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My Stroke Story

17 Dec

So here goes, my stroke story and all the questions answered about what happened that day and the days that followed. The only time I’ve had to talk about it was with medical students, doctors, therapists and patients in rehab and then of course with my friends. The dates I didn’t know until my family had told me…

Late on July 31st 2017 I had a migraine and I decided to sleep it off with a nap. My then, 15 month old daughter should have been asleep by then, and I guess, I’m incredibly grateful she was still awake. Apparently my head was hurting so bad  I asked my eldest sister to deal with her (I was thankfully at  my parents’ home) because I didn’t have it in me. After waking up from my nap, I chilled and watched the food network ( I don’t remember this) and then took my daughter up to bed. Tucked her in and got myself ready for bed (at this point it was gone midnight and we were now on August 1st). I suddenly felt my migraine come back with a vengeance, it was showing no mercy and I just couldn’t cope. Something was wrong, I knew it. No migraine cool strip, painkiller or cup of tea was going to touch this pain. I knew I needed help. I went straight down to my parents’ bedroom and started banging on the door “Help me, help me!” I pleaded. They opened the door, I told them I had a really bad migraine and they had to call an ambulance immediately. They were both abruptly awoken from sleep and naturally moving slowly (it feels a lot slower when you feel like you’re dying of pain!) They lay me down on their bed (good move), the lights went on and I yelled something along the lines of “Why would you do that??!” I was clearly photosensitive by now. As I lay on the bed I kept telling my parents to call an ambulance and I was getting frustrated that it felt like things were going so slowly and my pain and symptoms were progressing too fast. My neck was stiff and my shoulders hurt, I felt like I was going to throw up, I lost patience with the pain and waiting for someone to call the ambulance. I grabbed the bedside phone and diallled 999 myself. “Ambulance!” I demanded and then gave my name and address (I think) I then handed the phone back to my Dad because I couldn’t speak anymore. Without much notice, out the vomit came, some in the bin and loads all over the bed and floor. I apologised for making a mess and felt a warm trickle of blood on the surface of my brain. I knew it was blood but nothing else clicked. and that was my last memory. My parents and family have filled me in on the unclear bits. Apparently I was muttering a prayer which my Mum could just about make out. It was the du’aa for forgiveness and one which all Muslims should recite every morning and evening. I also apparently asked my parents for forgiveness and then I passed out. My Dad had to follow the emergency service’s instructions to give me CPR (Go Dad! Super proud of you!!) I was only taking one breath for every six I should have been taking.  I can only think I must have thought I was dying but all I remember thinking was my baby girl is upstairs and someone should go to her (I was expecting her to come out the bedroom and follow me as she normally would if I left her) I also remember putting her into my bed in case she woke during the night and needed me. I figured if I was ill it would be made easier for me. My next memory was being asked by two physiotherapists to sit on the edge of the bed.

Now, I wasn’t alarmed waking up in hospital because I could hear things throughout and I was having some very bizarre dreams. By the time I reached this point I had three brain surgeries (including open brain surgery or a craniotomy). The  first procedure was on August 1st, a drain was inserted into my head to drain the blood from the cerebrofluid. Around this point I was put into a medically induced coma, intubated and all the rest of it. I was also unable to breathe independantly  due to a partially collapsed lung. I needed to be aspirated due to swallowing/choking on some vomit and it entering my lungs. I was in a coma for approximately 4/5 days and on life support before being slowly weaned off 100% oxygen. On August 8th, an embolisation was done but it failed (the weirdest thing about this was I knew because I heard the doctors say this and I relayed the message to my family (who were already informed by this point but couldn’t understand how I knew. I do remember writing “they screwed up” and that a doctor told me??) this procedure actually made me bleed more Finally, on August 9th I had the craniotomy just behind my left ear. The scar is huge but thankfully hidden by my hair! I didn’t know I had a stroke until my physiotherapist on the neurophysio ward told me. This was probably around August 20th – 25th I’m guessing. He didn’t sugar coat it either but then again I assume he thought I knew already. He just told me that the part of the brain where my stroke happened was responsible for movement and balance. Yes you science nerds have guessed it. It was on my cerebellum. I didn’t freak out hearing this because what I felt on my brain before passing out now made sense. My parents were naturally trying to protect me so down played it when I asked them. I say asked but I was actually writing everything at this point because I had a tracheostomy and thus had a tube coming out of my neck and I was hooked up to some oxygen this was finally removed on September 6th which was the day I could talk and eat again (I also had an ENT doctor or two examine me via my nose and neck using a fibre optic camera to try and figure out why I hadn’t been able to make any sounds since I was on ITU. My speech and language therapist discovered this and I eventually discoverd – by hearing the first ENT Dr who examined me, ask for a second opinion from the registrar because he thought my left vocal cords were paralysed – and they were. It turns out it was possible for me to speak because my right vocal cords were compensating. They told me about the AVM (arterivenous malformation) and how it was basically a tangle of veins and arteries on the surface of my brain which ruptured. I then asked for one of my sisters to come and explain it all to me. In fact, almost 5 months on and I’m still asking my family about what happened in the time that I was unconscious. It turns out AVMs are congential (you’re born with this rare condition) and it’s not hereditary (I asked how I can be sure my daughter doesn’t have it and if I could and should have her screened). For now, madam is doing just fine, thank God and I may give screening a thought when she’s older. My AVM was the primary issue which led to a secondary subarachnoid hemorrhage (the actual stroke). My sister also told me they found two other bleeds on my brain which didn’t surprise me and now I can talk I can explain why – I felt them a few days prior to the main event.

I should also admit that when I was finally with it, I thought a year and a half had gone by and genuinely thought I was 30 years old. I only figured out the date and year by reading the date on the cannulas put into my forearm.  After I was decanulated (trachy tube out and able to speak, breathe and eat on my own and also catheter and nasogastric tube out the next day), I was shafted to my local hospital for a week where I waited to go to a specialised rehabilitation unit. I was in rehab for 3 months from September 13 to December 11th. I was finally able to walk unaided on Friday 20th October and my wheelchair was officially taken away! Although I practised walking with a frame and walking stick in PT sessions, I skipped these two stages in reality, I also impressed my physio by stretching my quadricepts whilst standing, apparently it was like a rehab patient first for him. If you haven’t noticed, I’m approaching my 2 month walkiversary (it’s a thing since 2 seconds ago).

My remaining stroke symptoms:
-Left 4th nerve palsy/ diplopia – temporarily corrected using prisms on my glasses – likely i’ll need surgery soon
-Cognitive fatigue (I didn’t know it was a thing until my rehab physio told me after
I turned up to my session tired immediately after a psychotherapist session which consisted of loads of mental tests)
-I’ve started to lose bits of my short term memory over the last 3 weeks
-I’ve got chunks of my memory missing in the couple of weeeks leading up to the stroke
-Numbness all on my right side with pins and needles and tingling
-Loss of sensastion and temperatures on my whole right side
-numb tongue (was 100% but slowly getting better currently last 1/4 numbness left
-Loss of some motor ability in my left arm/hand
-I walk funny
-Sometimes my left leg joins in and does silly things
-Peripheral nerve pain since the end of August (right side)
-A tracheostomy site which is overgranulated and not healing as fast as it should
-Some loss of hearing in right ear

My hand is starting to hurt and I’m getting tired so I’m gonna leave it here for now. Thanks for reading and well done for surviving that long. The stroke is mostly why I’m aiming to be the paleo woman I was a few years ago. Being in a bed and immobile for most of the time, combined with foods can make a person… out of shape and I need the strength, energy and fitness to be able to look after my baby girl, bake and maybe go back to teaching. I can’t remember if I stated it on my previous blogs but I’m a cake baker and decorator, I launched my own home business back in October 2011 – before I went paleo. Here’s a cake I made for my therapists, doctors and nurses at my rehab unit 2  weeks before I was discharged:

rehab cake collage

In case you hadn’t guessed the name of my  business is Crumblicious Delights. I specialise in wedding cakes so I gave the cake a wedding theme and included my date of admission to discharge in rehab on the bottom tier in Roman numerals and the name of the unit on the top tier RNRU (Regional Neurological Rehabilitation Unit). I know I’m paleo and bake unpaleo things but they’re not usually for me and remember I started baking before I went paleo. I have just set up an instagram account specifically for this blog, litera;ly just now @paleostrokesurvivor and Twitter is back up @GFSalafi

All praise is due to God I’m not paralysed at all and I’m alive! God is good! ❤

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Raw Fudge Treat

9 Mar

I cannot take credit for this recipe at all. In fact, I was just inspired by the raw fudge purchased from Planet Organic. Figured I’d make that extremely clear before they sue me or something
Now the picture on their website just shows a chocolate slab and the ingredients list a mix of nuts, seeds and fruit. Anyway, I didn’t read the description before I bought it, just saw it was suitable for my dietary needs and thought of it as a good, yet incredibly expensive treat. £4.49 for a 70g piece of ‘fudge’??!

Anyway! I tasted some the day it arrived and it was my first encounter with raw cacao. Tasted brilliant. The next day, it was finished.

So I wanted more fudge and thought it’s too soon to do another order now, too expensive and I’d have to wait a few days for it to arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a patient person maashaaAllaah but if I need food now, I need it now. I’ve only been this way since changing my diet to clean stuff so it’s all good alhamdulillaah, at least it’s not bread I crave!

So, the reason why you’re all here, le recipe! It’s quick, easy and oh so yummy. Absolutely high in calories due to all the good fats so if you calorie count please click the little cross on the top of your browser now .

This recipe made a 7″ round slab which was about 1cm thick, just to you have a rough idea or how much it yields and for once I’m gonna attempt to measure what I added.

Ingredients:
For the base –
Handful of Brazil nuts
2-3 Dates (I didn’t add these as I only have ajwah dates at the moment)
2 Dried Figs
Small handful of Sunflower seeds
Small handful of Raisins
3 dried Apricots
Sprinkle ofSesame seeds
Sprinkle of Desicated Coconut (I added this instead of dates)
I guess you could even add pine nuts or pumpkin seeds. Whatever you have laying around really!

For the ‘fudge’ –
Approx 1/2 cup of Coconut oil
Approx 1/3 cup of Raw cacao powder NOT cocoa powder, I’ll blog about cacao Vs cocoa
2-3 tablespoons of Honey (I used Sidr Honey, it was all I had)

Method:
I used a small kenwood food processor so the amount of my ingredients was based on this.
Blitz all the base ingredients together until roughly – finely chopped but not mushy. Taste it to make sure you like it. Tip it into the tin and pat down with a spatula or off-set palette knife. I used my hands at first but it was too sticky so was getting stuck to my hands instead.

Add fudge ingredients to food processor and blitz until nice and smooth, remember to taste it. If it’s too bitter add more honey, just a bit or if you want it more chocolately add more cacao. It looks very wet but don’t worry, all the initial ingredients are solid at room temp so it will set again once you pop it in the fridge. Pour fudge onto base, spread out and leave to chill out in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes I think. I wasn’t timing, I just went to check once I was bored and it happened to be set.

Remove from tin and apply generously to face. WOAH! When I say apply to face I mean your mouth, this isn’t a face mask peeps. Store it in the fridge and make sure you eat lunch/dinner before going back for more cos you will quite easily polish it off. Seriously.

And now some pictures for you to drool over in the meantime…

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Base squished into place

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Blizted fudge mixture

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Fudge mixtured plonked onto base

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Fudge mixture smoothed out – looks plain and boring…

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… That’s more like it! Bit of decor

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Chilled and out the fridge, removed from tin but still on tin base

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Side view of fudge on tin base

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If someone gives you baklawa, feed it to your gluten munching family and keep the tray for times like this

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Cut into generous portions hehe

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Take a piece and hope noone notices… let’s all focus on the crack on the tray instead and solve that mystery instead of the “who took the fudge?” thing

You’re hungry now aren’t you? Go make some fudge!

Berry Almond Scones

4 Mar

Q: What’s the fastest cake?

A: Scone

That’s actually kinda true if you think about how long it took me to make these. I had a few spare minutes before work and BAM! Scones! The image on the website, healthhomehappy.com looks nothing like my scones so I’m wondering if it is the real picture or not. Either way, I’m attaching my own. The method says to shape it into a triangle but I’m happy with randomly blobbed scones/poorly formed circles. It makes no difference to the taste. By the way, I also added a pinch of baking powder. I don’t know why, something inside me made me do it and it just seemed appropriate. Maybe that’s why mine don’t look like the picture? I halved my recipe and it made three mahoosive scones. In hindsight I would make them half the size. I had them warm and they were ‘meh’. Tried them again after work and I seemed to like them more.

Ingredients:
2.5 cups of almond flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons honey or other natural sweetener or 4 dates, pureed
1/3 cup melted butter or ghee
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries

Method:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking sheet with butter or coconut oil.
In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until combined. Add melted butter, and honey.
Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Fold in berries.
Drop ¼ cup of dough onto the baking sheet, shape into triangle shapes.
Bake 15 minutes.

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3 blueberry scones, piping hot

Coconutty Choc Chip Cookies

2 Mar

As promised (a very long time ago) here is the recipe I used to make some chocolate chip cookies. It’s not my recipe but it is pretty cool and from fastpaleo.com. When you make them they’re quite soft but don’t be fooled, they do go harder once cooled. I stupidly thought they needed a little longer in the oven so mine had a lovely tan… some were a little over tanned… oops… ANYWAY!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil/butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut cream
  • 12 squares quality dark chocolate

Don’t ask me how much 12 squares of choc is, to any woman I reckon it could even be the equivalent of 12 bars!! I just chopped up some choc and added what I thought looked appropriate
Method:

Chuck it all into a bowl and mix. I never follow instructions properly and everything turns out alright so unless the method matters, this is what I do.
When it’s all mixed, pat it out into round discs and place on a coconut oil greased baking tray. Pop it in the oven on gas mark 4 for 10 minutes.
Edit: The second time I made these I didn’t have enough chocolate so I added a tiny bit of cocoa powder. Came out well! Oh and my cookie dough is speckled looking because I add vanilla bean powder instead of extract

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Cookie dough

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Cookie dough hand moulded into cookies and placed on a tray

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Baked cookies!

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Cooled (and eaten) cookies. Totally worth the lack of stress and ease