Well, that was unsettling.

I was in the bookstore, having just picked up a copy of Catie Murphy’s book “Urban Shaman” and thinking “Hey, I should get this–” when one of my fingertips felt weird.

My first thought was that there was a bit of plastic or something covering the tip, since it was still pressure sensitive, but there was no tactile input. Puzzled, I looked at it, and it started to tingle. “Hmm,” I thought, “what’s up with that?” I shook my hand–left hand–a bit, thinking perhaps my fingertip had just fallen asleep, but the tingly numbness continued to spread down my finger. A minute later, it started on the next finger. I put the book down and shook my hand a bit more. The thumb started to go. It was absolutely baffling, like nothing I’ve ever experienced, as if my hand was falling asleep in rapid stages. I could still move everything, I just couldn’t feel it.

I thought “Holy shit, I’m having a stroke.”

The first finger began to return some weak sensation. I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or not. Perhaps I’d pinched a nerve somewhere? I generally associate a pinched nerve with a savage pain, not creeping tingly numbness. The other two fingers went numb to spite me. The heel of my hand started to go. Carpal tunnel? My right arm’s the one that’s gonna get it, the left arm just hangs around and mooches.

I thought “This is my left arm. Left? Left. Fuck. Am I having a heart attack? I better get home NOW.”

I got in the car–and now I realize that this was probably not terribly smart, since if I’d had an actual incident, at least on the floor of Barnes & Noble, I’d be likely to get help, whereas in the car, at best I’d die alone behind the wheel, at worst I’d plow into a tree–but I got into the car anyway, since I live like three minutes away. Checked the mirror. Left side of my face still mobile, not sagging. Recited part of “The Raven” (it was the first thing I remembered.) Speech wasn’t slurred. Heart rate normal. Stomach…roiling, but then again, I was starting to get kinda unsettled, so I chalked that up as stress rather than symptom.

As I drove, my hand came back on-line, somewhat grudgingly. Probably not a stroke. I hope.

Got home. Told James what had happened. Took two asprin just in case I’d had a heart attack. Checked the internet. There were lots of things that had hand numbness as a symptom, many of them involving the cheery phrase “sudden death.” Called the doctor. They said that I’d probably have my whole arm go if it was a stroke, and a heart attack would not just be numb and tingly, but that it was sufficiently weird I ought to come in, since sudden death would put a damper on my plans for the evening. So now I have an appointment in two hours. My arm still feels weird, sort of…mm…internally cold…but if I’m being honest, I cannot say that it’s actually weird, and that I’m not just hyper-aware of it because I’m paranoid.

It’s possible I’m just a total hypochondriac, mind you, but that sorta shit is not in the owner’s manual. It’s probably nothing, but it freaked the hell outta me–at 28 I expect aches, pains, and wear and tear, but that was kinda beyond the pale.

Wish me luck.

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