From the NHS website, a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain.
The disruption in blood supply results in a lack of oxygen to the brain.
This can cause sudden symptoms similar to a stroke, such as speech and visual disturbance, and numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs.
But a TIA does not last as long as a stroke. The effects last a few minutes to a few hours and fully resolve within 24 hours.
It's also what my grandad had on Sunday night.
We have a bit of a weird set up in my family. We all live within an easy 15 minutes driving distance from each other, and yet rarely see each other.
My aunt and her kids moved from being round the corner to being the other side of town, and fell out of contact with our side. My mum and my nan (her mum - I have no paternal grandparents) have history and haven't spoken for half of my life, and by extension, neither have I until I moved down the road from her. Then there's my grandad, who occasionally and sporadically popped round when he remembered it was mum's birthday two weeks ago or something.
It's one of those things perenially on my radar as something I'd maybe like to change but also unsure why outside of the feeling of 'Normal Families are Normal to each other'. On the one hand, it kind of works for me, and on the other, it makes me feel an outsider. Hard to reconcile one with the other.
So when mum called me to tell me grandad had a mini-stroke, I wasn't quite expecting the emotional response. No tears or panic as such, just a deep, draining anxiety. I couldn't concentrate on work; I call my manager and she immediately said 'get off work, let me know when you're back'. I knew I couldn't do anything, but I also was in waiting for another phone call. Any phone call.
(I guess the job has some perks outside of discounts)
I did what I normally do when I feel like this: I try to diagnose the issue. Dig down past the surface thoughts and find the complexity that's triggering off these emotions, find something I could work on. And there was stuff, sure, and some of it triggered some flashbacks, which weren't super helpful, but as with most cases I think Occam's Razor wins out.
I was feeling like this because a family member had a brush with death, and that was scary.
The Inquisitor in me almost dismissed that out of hand. I barely know the guy, haven't seen him in years, to the point where the only time my wife ever met him was by complete accident when she was visiting mum and he showed up. I have no connection with him on any level other than a family tree.
And yet, he's my grandad. He's mum's dad, and he was in the hospital following a mini-stroke.
The other, deeper reasons were valid. They're there, but they're always there, waiting for the trigger. Especially the flashbacks.
A family member having a mini-stroke though, that's new.
He's been released this afternoon, after scans, tests, and physical therapist sign off. As with most mini-strokes, it looks like his symptoms have fully resolved.
My feelings haven't yet though. Not just around the event itself (symptoms resolve but the risk for future recurrences or a full blown stroke are now higher), but around this fake distance between me and the others.
Maybe it's time for a change.
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