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Continued from last week…

When I arrived at the hospital I was immediately interviewed by an admitting nurse about my symptoms. In addition to the numbness and tingling in my arm, I was showing signs of weakness in my right arm and leg. These symptoms concerned the nurse so she called a doctor to examine me. He quickly notified the stroke team then they cleared a room for me. Here is when the craziness started!

Suddenly there were 14 people in my room asking me questions. They began poking and touching me to identify what I could feel. They asked about my family history and pressed me about previous medical conditions. I answered, “I have none!” They asked, “If you had to live with your current symptoms, how would this impact your life?” Surprised by this question, I noticed my head start to swirl. I wasn’t sure what to say.

The medical team informed me they believed I was having a minor stroke. The big question was whether to give me a “clot-busting” drug. At this point they told me 6% of people who take this drug end up with catastrophic bleeding on the brain, 30% of people experience relief from their symptoms, and the remainder experience nothing. Because it took me so long after my initial symptoms to get to the ER, I had 30 minutes left in order to decide what to do before the window closes to take the medicine. No pressure!

There was no time for an MRI to confirm or rule out a stroke. This information would have been helpful to make a decision about the medication. I noticed my anxiety levels increase. My breathing grew shallow and knots rolled and formed in my stomach. I called Chris and explained the decision. Before we could discuss anything, the doctors asked me to call him back so they could talk to me. They recommended against the medicine because my symptoms were minor. Weighed against the risks of taking the drug, they felt I should not take it. I was relieved to hear their recommendation! Their thoughts lined up with my thoughts.

I was still very overwhelmed. My head was spinning with all the information, the risks and the unknown. They decided to take me for an MRI to look at my head and neck. While I don’t consider myself claustrophobic, I do have a fear of heights. Both fears come from the same region in the brain’s emotional control center. I wondered how I would last packed into the loud and narrow machine.

This was the first MRI in my life. Once they wedged my head into the headrest and moved me into the tube, I started to panic. I closed my eyes and focused on taking deep breaths. Quieting is what the brain needs when we experience intense fears so I noticed how my body felt as I calmed down. Paying attention to our body helps to activate the “Captain” in the brain that can override the fear center responsible for phobias. I began to share with Immanuel that I was afraid and I did not like feeling smashed into this tube. I asked for His peace.

As the words floated out of my mind I noticed an overwhelming sense of peace wash over me. My heart rate slowed down. My breathing steadied and I felt calm. Despite 45 minutes of jackhammer sounds echoing all around me I felt so relaxed I almost fell asleep! This Immanuel peace was exactly what I needed to quiet after the chaos.

When I returned from the MRI, Chris was waiting in my room. Everything moved slowly and calmly from there. The staff admitted me for the night and continued to run tests. Eventually we received the MRI results which showed no signs of a stroke. By the next morning my symptoms were completely resolved. The stroke team returned to my hospital room and shared their conclusions: “Well, we have no idea what happened to you!” They went on to say they ruled out a long list of concerns and by all appearances, I was the picture of good health.

I still do not know what caused the strange symptoms, but I am relieved to feel normal again. I am grateful for the prayers of many friends and family members while I was in the hospital. I feel thankful for Jesus’ profound peace in the midst of the chaos and the unknown. I am glad to have practiced the quieting skills as well as the interactions with Jesus that calmed my big emotions. Practicing these skills in the calm times made them available in the stressful, scary times.

It is much harder to learn to quiet or interact with Jesus for the first time in the midst of high stress and anxiety. I encourage you to start practicing these skills now when things are calm so they are available to you when you most need them. Take a look at the 19 skills here or read more about the skills in my husband’s new book, Transforming Fellowship here or on Kindle here.

Posted in Discipleship

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  1. Carol

    You are so right Jen ! My experience in the MRI machine was the same using the skills is definitely what gets you through the whole thing. It still bothered my head as far as the noise but I could remain peaceful as long as I focused on the Lord. Glad you’re doing better.

  2. Lisa Plummer

    I had a similar experience. My father died of a stroke, so when I was having symptoms on one side of my body and extreme vertigo, I laid down on the front lawn and asked my teen, calmly, to call an ambulance. She was very scared, but I kept telling her I would be ok and just needed help.
    When the team arrived and put me on the stretcher, the movement alone made my physically sick. They tried to rule out a stroke in the ambulance, not sure how right now, this was 2 years ago? At any rate, I was taken to the E.R., then admitted overnight, also needing an MRI. It turns out that I was diagnosed in the E.R. with a ‘complicated migraine.” I didn’t even have a headache! They told me to expect it, it would be arriving the next day. And arrive, it did. Very weird. I am also totally healthy and knew my lifestyle and habits were different from my father’s . I didn’t think it could possibly be a stroke, but it sure felt like something very similar! I, too, felt incredible peace in the MRI machine, although the hammering noises were swirling all around me. I, too, prayed and asked for peace, and felt totally cocooned by His love and Presence! The neurologist who saw me gave me wonderful advice, “Take Riboflavin and butterburr.” These are two natural remedies for migraines. I have not had another one since, thank You, Father! I do know that was a terribly painful season of my life and I was carrying heavy burdens. What would we do without the Lord? I trust that you, too, are going to be completely healthy and will continue to abide under the Shadow of the Almighty!

  3. Marsha

    Thank you so much. I remember that day. Chris was scheduled to do a webinar and we heard the news that you were in the hospital. I remember praying for healing. What a great testimony. I have had anxiety issues about MRIs and didn’t do as well as you. Your message is such a great encouragement, to all of us. Thank You, Lord that Jenn came out fine. Blessings Marsha

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