Am I having a stroke, or conversion reaction?

By Sally Collins
For Bangari Medical Content

About a week ago I lost my ability to speak.  I struggled to get words out and it was all garbled.  I went through Saturday and Sunday this way, and then Monday my daughter called 911 and got the EMTshere to check me.  I was pretty worked up when the EMTs arrived, and my tongue was pushed out, drool was falling down my chin, and my arms were clutched at my chest and my hands were curved inward and trembling.The EMTs checked my vitals and they were normal, and checked my neuro status and that was okay.  They assured me that my symptoms were not caused by a stroke.  They said they could take me to the hospital, but they probably wouldn’t do anything but run tests, and it’s probably a conversion reactionto stress.I admitted that I have had conversion reactions before.  One was when the written word looked like German. I couldn’t read it.  I was in the choir at church, and when at practice, it was so stressful learning new songs that I couldn’t read them.  I was lost.  This went on at every practice until I dropped out.

By Wednesday I was even worse.  I saw my doctor and she did a neuro check, and asked me to move my tongue in different directions.  When she asked me to poke my tongue into my cheek on both sides, I couldn’t do it.  Thus, she thought I might be having a stroke.  She said it was possible that something else was going, but first and foremost we had to be sure that I wasn’t having a stroke.

My doctor contacted the admitting doctor and asked that I be a direct admit from the ER.  While in the ER the lab techs drew blood and those tests were all normal.  I also went for a CT scan of the brain and it was normal.  I was to have an MRI the next day, but couldn’t because the machine was broken down.  The evening of the second day in the hospital, the neurologist came in and informed me that I didn’t have a stroke, and that I could go home the next day after the MRI.  Since the MRI wasn’t fixed, and might not get fixed the next day, I just asked if I could go home.  I was discharged around 10 PM.

While home, the stuttering and stammering continued.  I took YouTube videos of myself so there would be a record of my condition and any improvements.  I also posted them to Facebook.  I will enter the links to Facebook where they can be seen.

This is my first video: January 20, 2012: See it here

This is my second video: January 21, 2012: See it here

This is my third video: January 21, 2012: See it here

You can see by the third video that my speech is back to normal, with just a couple of slips back into conversion.

The neurologist said that what I have is a conversion disorder.  For whatever reason, my brain converts stress, depression and anxiety into physical symptoms.

It’s important to know the symptoms of a stroke. It could help you save someone’s life. Don’t assume that these symptoms I described here are always a conversion reaction, or some other non-life threatening problem. Getting medical attention quickly is the best thing to do to prevent the long term damage that strokes can cause. Recognize and respond to strokes!

3 responses to “Am I having a stroke, or conversion reaction?

  1. Back just before My mental/nervous breakdown, while I was still working, I think that something like that would happen to me. My hands would curl up and I would be totally numb. I couldn’t even raise my hand to my mouth. I also couldn’t control my tongue. I couldn’t do my job and was too embarrassed to talk to the supervisor and explain why I had to leave. So I would just go outside until I felt I could drive. Then I’d leave.

  2. Pingback: Conversion Disorder: A Personal Experience | Bangari Content Gallery

  3. Thanks Carlarenee45 for reading this post. It is very embarrassing to have these symptoms. It does feel like you are having a stroke. It’s scary. Even my doctor couldn’t tell without having the tests done to rule it out. Thanks for reading.


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