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451975 tn?1372332199

Stroke Like Symtoms, Intermittent Loss of speech & Balance

About 1 1/2 yrs. ago, I started experiencing, at the age of 49, severe vertigo, visual problems, nausea and left sided weakness. I was tested for everything imaginable, no diagnosis and yet I went from being physically fit and a chef, to bedridden and sleeping 20 hours a day, because of all the gravol I had to take to get some general relief of my symptoms.  

This past February, still holed up in the house, I experienced the normal 'weakness' on my left side but it progressed to total paralysis, inability to speak and inability to swallow.  My husband gave me an aspirin when he realized I couldn't respond to him and took me to the hospital 5 min. from our home.  I was treated as a stroke patient and sent to the downtown Toronto Stroke Centre.  Unfortunately, by the time I arrive by ambulance, (about 3 hrs. later), it was too late to administer the 'stroke buster' shot that was planned.  After about 4 hours, slowly, I began to regain feeling in my left fingers and forearm.  I felt a burning/pins & needles sensation and within that time frame, my speech started coming back, though slurry and jumbled.  I ended up being sent back to my original hospital when in the ambulance, the whole episode started again.  It was like that, back and forth, speaking, drooling, paralysis until the next day around noon.  Again, every test was done (MRI, CT scan), 3 times, looking for the cause.

I am now much better and not needing nearly the amount of gravol that I used to but I cannot drive because I have lost my depth perception, ability to judge speed or distance, and am clumsy.  I walked 5 blocks a few days ago for the first time in 1 1/2 yrs., without staggering and bumping into things beside me.   I am still not able to go into busy stores or large box stores because within about 10 - 15 minutes, I start to develop the vision problems, balance problems and become sick to my stomach.  I can't tell you how this has affected my life.  I have a loving supportive family and good friends, though I don't see people often.  Watching people talk, their hands move, or trying to have a conversation in a large group sets the whole thing off.  I really don't understand any of this.

I am 50 1/2.  I am going through menopause, had some problem with depression after my kids in my thirties, and agreed after thorough testing that perhaps a neuropsychiatrist was an option.  My doctor felt perhaps it is emotionally based.  I agreed because I am willing to expore every avenue.  The doctor I am seeing is wonderful.  My husband comes with me to my sessions which are too far for me to get to on my own, waits for me, consults with the neuro doc and we sit in together and talk about things.  I truly am a happy person at this time in my life.  My girls are grown and successful, my relationship is great and I am basically free of burdens.  What the heck is going on??

Is there anyone out there who has experienced such symptoms?  Right now, I need to go and get gravol, typing this letter has made me sick.  I have taken medicine for migraine but I am still seeing only spots of my screen and have pain in my temples, forehead, base of my neck and general woozy feeling.  When I am like this I would definitely not go out in public.  I would either be down on the ground after losing my balance completely or my field of vision would be moving and making me throw up. I am still suffering from loss of words, memory failure, jumbled words, and stuttering.

Help!
68 Responses
Avatar universal
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi,

I do understand how difficult it was for you.But you have been strong and your family has been very supportive.You are still lucky and blessed.

With regards to your symptoms, were your doctors able to give you a definite diagnosis ?

Were any cardiac problems ruled out?

Were your coagulation factor levels ( Prothrombin, APTT and fibrinogen ) evaluated?

Were your thyroid and parathyroid hormones assessed?

In the absence of any significant findings in the CT scan and MRI, you may be having basilar or vestibular migraines.These type of migraines may be difficult to  differentiate from a transient ischemic attack which is a cerebrovascular disorder. Basilar or vestibular migraines have been associated with vascular spasms at the base of the brain which may explain the reversible symptoms of slurring of speech, visual problems and weakness in the extremities.

Close supervision is necessary and I do understand that the attacks may be very disconcerting and almost debilitating. At this point, I can not think of any futher evaluation that may be needed.Continue with the medications,physical therapy and counselling as these are beneficial.

Also you may be open to other forms of alternative medical therapy like acupuncture and reiki (japanese hand or palm healing) which has been used by several physicians to complement medical therapy.
451975 tn?1372332199
Yes, all of those tests were done. The neurologist attending also said there was no other tests  or help he could offer me.  Why did they not suggest anti-migraine drugs to me??  I appreciate your advice and will look into the options you suggested.  Terina
Avatar universal
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
Hi,

Yes discuss the possibility of a vestibular or basilar migraine as a diagnosis in your case.This is of course given that you had a thorough assessment and other causes like a transient ischemic attack and other cerebrovascular disorders have been ruled out.

It is important to note that basilar, complex,ophthalmic or vestibular migraines are only given as a diagnosis when other conditions including blood and cardiac disorders have been ruled out.Discuss this with your physician and keep us posted regarding his/her advice.
Avatar universal
Hi,
I was searching the net to see if I could find information on my moms problem when I found this site. Some of your symptoms sound not unlike what my mom is experiencing at the moment. Since christmas my mom has been very ill. We found out that she has diverticulitis (inflamation of the colon) and was put on steroids and other medication for it. However, shortly after starting the medication she began to lose her speech and her balance was off. The doctors said it was due to the steroids and the effects would wear off as her dosage decreased. However, these symptoms ony got worse. She was taken off the steroids, admitted to hospital and had a series of tests, MRI, CT, ECO, blood tests, etc. All came back clear. Two months on and her condition is deteriorating. She can't drive because the spells where she loses her balance are so frequent - she basically loses control of her limbs and has to try hard to keep herself together in public. Her speech goes every time one of these ''spells'' occurs. It's like she's drunk and can't get the words out properly and she's slurring. We're from Ireland where neurologists are thin on the ground and seem to be making no headway in finding a cause or solution. It's affecting her mental well being, making her feel old and debilitated. She's a very youthful 54yr old lady, who up to now was always on the go, keeping busy. Now she can hardly leave the house as these moments of loss of speech and balance are so frequent, minutes apart in fact. Could it possibly be emotionally related?? My mom has had a lot of tragedy in her life and I'm her youngest child only married 6months. I wonder is she feeling a  void in her life now none of her children are at home coupled with the tragedies of the past coming back because she never had any counceling to deal with them at the time. I'm very concerned and really want to get to the bottom of this. If anyone can offer advise I'd greatly appreciated.
A worried daughter.
Avatar universal
I just went to the hospital on Easter with Stroke like symptoms and was treated as such.  I am 35 years old.  They did all the normal tests MRI, MRA, and tons of blood work.  Although the CT scan showed something that they thought may have been a mini stroke the other tests ruled it out and they diagnosed me with a silent or atypical migraine.  I had all symptoms of a stroke.  The numbness, tingling, drooping of the eyes and mouth on one side, no facial expressions and I could hardly talk.  It has been one week and my strength is still not back on my right side and and my speech is still very slurred.  It is very frustrating for me so I cant imagine what it is like for you.  
451975 tn?1372332199
As I write this neecie73, I just had to pick up my granola & fruit that leap from my hand! This is not unusual for me. The speech problems are still there, when I speak on the phone, my regular words/conv., are only okay for about 10 min. and then I start to 'lose' it. I know you are scared for your mom but please explore the possible emotional connection in all of this. Ask her doctor for a referral to a Neuropsychiatrist who specializes in all aspects of brain function. They are trained to deal with migraine, depression, epilepsy, atypical neurological symptons and do not differentiate between the illnesses at all. Their job is to unravel the 'mess' in the brain, try to help the patient understand what may be contributing to their problem and also to tell them the almost forbidden rule with doctors, and that is, 'we just don't know what is going on here'. I have found a wonderful doctor and go for therapy every month or so. I don't know if you have insurance but see if her doctor has any recommendations. In the meantime, tell you mom to hang on, I've found even 1/2 a gravol every four or five hours really helps the dizziness and balance problems and the nausea associated with it. Tell her to be brave, it will improve. Tell her to sleep, do any arts and crafts that she likes which works another part of her brain completely, and do not think she is going to be like this all the rest of her life. Depression sets in pretty quick when your world becomes so small. Good Luck and let me know how she is doing. You are a great daughter to be trying to reach out and find help or understanding of her condition for her. Sincerely, T.
451975 tn?1372332199
As I write this neecie73, I just had to pick up my granola & fruit that leap from my hand! This is not unusual for me. The speech problems are still there, when I speak on the phone, my regular words/conv., are only okay for about 10 min. and then I start to 'lose' it. I know you are scared for your mom but please explore the possible emotional connection in all of this. Ask her doctor for a referral to a Neuropsychiatrist who specializes in all aspects of brain function. They are trained to deal with migraine, depression, epilepsy, atypical neurological symptons and do not differentiate between the illnesses at all. Their job is to unravel the 'mess' in the brain, try to help the patient understand what may be contributing to their problem and also to tell them the almost forbidden rule with doctors, and that is, 'we just don't know what is going on here'. I have found a wonderful doctor and go for therapy every month or so. I don't know if you have insurance but see if her doctor has any recommendations. In the meantime, tell you mom to hang on, I've found even 1/2 a gravol every four or five hours really helps the dizziness and balance problems and the nausea associated with it. Tell her to be brave, it will improve. Tell her to sleep, do any arts and crafts that she likes which works another part of her brain completely, and do not think she is going to be like this all the rest of her life. Depression sets in pretty quick when your world becomes so small. Good Luck and let me know how she is doing. You are a great daughter to be trying to reach out and find help or understanding of her condition for her. Sincerely, T.
451975 tn?1372332199
I wanted to share this information that was sent to me by a doctor on this site. I know everyone is different but this advice might be of help to your mom. Sincerely, T.

Hi,

I do understand how difficult it was for you.But you have been strong and your family has been very supportive.You are still lucky and blessed.

With regards to your symptoms, were your doctors able to give you a definite diagnosis ?

Were any cardiac problems ruled out?

Were your coagulation factor levels ( Prothrombin, APTT and fibrinogen ) evaluated?

Were your thyroid and parathyroid hormones assessed?

In the absence of any significant findings in the CT scan and MRI, you may be having basilar or vestibular migraines.These type of migraines may be difficult to  differentiate from a transient ischemic attack which is a cerebrovascular disorder. Basilar or vestibular migraines have been associated with vascular spasms at the base of the brain which may explain the reversible symptoms of slurring of speech, visual problems and weakness in the extremities.

Close supervision is necessary and I do understand that the attacks may be very disconcerting and almost debilitating. At this point, I can not think of any futher evaluation that may be needed.Continue with the medications,physical therapy and counselling as these are beneficial.

Also you may be open to other forms of alternative medical therapy like acupuncture and reiki (japanese hand or palm healing) which has been used by several physicians to complement medical therapy.
R
451975 tn?1372332199
Neecie73,

Sorry, I sent you a reply that was meant for someone else!!!  I will forward to you, though, some advice that was given to me by a physician on this site.  It may offer you some information that you could take to your doctor and discuss.  Everyone is different and I am certainly not diagnosing here, but, maybe there is something in her advice that may pertain to you.
As far as coping...hang on, realize that depression and frustration become your foes when you are trying to deal with something that disables you and causes such fright about your future. Let me know how you do, I really would like to be of support. It is now two years, my doctor just put me on something called, 'Lyrica', as a mood stabilizer and to deal with chronic pain from an old injury. I am really so much better but the speech is still a big problem, the whirlies & loss of balance, clumsiness still haunt me. I am an elegant, young looking 50 year old and people take a second glance when I am out and dressed nicely. Then, bang, I walk into a display, knock it down, walk into people as they are walking toward me because my perception is all off and man, do I feel like an idiot. Just imagine, I go into a nice restaurant, speech was okay before I left, but after the car ride I can feel my head becoming all jumble, but still manage to get in the door, wobbling just a bit, but you know they may think I've just been drinking, then they greet me with a big hello, I open my mouth to say hello back and guess what, 'fark' or 'lahow' comes out!!!!!!!! Holy cow...they just look at me like, 'what planet did this lady come from' and then on we go to a very difficult time trying to order dinner and not be so humiliated that I want to slink out the back door.  Be brave, don't give in to the fear, and get some councelling with a Neuropsychiatrist if this goes on for a long time. You will need help in dealing with the day to day problems you will encounter. Keep in touch, I look forward to hearing of your progress! Sincerely, T.
451975 tn?1372332199
Hi, just wanted to check in with you. At my appt. on Thursday of last week, my Neuropsychiatrist has put me on a drug called, 'Lyrica'. I/my husband notices within a few days that I was up and about, more productive and much less burdened than I had been in a long time. It's amazing to me because I have tried so many antidepressants and none seemed to work alone, I always needed a cocktail to maintain an even mood. I feel 20, energy wise. He tells me that all of the doctors I've seen are basically casting a wide net over me and have no one particular diagnosis.

I still become off balance when in a car, watch anything passing in front of my eyes quickly or moving objects on the tv. When that starts, my speech starts to slur and garble as well. I get nauseous when I go to large box stores, i.e. Home Depot, Costco, and just try to keep my eyes trained to the cart or floor in front of me. If I don't, I start walking into displays or people, knocking things down, and staggering. Not a pretty sight for a pretty lady, trust me.

I try to encourage others who contact me because this is now 2 years on and I am just beginning to be able to leave the house and walk a few blocks. I finally was able to get on the treadmill and I can read more. With the lyrica helping with chronic pain from previous injuries, (2000, I broke my hip, left leg multiple fractures, ankle, left rotator cuff torn during training for a marathon) and allowing me to feel unburdened as I have felt for years now, I feel hope and encouragement.

I thank you for keeping in touch and will let you know my progress. T.
Avatar universal
Hello.  I just wanted to say to all of you that reading your experiences just in the last five minutes has helped me so much.  I am  22 years old and just got back from studying abroad in London.  I am totally blind and up until this year I was living a fairly independent life, travelling and studying multiple languages.  Then suddenly I began to have periods where I couldn't move my hands and feet and began to lose speech.  I also suffered terrible migraines, ten times worse than the ones I've had for 10 years.  Since all this started I have had seizure like episodes where I wshake uncontrollably and almost swallow my tongue, I have had temporary weakness to the point of paralysis on my left side, and have experienced frequent visual and auditory hallucinations.  I think this is the scariest part of my experiences, since I have only ever been able to see light.  Suddenly the room actually looks different, I see streaks and spots, and my entire surroundings change so much that it is difficult for me to walk.  I have only recently been referred to a more specialized neurologist, an in the meantime I am on Neurontin, soething the doctors tell me is usually used for chronic pain.  This has helped a lot with most of my symptoms but this week I haven't been able to talk properly for almost 4 days and continue to experience weakness and clumsiness.  I also experience memory loss and problems with vocabulary, and knowing someone else is also experiencing these things has made me feel less alone.  I'm not used to be confined to my house and having people treat me with even more pity because now I seem to be a truly mentally challenged blind person.  So I just wanted to say thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and suggesting alternative care.
451975 tn?1372332199
Boy, have you got a huge load to carry! I can only tell you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully the doctors will be able to find some relief for you.

I know that a huge percentage of dealing with these problems and moving forward is having the support and understanding of those around us. I am sure that you feel that others are treating you with kid gloves, and that the hovering and fussing has increased to an almost untolerable level, but remember, they love you, are very worried that this may be something serious that will progress to something terminal. They are scared to death of what they, 'don't know', about your condition and perhaps are frustrated that doctors can't yet tell them/you anything more specific. Have patience with them, I know how hard it is.

This forum has also given me a sense of support and encouragement. My symptoms are slowly improving but it is still such a challenge everyday. When I do go out I must be very vigilant about changes beginning in my head, speech, walking clumsiness and know when it is time to go home. If I push myself, I end up in a dark room, in bed, zonked out on gravol and up until Lyrica, too many painkillers. Any light in the room blinds me with pain and I am dizzy and off balance for another stretch of time. One thing I am learning, being an overachiever in the past, is to know the signals and do what is necessary to avoid things that will leave me out of control. Yes, I walk into people, knock displays down, try and pick things up and knock more down...the list is endless. All I can do is say, 'sorry, I am a little unsteady', smile and, get the heck out of there!

Have courage, take the help when you need it and don't confuse concern and fear with overprotection. You are still the same person you were before, dynamic, I think, and for the time being, just have yet one more hurdle to beat. Stay in touch, I'd love to hear of your progress. I know you are going to do great!  Sincerely, T
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