrillation runs in my family), in case something did cause a TIA and I could be warming up to a stroke.

Thanks for reading.

*****SEE UPDATE in this post******

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30 Replies

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  • An MRI scan is the best thing we have, if it comes back negative with no markers, then I'd STOP WORRYING. But this is only the opinion of a stroke survivor, the people you asked.

  • Thank you for your reply.

    The limitations of the MRI test for TIAs, from what I've read, is that TIAs leave no lasting damage and no evidence on MRIs. You could only see evidence of them in action but with many ranging from seconds (like alleged one) to hours, getting a scan in that time slot is rare. So my MRI only was to make sure there was no issue in my brain/spine about to make an actual stroke occur soon.

    I am concerned though that if my TIA (if that's what it was) originated in say another part of my body from say a vascular issue or heart issue then I am concerned that in the future I could get a real stroke down the line.

  • From my experience, STROKES leave tell-tale damage that can be seen on MRI's. Never having had a TIA I cannot say.

    What with mine being a hemorrhagic stroke, the outcome is the same, the process somewhat different.

    Don't smoke, don't drink, don't overeat, don't worry (this list can be added to).

    Don't worry.

  • Yes that's what I've heard. Strokes leave telltale signs and can be seen on scans, thus giving the sufferer side effects. TIAs don't leave any trace and no side effects but are to be treated seriously and steps need to be taken to find out how best to prevent a full on stroke. Which is why I am a bit nervous and needing an second opinion here .

  • Only 40% of people who have a tia go on to have a stroke. Like Tony I've never had a Tia but I have had 3 strokes and your doctor is talking nonsense about your leg. My last stroke was on 3/2/17 and it affected my right side, my right leg was affected but it didn't collapse as I managed to drag myself to the loo. At hospital I was standing but not normally I had a distinct tilt to the right like the leaning tower of Pisa. They tried telling me it couldn't be a stoke as I had an Inr of 4 but I insisted they do an Mri and that confirmed it was a stroke. Now that is scary, taking warfarin, having a high Inr and still having a stroke and dealing with doctors who don't have a clue tbh.

  • Hello. Thank you so much for your reply. That's interesting to know you retained the ability to stand as well.

    Tell me what was your leg like: Numb? Weak? Both?

    Also your whole right side was affected? How about face?

    I truly feel I had something go very wrong. But I think lacked face involvement or numbness that make it more clear cut to diagnose.

    Hearing accounts of people with similar experiences is very helpful

    Thanks so much

  • Ok my face has never been affected and nor has my speech, I've always managed to touch my nose with my finger too and although my second stroke left me with left sided weakness I'm not even slightly weak, I have trouble controlling finer movements. The last stroke affecting the right didn't leave my leg weak or numb but I couldn't control it which was why I ended up dragging it. It's hard to explain but I've never lost feeling. The first stroke might explain it better, I'd try to tuck my hair behind my ear and slap myself in the face instead. We're all affected differently though, I've never had any of the fast symptoms, my biggest issue has been judging spaces, height of steps etc. and standing upright without tipping left or right depending on what side is affected.

  • Despite my after effects, my brain scans are all clear! The human brain is somewhat beyond total understanding by the human brain itself! What we make we can understand, we, however, were evolved over millions of years and cannot hope to unravel the mystery of our creation and functionality so easily.

  • TIA's have taken, my ability to wink with my left eye, all feeling in my left scalp, the ability to twitch my left ear, tense my left pectoral muscle or my left buttock! This is a permanent state following several TIA's! I sggest you don't believe all you either hear or read! Base your belief on experience as it is normally backed by physical self-evidence.

  • Could it be more like a problem with sciatic nerve damage??

  • Moo196: it's possible. Who knows. The thing that struck me though is my arms did nothing. That was what was so weird and scary. I don't remember if they were by my side or out in front. They just did nothing. Furthermore, I did nothing either. I was just a passenger getting no feedback from my body. My upper torso and motionless arms just folded over my thigh. That was what was so bizarre. To me this probably separates it from sciatica but who knows maybe it's some other nerve damage farther up in my neck. Or some other nerve disorder. Or could have been, like my doctor said, some passing virus.

    Tuscon : so do your brain MRIs confirm all three strokes? And you have lasting damage? I'm really sorry to hear that.

    Thank you for more details on your leg. That is very much what my leg was like. No numbness. No tingling. Just...nothing. Nothing but it not holding me up and working. I think if it had continued that way, and I had had to walk, I think for sure it would have dragged. There is no way I could have walked like that.

  • I have ongoing issues from stroke 2 which was 4 years ago and yes all 3 were confirmed by Mri. My strokes are caused by an auto immune condition that causes my blood to clot too readily.

  • I'm sorry to hear that. :( thank you for sharing your experience with me though.

  • Anyone have weakness that didn't result in total weakness and without numbness tingling?

  • Anyone else have an experience to share?

  • I don't know but I've had a full stroke, and I did the looking in the distance thing.

    A friend of mine just had a bit of numbness on her arm and hand.

    If it was me, I'd have another second opinion x

  • Thanks for your reply.

    So was your only symptom looking into the distance? I've heard of that kind of stroke. How long were u like that?

  • It probably was about a minute or two.

    Very much of an out of body experience. I knew that something was different but obviously didn't know why.

    After that I pretty much collapsed and was in and out of consciousness. I did speak a few words.

    Have you asked about epilepsy?

    I think you're right about being worried. I have stroke in my family. Don't mess about with this. It's really horrible x

  • When you were staring, did you know you were? Or were you told later? Do you remember having free flowing thought?

    As for epilepsy, I've read that epilepsy (as well as seizures and migraines) typically have positive symptoms, while strokes are considered negative. That is to say:

    "Positive symptoms indicate an ‘excess’ of central nervous system neurone electrical discharges and may be visual (eg, flashing lights, zigzag shapes, lines, shapes, objects), somatosensory (eg, pain, paraesthesia) or motor (eg, jerking limb "

    "Negative symptoms indicate a loss or reduction of central nervous system neurone function (eg, loss of vision, hearing, sensation or limb power)."

    Thanks so much. I'd love to hear from others with any similar experience that either was like mine or did not have the typical "FAST" symptoms (as they are called).

  • I was staring but I didn't know why. I think I was trying to make sense of what was going on. It probably did feel that my brain was blocked. If that makes sense.

    There were no symptoms leading up until the staring episode. Then my face, arm and leg stopped working. I couldn't see or know that was a problem, until I was told later.

    I had to have private neurological tests to find out what Ive had a stroke. With neurology you get specialities so look for a tia and stroke consultant.

    Good luck.

  • i can understand that. With me i just felt like I was a passenger. I had no feedback and was confused. I was folding over, watching leg stagger but could not understand why. Very creepy.

    I have made an appointment to get 2nd opinion with stroke specialist neurologist. In everyone's opinion does a stroke neurologist provide much better insight than regular neurologist? I ask because guy who said I did not have a stroke was a neurologist in another specialty. Not stroke.

    I am bringing MRI stuff at the request of the new stroke neuro's office. They lady said they request it as stroke specialists can see things radiology misses or other neurologists miss. Is that accurate? How often does this happen?

    Thanks so much!

  • Hello. I had a medullary stroke around 15 months ago. I had none of the FAST symptoms. I woke in the night with a very bad headache and couldn't swallow. Paramedic thought it was a chest infection!!!!! Luckily the hospital diagnosed it quickly as a medullary stroke (Wallenberg). It did show on a cat scan and also a MRI. My main thought on this is not all stokes have the FAST symptoms. I hope you are well and get the answers you need

  • Thanks for your story.

    That sounds scary. If I can ask, how old are you? You must feel lucky to have such a good medical team that figured it out quickly.

  • This all happened on my 57 birthday. It was scary and I think the frightening thing is these things happen out of the blue. How is your blood pressure, cholesterol levels. If these are high they can lead to a stroke. I think if you are not happy see someone else. Take care

  • Both my blood pressure and cholesterol are perfect. But I do have pelvic congestion syndrome which means I have varicose veins deep in my pelvis. I wonder if these could make clots.

    I've have made an appointment for a second opinion this week. We shall see how it goes. They are stroke specialist.

  • Hi,

    As one who has now suffered seven of the ten most don't survive, I fee I know Tia's perhaps better than an observer in a white coat! Al my Tia's have been different in onset, duration, effect, and after effect! My first sign which is common to all is a failing of cognitive functions. I can think logical thoughts which don't belong in the dimension I'm living in and which don't relate to this life! My ability to perform a simple task like dial a number on my phone is none existent, to me its a piece of plastic and nothing else. If I feel strange, the first thing I do is try to spell out difficult words, which in a TIA is impossible. You speak of weakness, they say it is total, I say not! I now it's on its way, yet can drive easily to a safe place as though on autopilot. Then I switch off, relax and let things take their course which can be up to 4 hours before my brain reboots and I regain functionality of what's left unaffected. Don't forget the body is only a vehicle for the soul to inhabit as long as it continues to function. Just like being in a car, if it goes downhill you are along for the ride, so try and relax whilst the outcome becomes apparent! The body is far more complex and its brakes are very different both in function and effect! Dr's are only human after all, they are not Gods and can be mistaken even though they refuse to admit it! I hope this helps, good luck!

  • Hi does the neurologist try to find out why you're having all these episodes?

  • **UPDATE**

    So I went to a stroke specialist type of neurologist.

    She confirmed it does it fact sound like I had a TIA or a small seizure. She said either would fit that mold. She also said that my leg not collapsing all the way means nothing. She said, as I thought, it did not collapse all the way because it was right at the end of my episode, and thus I paused there for a second or two, the event ended, and I was able to stand back up.

    After reviewing my MRI imaging she is sending me for an MRA of my neck and brain to check the carotid artery. I had thought the last MRI contained this. I had even asked the last neuro to do this test. I just found out he had not. That makes me feel rather sad but I'm glad she is taking it more seriously. She also drew blood to check my B12 and cholesterol and I also will get a EEG to make sure no seizure spikes.

    She tested my reflexes and ability to recall facts, testing my memory. She also asked me if there was anything like this. And there had been another odd event I had 2 years ago around the same time of year oddly that I just brushed off but it bothered me.

    So two years ago I woke up and was half dreaming at the time. I remember I had had a weird dream and it woke me up. I sat up, my husband woke up. It was early morning and I was trying to tell my husband something half asleep that made no sense really about the dream. But all I remember is as I was trying to say something to my husband I would try to get out a word then and....NOTHING. As if all words have vanished from my brain. It was so surreal. My brain was not just blank like when speaking and trying to find the "right" word. There WAS NO WORDS. Like someone had erased my mind. I tried SO hard to say ANYTHING, but nothing came. I couldn't even describe what I was feeling into words. nothing. I tried again and again. But it was like my brain would stop dead in its tracks over and over again. I remember crying and getting very upset but I couldn't speak. Finally after a couple minutes I was able to speak again.

    She said this, again, could be TIA, small seizure or a kind of sleep paralysis. If the two events are connected there must be a cause and hopefully I can find it.

    Thanks so much for reading.

  • Glad you are getting some answers. Take care

  • Are you still around?

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