On June 24th 2009, at the age of 33, Sabin suffered a Stroke without any Insurance to lessen the enormous amount of medical bills. He has gotten such strong support through another website called HTTP://SabinsStrokeofGenius.com which documents it all
Prelude to the Episode
A story of this magnitude is quite unique, weird, and highly difficult to describe when it is actually happening. Remarkably this thing has spell check. No, really, I was able to remember quite a bit but others have to help… Especially for the funny stuff I did! It all really started on 5/27/09. I had a 12-hour shoot the day before with a model at Palazzo for an LVM cover and spread. The next day I was off to Chicago for a week long shoot and a vacation to catch up with some old friends.
I had a small pain in the back of my head, the base of the skull, but just above the neck. I treated it as a headache even though it was in a funky spot. This sucker persisted on for a few days and I couldn’t crack it. I was popping pills like nuts! What’s the deal???? My head was hurting all the time in the same spot. The back bottom of my head and the front right just above my right eye. It could switch with a snap of the finger and sometimes be in both areas. One thing is for sure… it wasn’t going away! I played golf a couple days with Dave Place, Tony Mercer, Mark Miller, John Hamater., Justin Hansen, Jason Hamer, Todd Meggos, P.J. McLaughlin, Jacob Vanvooren, and Mike Olander. I always had the pain but was starting to get used to it and battled on. The weirdest was waking up with it! I mean, when is this pain gonna go away? I explored with it, played with it, and worked with it. It was no longer a staple, but a fixture! I then had to photograph apx. 25 minority executives for Chicago United Business Leaders of Color 2009 edition. Quite a hectic schedule, but all went well.
Off and away to Alton, IL for another week! Strictly play time with family and friends. I set up shop at Shane Callahan’s and moved forward. Shane, Kyle, Jayme and I, played in the Godfrey firefighter golf charity tourney. Best ball format. We were terrible! -7 for the round. Some group shot -22! That is like an EA Tiger Woods score with a cheat on or something! Who putts that well? Anyway, we were donators which was fine. The headache still persists and now I am telling friends that it has been there for about 2 ½ weeks straight! Some concern is arising. My thought is that it’s associated with my previous back complications since I read that headaches can come from back pain…. Shane talked to a doctor that golf’s a lot and said to him, “Tell that guy to go see a Neurologist pronto. He has no time to waste???” Well, when your 33, you have no reason to think something tragic is about to happen! That week passed and the pain elevated. It caused problems in every facet of my life because I was always tense and trying to fight it. It was hard to be nice to people and I had zero patience for anything.
Once I got back to Vegas, I was hurting a lot and decided to make an aptointment with the Chiropractor to check out my spine action. I told him what was going on and he suspected it was my occipital nerve. It’s at the top of our necks and can produce head pain in the back of as well as the front part of the head. I looked it up on the internet and did a lot of research. Everything seemed to check out! I had all the symptoms and felt similar to how patients feel. He said about 2-3 treatments and I should be fine. Some people even feel immediate relief and are good after 1. Well, shortly after the treatment, at home, I felt really off!!! I was driving later and it felt like I was drunk! I was like man, should I pull over? Then I realized I had a blind spot in both of my eyes! My mood instantly changed and I become very irritable and mad. I didn’t want to speak to anybody. I thought I was going to explode. I was dizzy and couldn’t walk a straight line. I know because I tried in Target on their tile floors! I didn’t get it ya know!!! That lasted for about 3-4 hours and then I just went to normal besides the headaches. I even played golf later with Chris Smith. The next day, my girlfriend moved out! So that was nice! Not really, but that is a different story.
I spoke with chiropractor 2 days later and told him what I experienced… He was a little shocked and hesitant. He said he couldn’t treat me because I had new symptoms. “What are they?” I asked. He did some slight body movements on me, analyzed my eyes (more things), and asked a bunch of questions. He then later said that I was describing a TIA- mini stroke to him. It didn’t make sense cause I was just 33. My father has had 3 strokes at more severe level. Certain things are hard for him to handle as a result. My uncle, dad’s brother, died from a stroke at the age of 38. Several family members on my dad’s side had cirrhosis of the liver. He said that I should see a specialist because this isn’t his area of expertise, but just to be safe, I should get some tests done. I took his advise seriously, but decided I needed to get health insurance first. I came to find that policies only go into affect on the 1st and 15th of every month. That meant some waiting cause it was around the 16th! Bummer. I figured I could sweat it out and be fine…. After much research, I had decided on a plan and applied.
The following Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday… Tuesday or so I think. I went to bed on the floor cause the ex moved out with every piece of bedroom furniture! I mean, I literally have a futon mattress and a TV from Natalie Davison propped up on some non sturdy plastic storage bin. I’m living in high society baby. That next morning I wake up around 6:00am and I knew right away that something was wrong! Very Wrong! When I opened my eyes I could tell that my mind had no gauge of center. Everything was all over the place! I closed my eyes and said, “OK man, just wait minute and it will all go back to normal.” Opened’em up….. nope. Still jacked up! I closed them again and rolled up on my knees with head on the pillow and my eyes closed. I started to feel sick and knew some color chunks were coming! Then the fun began…. Once I got on my feet, I felt like a 16 yr old drunk for the first time whiskey or something. I fell into the wall on the right. I’m getting really hot now too. I got on my feet and fell again to the left. I got up and made a few steps left before I crashed into that wall too. Now I am sweating and the mouth confetti is ready. I got to the sink swaying back and forth aggressively. I had no food in my body, girlfriend thing, and bile was the only thing ready to exit. It came out yellow which made think I was color blind or something cause I was used to it being green! I couldn’t stand anymore and wanted to prey to the porcelain god instead. I made some deposits there but started to feel closterphobic. I then moved about 5 feet to the bathtub which seemed to be a good fit since I couldn’t stay in one spot, even on my knees, from the dizziness. More yellow stuff. It hurts. My head hurts like crazy too this whole time. So, I am done with yakking, but still very hot! I decide I should go the ER, which is less than a mile down the road. I’ll drive! What was I thinking???… I apparently wasn’t thinking clearly but had somewhat of an excuse. It took some time to get dressed because I was so dizzy and still falling. I made it to the car but couldn’t remember how to start it! I was trying over and over, but only in a couple spots, as my head is swaying all over the place. I finally did it, but then I couldn’t remember how to open the garage, which is a button my visor. The car was running for a bit and I started getting scared of the running car in garage scenario. I decided to go inside and when I went through the garage door to the kitchen my hand hit the opener! OH, that works! I got back in the car and backed out but couldn’t figure how to shut it. So I said “forget it” and left for the hospital. I drove really-really slow, but it didn’t matter. I hit all kinds of things- medians, curbs. If I was in the turn lane. I needed all 4 lanes to turn! I ran over curbs and medians the whole way cause I couldn’t judge space/depth. I got to the entrance and clipped it too. I found a parking spot that luckily had an empty spot next to it because I parked all jacked up.
Making it into the hospital the workers immediately noticed that I had no balance and was stumbling everywhere. They got me in a wheel chair and I couldn’t even spit an English word. They had to think I was drunk! I was young guy stumbling everywhere that can’t talk. Why wouldn’t they? So, I mustard out, “I’m not drunk” They put me in admitting! I was in so much pain! I sat there and sat there. The whole time I was shaking, moaning, sitting like a child being abused and scared, holding my head cause the pain was moving every hour to a new spot. I could tell people were watching, but there was nothing I could do. I looked and acted like a desperate person on the brink of death! I know people were constantly watching and wondering what I was going through. I had one patient later tell me that night that she seriously thought I was going to die!!! Really, She thought I was going to die. Back to the story- I couldn’t talk. Only sounds came out. They did a couple of tests on me at that point. Each time they wheeled me away, I was thinking that I was finally getting to see a doctor and to a bed. But NO, they just took me back to the waiting area where I was agonizing. One RN guy, about 2 ½ hours into it during some test, was saying that I needed to speak clearly and give him some answers or they weren’t gonna be able to help!!! They thought I was drunk. Who the heck acts like a fully functional mentally challenged person in the waiting room that is drunk but doesn’t smell anything like alcohol? I was getting pissed cause I realized what was going on but couldn’t do anything about it. Around 12:30pm to 1pm I finally got a bed in ER. I was really out of it at this point and was completely in others’ hands. I think I realized that I didn’t need to fight anymore and gave into rest. In looking at the Dr’s notes, I couldn’t answer basic questions. Where are you? What is the date? Who is president? Sometimes, they would have to ask more over 15-20 times before I would answer with something. They just said I was always holding my head, making sounds, and saying I was cold.
Later that night, my ex showed up because I called her at 6:00am a bunch and left a brief message. Her and my roommates knew something was up cause my wallet was at home and the garage door was open. (2 Things I never do!) She called everybody and couldn’t find me. Then she checked hospitals and there was my completely incapacitated self. I was so happy to see her face, but she was standoffish with concern towards me. I didn’t care. It was just so nice to see her. Shortly after, my roommates showed up. The ex left and Scott Jun came in. He has a super funny story about my IV he can share with everyone!
After about 2 days I started to be able to understand some things. Dr. Chamian came to my bedside and asked several questions. One thing I remember was him saying I had some tests to do in order to find out what was causing my stroke showers. (Stroke showers – definition coming) What? What is talking about I thought? But I said OK and we could do whatever. I told him I didn’t have any health insurance but he seemed to not care was gonna have me do every major expensive test they offer anyway. I had an MRI without contrast. I later learned that it showed lesions in my brain of the upper left Thalamus and the Cerebellum region. That led to many upon many other tests! I am now admitted as a hospital patient, 3 days later, and put in this pimp room. Did they think I was a celeb or something? 1 bed for this room with a flat screen TV and a bay window. Didn’t think I was gonna be perchin up with a nice book or anything. My brother arrived early that day and was quite helpful. It was extremely nice to see him and to know that he left Missouri pronto. I wasn’t sure what he knew at this point about my experience. I did know one thing for sure. All the doctors didn’t know what caused the lesions, strokes, head pain, or dizziness. They weren’t being very informative with me either. Over 3 days deep ya know and nothing concrete told to the patient or family. I started to formulate that they weren’t sure or even had a clue. They had ran several tests on my brain and they all came back neg. Now, the main doctor, Dr. Chamian, and the neurologists, Dr. Chopra and Dr. Joshua, figured heavily that I had a heart defect. A whole in it or a blood clot around it. I had to do a TEE test. Wow! That sucks! They numb your throat and then stick a 1 to 1 ½ inch tube down your throat to inspect your heart region. Not fun! It came back neg. too. Now, the doctors are really up in the air as to what is wrong! They were sure I would have a blood clot from the heart.
I sat in the bed for a couple more days with my Brother, Mom, & Dad now there. They said I would be going home soon and that really upset me!!! They haven’t treated me for anything and have not given me an answer as to why I had the stroke and have lesions on my nugget now! I wanted answers. So, they said I would stay until I spoke with Dr. Chopra , the neurologist.
They main thing that has been in mind every day for over 5 weeks now, is this pain in the back and front right… I do not feel like the doctors have put enough emphasis on what I have been telling them. The pain still persists and the drugs are only treating the symptom and not the cause. This needs a resolution! Then maybe we will get some answers.
Life so Far After The Hospital
Being at home and out of the hospital is quite different than 2 weeks prior. I have a million thoughts and most of them I forget! I sometimes forget what I am saying in mid sentence, my head still hurts; the dizziness is there too. They are all getting better with time and rest. I feel a full recovery-taking place. How fortunate I feel and know that I am going to succeed through this horrific event! (I just forgot what I wanted to write…)
Anyway, I have many doctors’ apts. with a neurologist and general practitioner. She suggested a hematologist because my Coagulation test showed some abnormalities. Nothing to stress she said, but I should get them tested. I can’t drive- even though I thought I could while having strokes! Nobody hurt. Ha. My diet and lifestyle has changed drastically. I am still at a high risk to repeat because they never found out what was wrong!!! Keep that in mind…. It is very scary to me. I can go through this all again on any level at anytime. I was fine before it happened besides the head pain. That of which, is still there. I am taking Dilaudid, Percocet, and Meclizine to mask the head pain and dizziness. They help immensely, but make me really wiped out. Everyone’s effort of concern and helping hands goes a long way! Several people are making a touching difference in me. I have a new appreciation for life… mainly because I know I could no longer have one! The people involved and associated with me carry a beautiful trait that is capable of such strong possibilities- Kindness/Caring ness. Thank you all for taking the time to read my story. A true difference is going to be made!
– Sabin Orr