Monday, May 27, 2013

A trip to the emergency room and a PSA

Saturday started out like any other day. We were planning to take our out-of-town friend Marissa to lunch and go sightseeing in Austin. To give some context to this story, the Thursday prior I started taking a new blood pressure medication as well as the Rx folic acid/B vitamins prescribed. As Marissa and Kevin were getting ready to go out, I started tidying the living room. But out of nowhere I noticed something was wrong with my left hand. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, but everything in my left hand felt weak and numb like a limp noodle. I immediately thought of the new medications and sat down at the computer to type "weakness in hand labetalol" when I realized I couldn't type at all with my hand. My hand wasn't working or doing what I was asking it to do. It was just dragging on the keyboard lifelessly. I was terrified.

My immediate thought was stroke.

I ran to Kevin who was already in the shower and in a panic-striken state alerted him that something was very wrong with my hand. He hopped out of the shower quickly and did basic vitals on me (he's a firefighter/EMT) and decided we'd head to the emergency room right away. He was worried about a stroke or blood clot - two things you don't mess around with.

I was rushed into an exam room and the ER doctor did basic stroke tests on me. Kevin and I really thought it was probably a side effect to the Labetalol or folic acid since these were new pills I had just started, but the ER doctor didn't think a systemic drug could cause such an isolated symptom. He finally determined I was not having a stroke and I didn't have a blood clot (what a relief) and told me to follow up with my doctor during normal hours later this week.

But for the rest of the day it baffled and upset me as to why this had come on so sudden. And I still didn't have use of my hand despite being discharged from the ER.

Then at bedtime it hit me. I had taken my blood pressure just minutes before I lost the feeling in my hand. I have been keeping an eye on my BP to make sure it didn't drop too low with the new medication. Upon realizing this, I googled "blood pressure cuff injury" and sure enough there were countless stories of how a blood pressure cuff can compress a main nerve that runs through your arm causing loss of feeling/function in your fingers/hand described exactly as my symptoms had had presented. It happens when you put it too low on your upper arm, which I notoriously do. I didn't think it was dangerous. Now I know better!

The good news is, the following morning the feeling returned to normal! I'm a little embarrassed about the whole event, but I would never advise anyone to ignore any signs that might present as a stroke.

And funny enough, the only other time I've ever been to the ER was in 2008 when I was cutting an avocado and accidentally put a knife through my left hand and out the other side! OUCH. I severed a digital nerve and it had to be repaired surgically. It seems like left hand nerve issues should earn me a punch card to the ER.

I had to share the adventure with you all and give a public service announcement to make sure you use your at-home blood pressure machines safely. If you put the cuff too low on the arm, this can happen. Lesson learned - I'll always make sure the cuff is much higher on my arm.

And the good news is that on our way home from the ER, we got the embryo agreement contract signed and notarized! We are shipping it to Libby early this week. I'm so excited that we are on the home stretch!


  1. I take labatelol as well. Funny story when I first started it as well. My OBGYN switch me to it since we were trying to get pregnant and the stuff I was taking was a grade D for pregnancy. The doctor told me to take my first blood pressure medication in the morning and the new one in the evening to adjust my body. I remember it was the day before thanksgiving because I was making a cake. I ended up passing out in the kitchen and when my husband got me up I took my blood pressure. It was 67/40! I was soooo scared. We rushed to the urgent care but they had closed early for the holiday. I ended up doing push ups trying to get my heart rate back up. It was so scarey! I def know the feeling I do not mess with my blood pressure.

  2. How scary!! I'm so glad it wasn't anything major! And a big YAY for getting the contract signed and notarized. FX everything else is smooth sailing and you are able to cycle soon. :) -DP

  3. Wow, you learn something new every day! That had to have been scary and I am glad that all is well and you are fine. And super excited to hear the contract is signed and notarized. :)

  4. That is scary. Glad it turned out to be ok.

  5. Good grief! I'm relieved it was something so simple and you're feeling better, but how scary!

  6. Scary but you did the right thing and I am so happy to hear that you are okay!

  7. Good grief that sounds so scary! I am so glad you are ok!

    Woohoo for the home stretch!!

  8. Yikes, that would have been scary! You are right, you should never avoid stroke symptoms, even if it turns out to not be the case. Better safe than sorry. And yay! For the contract getting finalized. Boo! For the visual of putting a knife through your hand!