"Mrs. Jones(my 80 year old neighbor), did you notice any difference in the way you felt this time versus the last time you lost consciousness?" the doctor asked the morning after she was admitted to the hospital.
"No, I don't think so. I was just sitting in Sunday school listening to the teacher and the next thing I knew people were around me and telling me I had gotten white and passed out. Not much was different after that," she said.
"May I interject," I asked. "Suzie, your sitter, said you told her you felt very strange all morning after you passed out. I was in the emergency room with you the last time you passed out and you were alert, bright-eyed, and chatty. You were very different this time. When you called me to take your blood pressure, you were having difficulty thinking and were unable to answer some of my questions. You seemed distant, had a headache, and were sensitive to light. It was almost twelve hours from the time you passed out until you seemed your usual self and started chatting with me as you usually do."
After a medical incident, you may lack awareness of changes in your ability to think, function, and / or your behavior. My neighbor was in a mild daze and her memory was impaired, but she was able to talk coherently. To a person who didn't know her, she seemed okay, but I knew something was wrong. She was not herself.
When you are ill you may not remember all that transpired in the hours just before or after the onset of an incident. In the story above, my friend did not remember a cardiologist had come to see her, among other things that had transpired in the ER the day before.
It is important to have someone with you who is familiar with the way you normally function so they can share observations and provide additional / accurate information.
It is important that the person who knows what is normal for you be assertive and share what they know and have observed. Such information gives the provider a more accurate story, and increases the chances he will order the correct tests, make a timely and accurate diagnosis, and / or give the proper emergency medication.
Do not down play your symptoms. Tell it like it is.
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