Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Just got back from St Petersburg, Russia..

...and all I got was this lousy Transient Ischemic Attack

My mother and her friend Peggy arrived from the US in Moscow on September 28th and we spent 5 days touring Moscow before heading on the overnight train to St Petes along with my wife and mother-in-law. While there we went to the Hermitage, Peterhof, and visited many churches and famous landmarks. On our last day there our tourguide took us out to Pushkin's Palace. On the way out I started to feel nautious with a bad headache. I walked up to the the entrance but decided to head back to the minibus we had rented to lie down. When I did that I started to feel numbness on the right side of my body including my tongue. I looked in a mirror and noticed the right side of my face drooped slightly. My father had a stroke when he was 59 and I knew the symptoms. I decided right then that I needed to get the nearest hospital and we headed to one of the grey porcelain horror houses that pass for a hospital under the loving care of Russian healthcare. They had me lie down and took my blood pressure.

At this point I lost track of time. I do remember the ambulance from the International Clinic taking me out of there. (Our tourguides excellent suggestion.) I was taking for a brainscan at a Russian military hospital and they determined I wasn't hemorraging so I went to the International hospital for drugs to thin my blood. I was in and out of consciousness during the ambulance ride. I was in this hospital from Thursday, October 6th, to Monday, October 10th, and the care was excellent. Most of the doctors and nurses spoke English to some degree and there is an American, Frank Reister, on staff who checked in on me. It was very reassuring to say the least.

By Friday morning I was feeling much better and most of the numbness on my right side had subsided. This is a big wake up call for me. I had increased my exercise level recently and improved my diet as well as quit drinking alcohol. (Although I had been drinking white wine during dinner in St Pete.) Here is some information about Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) from webmd.com:

Treatment Overview
Small stroke may mean a bigger one is close behind
Ministroke, not a small matter
What increases your risk

The overview I received from the hospital mentions a retrocerebral cyst and that one of my arteries spasmed. I really do not understand this, the doctors explained that this was a problem I would have to have looked at in the near future but that it wasn't an immediate concern. Since we plan to move to Chicago within the next two months I will schedule a doctors appointment for that time. Of course, I will be watching my diet, getting moderate levels of exercise, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol. I am just grateful this wasn't worse. I have too much I am looking forward to doing in the near future. John, tasting the Mead will have to wait until this summer. I have a lot of weight to lose.


I was reading the overview that the hospital wrote up for me, I have no idea what half of this stuff means, but it looks extremely thorough. It mentions something called a retrocerebral cyst. A doctor did an ultrasound of the arteries around my head and I remember she pointed this out to me. The head neurosurgeon said that my carotid artery spasmed. I am guessing the cyst might have contributed to that. Anyway, the order of the day is, as mentioned above, clean living. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.


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